Wow! Why would it take someone 15 years to climb Dragon Peak? Because California Department of Fish and Game closed the area around Dragon Peak and several other peaks for years. Actually, the closure was from July 1st to December 15th. That meant you had to climb Dragon with snow and ice on the route. I was not willing to climb exposed class 3 rock with snow and ice. Fortunately, that restriction was lifted in 2014. I had been eyeing this peak since 2000.
2014 Not Happeing
Twice I tried to climb Dragon Peak during the summer of 2014 and failed! During the first attempt we got off route resulting in an extra 1,000+ feet of elevation gain. Once in the final gully we took off too soon to the north and climbed until we were looking at a steep section of class 5 rock. That was it. I was beat physically and mentally.
A few weeks later we tried again armed with better beta. At around 10,000 feet I became weak and dizzy. I had been drinking water and eating. I waited at the second unnamed lake as two other parties attempted Dragon Peak. One party made it; the other did not.
After losing 30+ pounds, getting into very good shape, and having some good beta I tried again. This is a great mountaineering route. It's scenic, has fun and airy climbing and can easily be done as a day hike.
Since I had done the approach twice before, I knew the tricks. In about two hours we were at the second unnamed lake. Ascending the gully below the peak was easy! It looks terrible, but staying on the large boulders made it a breeze.
The photo below shows the correct chute to ascend. Notice the crack off to the right. This is a great landmark to identify the correct chute.
If you have researched this peak, you have heard about the traverse. The photo and video below shows the traverse. It's about 25 feet long; the ledge is from one to four inches wide and there are handholds.
This is one of the better Sierra Peaks. It's fun, scenic, has great class 3 climbing, and can be done in a day. It's located in Onion Valley in the Sierra. The nearest town is Independence, CA.
It's 8.6 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of around 3,900 feet. Dragon Peak stands at 12,995 feet. There is a sign-in book at the summit.
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV