Olancha Peak 12,123'

cartago south wall 10.jpg (63453 bytes)

Olancha Peak is known as the Southern Sentinel of the Sierras. There is no peak higher, further south in California. The view is so commanding that the NPS installed a repeater antenna on the summit. To the east is the southern half of the Owens Valley, the White Mountain Range, the Panamint Mountain range, and Telescope Peak. To the north is the Sierra Crestline building up to Langley and Whitney. To the south is the Sierra Crestline as it diminishes to the Tehachapi Mountains. To the west is the Kern River watershed and Sequoia National Park and Sequoia National Forest.
"Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side" by JC and Ruby Jenkins gives all the beta for Olancha via the NE Ridge and comment "Only hikers in top physical condition and skilled in route finding should attempt this ascent, which is by far the most challenging climb in this book."  I cheated. Doing it in May , I only had 8 hours of climbing/hiking the first day until I reached snow on the NE ridge and immediately set up camp at the first snowpatch. The water tasted bad due to a bunch of dead bugs in the snow that seem to die and drip their innards down into the snow but it sustained me until I got to a stream 4 hours into the second day. Anyone making it to the first stream on the first day is a helluva hiker.The trip took me three days and two nights. 40' of accessory cord helps for raising and lowering packs over some third class sections.


Looking SW from the summit, at the NPS antenna and the Kern River drainage.

Looking east, down into the Owens Valley,
and the respectable, trailess 8000' elevation gain.


south wall of canyon
This photo was taken from the NE corner of the Olancha Summit Plateau and looks down the north side of the south wall of Cartago Canyon which as far as I know, still has not received a first ascent. So if anyone is complaining of crowded rock climbing spots, now you know where to go.


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