2nd Annual Descender’s Monster Climb Road Trip

by Arlyn on April 28, 2008

I’m headed to the Eastern Sierra in June with 9 other cycling fanatics for:

Three days of road bike monster climbs along Highway 395 of the south-eastern Sierras between Lone Pine and Big Pine (not really any pines there). The trip is designed for over-the-hill polka dot wanna-bees looking for good company, no cars, and upward tilting pavement. 22,000’ of “scheduled” climbing on 4 goliaths in 140 miles (round trips) jammed into 3 days.”

Sweet. Check out the descriptions and elevation profiles for the climbs:

Day 1 – Onion Valley

Onion Valley Climb

Onion Valley (13 miles, climbing 5300’), our first climb out of Independence starts with a 6 mile straight road on the alluvial fan. We will drive up half of the alluvial fan, because we can. After the first few miles this mountain has 18 hairpin turns on great pavement, considered one of the best descents anywhere.

Day 2 – Horseshoe Meadows and Mt. Whitney Portal

Horseshoe Meadow

Horseshoe Meadows (22.5 miles, climbing 6300’ tops out at 10,070) starts with a tour of Alabama Hills, rugged cowboy movie set country. Then, after an monstrous alluvial fan, it ribbons up a mountain face that has no business sporting a road. Nearly parallel switchbacks take us up to forest country. May have to filter water from natural sources along the road. Otherwise, two full bottles AND a camel pack are necessary.

Mt. Whitney Portal

Whitney Portal Road (9 miles climbing 3800 ft, up to 8,450’) is famous because it ends at the base camp of the trail up Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous U.S. Though the alluvial fan is oppressive, the view of the mountain upon approach keeps the climb interesting. There are a couple of long switch backs after the alluvial fan that hosts 15% sections, just to finish your legs off for the day. Pretty good food sold at the top.

Day 3 – Bristlecone


Bristlestone, our highest hill rivals the biggest in Europe (20 mile, climbing 6,600’ to 10,100’). It is on the eastern side of 395 outside of Big Pine, so there is no alluvial fan, and has lots of changing grades and turns. Some very steep sections.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

thePig May 1, 2008 at 7:24 am

Wow, you must like pain 🙂
I love climbing mountains (with a granny ring) but this would take me a week.

Good luck on the ride.

Arlyn Asch May 1, 2008 at 7:31 am

Thanks – I’m real curious to see what it’s like to try climbing this much in three days.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: