Route: Glass Mountains Traverse (CA)

California, US
50 km
Vertical Gain
2,550 m

Submitted by Jessica Johnson:

The Glass Mountains Traverse covers the entire mountain range, hitting every named high point, of which there are 8. The whole ridge goes at Class 1, Mostly just walking on open sand and v small rocks, with a few neat sections of obsidian (where the name comes from). The whole time you get a great view of the Sierra crest, and often also the White mountains, the Owens River, and the Long Valley Caldera (one of the US’s three supervolcanoes!)

I can’t find record of anyone doing this whole mountain range in a day, but it could also be the kinda thing a local did for training for something bigger and just didn’t think it was worth mentioning in its own regard. And of course the Nüümü/Paiute and Newe/Shoshone people spent (and continue to spend) a lot of time up here. I think this still counts as the Payahuunadü, the land of flowing water. I’m putting this route on the fkt site bc I think the Glass mountains are underrated and not currently a destination given they’re literally right across the street from the Sierra but I think they should get more love. This route would be an excellent first step for a hiker or runner who is looking to explore off trail travel where you get to navigate yourself, be up high all day in the mountains, and be self sufficient but without the nerves of navigating scrambling. Peter Croft says a ridge traverse is like being on a summit all day. So nice. I was not particularly fast but this route will go fast for sure and it’d be cool to see what other people do now that they know it’s an option so I wanna put it out there for others. :) ⁣

I did the route unsupported, previously dropping a water cache half way through and even camping near the finish and transporting myself from the end back to the start on my single speed mountain bike the next day (bike transport not included in time). You could do this route supported though by having friends camp at sawmill meadows and dayhike supplies up to you at glass mountain. The start and finish are both accessible only on dirt roads but as of May 2020 both are accessible with a 2wd non-high-clearance car so having someone shuttle you or doing a key swap would be easy. ⁣There are bears so don’t leave food unattended. The route starts at the end of the road west of watterson troughs and ends at the top of the fire lookout on bald mountain. Going up those last stairs of the lookout felt so good!!! And talk about a view! There is a spot you can park without blocking the road at the start. ⁣

These are high desert mountains- do not count on any water being available on route. McLaughlin springs was a trickle early May 2020 but I wouldn’t count on it being year round. Best time for this route is spring and fall. Summer gets really hot, winter it’ll be covered in snow. ⁣This route is approximately 2/3 dirt road and 1/3 off trail cross country. You can sometimes pick up little use trails between some summits but you never want for one when they’re not there. Terrain is mostly sandy. Come prepared to embrace the sand. Lots of mountain people avoid lengthy sand “slogs” but a slog is in the eye of the slogholder and I thoroughly enjoyed myself the whole day. It always felt like just the right level of effort. ⁣

The route starts at 7,500 ft and quickly ascends 2,700 ft on dirt roads to the first summit to warm ya up then is more rolling throughout. Once you gain the first summit, the route stays high, mostly above 9,000 ft, with the high point being Glass Mountain at 11,160. The first six summits are close together and the distance and gain between them gets smaller and smaller as you go on so as you get tireder and higher the difficulty reduces itself in correlation. Then a pleasant forest walk or run to the last two without much elevation gain left. There is only one steep slope, after Glass Mountain north, that makes for fun screeing. You hit dirt road again a mile or so after Sentinal Meadows peak for chill zoned-out (or extra zoned-in depending on your mental state) running all the way to the finish. Rolling, downhill trending terrain got me to that state of clear minded, focused movement, matching breath with footfalls, just counting breaths until magic seeming arrival at the next turn with a last kick of 500 ft to the final summit, the finish. Excellent mountain range. Great design, Earth. Top notch.

Maps tend to show glass mountain north as glass mountain so don’t be confused by this - the higher DPS glass mountain is to the south, accurately reflected on Peakbagger. The high point of Sentinal Meadows peak is just north of where indicated on the usgs maps too - you’ll find the register in a little ring of rocks under a large obsidian chunk. ⁣

GPS Track


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Profile picture for user Sarah Estrella

Jessica stated, "I did the route unsupported, previously dropping a water cache half way through", which would make it self-supported, right? 

Sarah, you’re right, that would be a self-supported effort. Also, Jessica states in their write up that they are non-binary, so perhaps the site moderators should change the classification of Jessica’s FKT to “non-binary”? Happy Trails!