Mount Tom (California)

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Mount Tom
Mount Tom from the northeast
Elevation 13,658 ft (4,163 m) NAVD 88[1]
Prominence 1,972 ft (601 m)[1]
Parent peak Mount Humphreys[2]
Location Inyo County, California, U.S.
Range Sierra Nevada
Coordinates 37°20′19″N 118°39′30″W / 37.3385441°N 118.6584507°W / 37.3385441; -118.6584507Coordinates: 37°20′19″N 118°39′30″W / 37.3385441°N 118.6584507°W / 37.3385441; -118.6584507[3]
Topo map USGS Mount Tom
First ascent 1860s, Thomas Clark[4]
Easiest route Scramble, class 2[5]

Mount Tom is a large and prominent peak near Bishop in Inyo County of eastern California. It is in the Sierra Nevada and east of the Sierra Crest.

Along with its neighbor to the south, Basin Mountain, it dominates the western skyline from the upper Owens Valley.


The mountain is named for Thomas Clark, a resident of the pioneer town of Owensville, who is credited with being the first to ascend the peak in the 1860s.[4] Mount Tom and Mount Morgan were part of the Pine Creek mining operation which was important producer of tungsten for much of the 20th century although the scheelite ore deposits are now largely depleted and mines have closed.


The most common method hikers use to summit Mount Tom is in a one night backpacking trip up Horton Creek Canyon to Horton Lake, a 3.6 mile hike with about 2000 feet of elevation gain, starting at around 8000 feet. There campers may, with an overnight wilderness permit, spend the night in preparation for the main hike.

The next morning hikers climb up a series of 16 switchbacks up the southern ridge of Mount Tom, ascending about 1500 ft of elevation. Upon reaching the top of the switch backs, climbers encounter a hanging valley with elevation of about 11,500 feet. The trail ends at an elevation just below 12000 feet. From there climbers may follow the southern ridgeline up to the summit. The high elevation part of the climb involves about 1,750 feet of elevation climb off trail, climbers will encounter mostly class 2 and class 3 climbing, There is some class 4 climbing, but this can be avoided. On the peak cell phone reception is available on most providers, as well as a summit log.

The hike is 7.5 miles each direction with around a mile of total elevation gain. Summiting Tom is possible in a single day, but this is a strenuous day hike taking anywhere between 11 and 15 hours to complete.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mount Tom, California". Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  2. ^ "Mount Tom". Retrieved 2012-04-01. 
  3. ^ "Mount Tom". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  4. ^ a b Farquhar, Francis P. (1926). Place Names of the High Sierra. San Francisco: Sierra Club. Retrieved 2009-12-30. 
  5. ^ Roper, Steve (1976). The Climber's Guide to the High Sierra. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. p. 141. ISBN 9780871561473. 

External links[edit]