Olancha Peak


By: Patty Kline , Frank Goodykoontz

We met at 6:30 AM at the roadhead far Olancha Peak, Saqe Flat. Our group of 11 left about the same time as the Wilderness Travel Group led by Herb Fiala and Virgil Bayless.

The roadhead is as follows: Drive north an Hwy 395 to Little Lake. From there note your odometer and go 19.5 miles north to Sage Flat Road. Turn left (west) and go on this small road, keeping right at the road forks on the most heavily used roads to the end at 5.5 miles. There is a sign "Pavement ends" at 3.2 miles. The end of the road is a large bulldozed area of reddish dirt. There is no water or trees, but it is very level for camping, the elevation is 5,800 feet.

We hiked 7 miles to our camp at 9,500 feet, arriving about 12:30 PM. There was no trouble accommodating our group as well as the Wilderness Travel group. The camp is within sight of the trail. A nice stream runs between the camp and the trail. This dries up early in the season, although there may be small pockets of water which are spring-fed uphill later on in the season.

Olancha is far enough from other SPS peaks to make it hard to climb another one on the same weekend. There seemed to be a lot of thunderstorms going on in the distance, but we were spared. Our extended communitv happy hour started about 3:30 PM with such delicacies as cream cheese tapped with jalapeno jelly from Ron Matson and homemade chocolate chip cookies from Terry Flood. The temperatures were cool and windy and Bahram Manahedgi built a big fire for us.

At 6:15 AM we departed for Olancha Peak, the most southerly of the emblem peaks. Here is the route description from the Pacific Crest Trail. From the highest point of the trail before it drops into Gomez Meadow, turn east towards the peak. It is about 1,500 feet of gain. Make sure to angle in a northerly direction over the large class 2 boulders.

Nine of us got the peak. This was a first ascent for everyone but me. It was my 6th. About 1 hour was spent on top posing for pictures and admiring the great view. Mark Adrian became a member of the SPS on this peak as I had done 6 years before in 1986. There is a sheer 3,000 to 1,000 foot drop off from the east facing chute right below the summit. The lower part of Owens Valley stretched out below the bottcrn of the peak. We could see as far south as Telescope Peak. It is interesting to note the top of Olancha Peak (12,123') is part of the original erosional plain of the ancient High Sierra range. It has a flat tap like Mt Whitney, Mt Darwin, Mt Abbot, and others. The glaciers were never here. Olancha may have been named after the Olanches Indians (from Peter Browning's Place Nanaes of the Sierra Nevada).

The group got back to the cars by 1:30 PM. We all had a nice weekend. Those in the group not already mentioned in the write-up were Erik Siering, Rich Gnagy, John Kurnick, and Howard and Barb Eyerly.

I want to thank Frank Goodykoontz for his usual great job of assisting me on this trip. Also thank you to everyone who came on the trip. It was a very enjoyable weekend.

SPS Trip Report Index | Sierra Peaks Section