|Mark Jiroch and Jack Elliott taking in views of Topatopa Peak and Hines Peak, from the potrero below and north of Whiteacre's summit.|
Just a sterling day, weather-wise and in all other ways. Jack Elliott and I were joined on our repeat ascent of the demanding and brushy Whiteacre Peak by another Ventura local with whom I've been corresponding, Mark Jiroch. He's laid some comments on the blog over the years but this was our first time out and he came as advertised, one lanky and lean Marine. For what it's worth, he is now officially a "friend of the blog". Welcome, Mark.
This time around our choose-your-own-adventure route was a bit brushier than on our previous visit however there did seem to be signs of several recent attempts to reach the summit plateau, namely a pretty well worked use trail all the way up to the Notch. I say "attempts" because both Jack and I were surprised that there had been no new signatures in the SVS summit journal since our last time here, so clearly people have tried the peak and gotten turned back at the Notch or in the brush tunnel directly above it. That's too bad because this hike, I am convinced, is one of the best day-hikes in the SLP, and the guys with me this day would agree.
We were subjected to the same meandering brush battles and rock scrambles on the summit plateau that Jack and I had previously experienced, though this time it was notably more overgrown. As we scrambled up on to the summit ramp we caught a condor fly-by. When I called it out, Mark was able to chimney up that slot with haste and catch his first glimpse of a condor in the wild before the bird turned and sailed out toward Cobblestone Peak. "Don't worry," I said, "he'll be back." And around 20 minutes later he did indeed return for a few lazy loops at about 50ft above us as we enjoyed the summit. After that cherry on the day we went exploring, uncovering more fossils than we had previously discovered, and we headed south across the bluffs for a ways. During that exploration we encountered bear tracks galore and some additional fossils, very clear indications of what had at one time likely been coastal mud-flat (below).
All in all we had a fun and adventurous day on the peak, the type of day that is difficult to replicate. I want to emphasize again that this one of those peaks that, despite it's strenuous and brushy nature, is oh so worth doing. There's plenty of space in that summit journal so get on it before it is overgrown so completely that getting there becomes impossible.
I'll refer you to my and Jack's Whiteacre Trip Report for a more thorough description of the route and if you have questions on the nitty gritty you can feel free to email me at
|The sandstone bluffs of Whiteacre Peak. "The Notch" ascends the left-most (N) portion of the ridge.|
|Jack below the notch with San Rafael Peak on the center-right skyline.|
|Wind caves abound in between the slabs of the summit plateau.|
|Jack clearing the awkward/sketchy jump to the summit ramp.|
|Condor pee on Whiteacre's USGS marker.|
|Another fly-by by a CA Condor makes 2 for 2 for Jack and me on this summit, and a first for Mark.|
|Jack Elliott and Mark Jiroch on the summit of Whiteacre. Topatopa Peak dominates the right side of this frame.|
|This lost condor beacon antennae decorates the slab below the summit.|
|A sedimentary layer of pebbled sandstone near the summit contains large bony fossils. (and below)|
|Fossilized tidal mudflat (probably).|
|Jack Elliott on a bluff south of the summit.|
|There are many wind caves and geologic oddities near the summit of Whiteacre.|
|Mark Jiroch descending "The Notch".|
|Large puma print. This month's National Geographic has a great article about the "return" of the North American mountain lion.|
|A view east into the Agua Blanca Watershed. The big ridge above the drainage comes off Cobblestone Peak.|
|Whiteacre Peak at sunset, from near Dough Flat.|