Black Peak a.k.a. Black Benchmark

Elevation: 9,385 ft
Prominence: 205

Climbing and access information for this peak is found on page 351. The newest 7.5-minute quadrangle shows a spot elevation on the summit as 9,385. The National Geodetic Survey data sheet shows the elevation as 9,389. The benchmark (BM) does not have an elevation stamped on it. Peakbagger.com claims Black Peak is the high point of the Black Pine Mountains. However, ListsofJohn.com claims Black Pine Peak is the highest. Livingston Douglas reported that his altimeter reading agreed with the ListsofJohn.com, finding that Black Peak was lower than Black Pine Peak.

This website will stick with the 9,385 feet figure for now because, simply put, the exact elevation of this peak is not clear from the conflicting data. Updated November 2018


Black Peak summit (9,385 feet) is located 1.25 miles north of Black Pine Peak (9,386 feet). Given the confusion discussed above and the potential margin of error in the survey process, it is possible that this peak is the highest point in the range. If your goal is to reach the highest point in the range climb both potential high points.

Black Peak aka Black Benchmark. Dan Robbins Photo

Black Peak aka Black Benchmark. Dan Robbins Photo

Use this link to read about the Classic Black Pine Mountains Traverse

USGS Topo: Sandrock Canyon

The USGS benchmark on Black Peak.

The USGS benchmark on Black Peak.

Traversing the ridge between Black Peak and Black Pine Mountain.

Traversing the ridge between Black Peak and Black Pine Mountain.

Gary Quigley on the summit of Black Peak.

Gary Quigley on the summit of Black Peak.


2018 Update by Livingston Douglas 

Date of Climb:  September 26, 2018

Access

Same as for the North Ridge of Peak 8376.

South Ridge Route, Class 2

This route is part of a ridge traverse from Black Pine Peak (9,386 feet) to Black BM/Black Peak (9,385 feet). The route begins at the 9,180-foot saddle at the base of the South Ridge of Black BM/Black Peak. This is a short ridge scramble up open terrain that is a mix of embedded talus/scree, short scrub, and a narrow/poor footpath on the ridge crest.

The summit of Black Peak (the south summit) has a large cairn atop it. The nearby summit of Black BM (the north summit) has two USGS BMs—one in a ground boulder and another that is cemented into the ground itself. It also had a torn-down cairn, which I studiously rebuilt and stuck a triangulation post into. Now climbers will be totally confused and will have to do both summits, as they should.

The summit of Black Peak is about 10 vertical feet higher than the summit of Black BM. The two summits are only 100-150 horizontal feet apart. If you are a purist peak-bagger (like me), you must stand on the highest point (Black Peak). But if you also like to bag USGS BMs, you must visit the [slightly lower] Black BM location as well.


East Ridge, Class 3 (Descent)

Access

Same as for the South Ridge Route, above.

Route

This route is the final leg of a magnificent ridge traverse from Peak 8376 (Juniper Valley Peak) to War Eagle Peak to Black Pine Peak to Black BM/Black Peak and back down to the meadow in the center of Pole Canyon. Black BM/Black Peak has a beautiful east ridge that bends northeast as it drops to the canyon floor. Better yet, it descends to the original departure point on Pole Canyon Road for the ridge traverse.

From the summit of Black Peak (the south summit), descend the ridge on a dead east line. The upper section of the ridge is a combination of short scrub and loose gravel/scree with lots of sheep trails crossing the ridge. The scrub thickens and gets taller as you descend, so it gets tedious. But there are still gaps and sheep trails to help navigate through this unpleasant stuff. Just below Point 8370, there is a hidden, rocky buttress that requires Class 3 downclimbing of its ledges. The ledges have vegetation and loose gravel on them, so caution is advised here.

The ridge bends left (northwest) after you downclimb the rocky ridge buttress. You enter the forest at just below 7,400 feet and now is when things get rather unpleasant. It begins with scattered mountain mahogany. The forest soon becomes dense, the brush thickens, and the side-hilling is more challenging. A mix of pine forest and open scrub/veg then combine to punish your body. You will find open areas on the right (southeast) side of the ridge so stay there and avoid the steep, dense forest on the left (northwest) side of the ridge. Unfortunately, the open terrain gets rough too, as the scrub and vegetation gets thick/tall and scattered trees and blowdown join the mix.

The terrain steepens as you approach the toe of the ridge and the canyon floor. For the final 50-100 feet of vertical descent, drop off the left (northwest) side of the ridge into a gully and you will almost immediately reach Pole Canyon Road. Follow the road northeast then east back to the lovely meadow where you are parked and/or camped.

Mountain Range: Black Pine Mountains

Year Climbed: 1988

First Ascent Information:

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  • Other First Ascent: East Ridge -Descent
  • Year: 2018
  • Season: Summer
  • Party: Livingston Douglas

Longitude: -113.125608   Latitude: 42.13866

Photos:

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