Sentinel Peak proved to be an awesome and challenging hike at the same time.  We ended up doing the hike the day after we had backpacked into Panamint City for a three night stay, on June 1, 2009.  Our plan was to hike up to Sentinel Peak using the traditional route, which involved hiking from Panamint City into Frenchman's Canyon, up to Panamint Pass, and then finally to Sentinel Peak.  According to the BLM handout, which is usually given out at the Surprise Canyon trail register station, the hike from Panamint City to Panamint Pass would be 1.9 miles with an elevation gain of 1,800 feet.  Then, the hike from Panamint Pass to Sentinel Peak would be an additional 0.6 miles and 1,500 foot elevation gain.  Thus, we figured that doing 2 1/2 miles each way wouldn't be bad, even with a total elevation gain of 3,300 feet.  The only problem was that the BLM handout has incorrect information.  The portion of the hike from Panamint Pass to Sentinel Peak is a lot more than 0.6 miles.  It is probably closer to 2 miles each way.  I'm not sure who was measuring distance for this hike, but somebody was way off with their info.  But setting that aside, I should probably share some details with you about the hike itself.

All four in our group-- myself, Gary, Tiffany and Andrew, set out from Panamint City and began making our way through Frenchman's Canyon.  I knew the route as I had previously hiked from Panamint City to Panamint Pass three years earlier.  We found that the route following the old road to the pass was extremely well marked with cairns, and we found it very easy to follow.  Eventually we arrived at Panamint Pass, where Gary and Andrew had their first-ever views of central Death Valley and the Badwater Basin area.  Gary was satisfied with this outstanding view, so he decided to rest under a shady tree for a few hours while the rest of us continued our journey.  From the pass, we turned west and began hiking up the steep mountainside.  There were some challenging spots, such as climbing up through a rock field and navigating through thick trees, but we eventually made it up to the ridge line.  From here, things got a lot harder.  We had to work our way around the west side of the range, dealing with loose and slippery rocks and continuously steep terrain.  After agonizing through these obstacles, we finally caught sight of Sentinel Peak and willed ourselves on to the top.  It wasn't easy, especially already being tired from backpacking the day before and dealing with a bit of altitude sickness.  But we forced ourselves to achieve our goal and all four of us made it to the summit of Sentinel Peak at 9,636 feet.  The entire round-trip journey took us around 11 hours.  And granted, it probably would have been easier to try to reach Sentinel Peak via the Wyoming Mine Road, but we enjoyed taking the traditional route through Panamint Pass and that gave us something to remember and always treasure.  When we reached the summit, we also noted from the register that nobody had been to the peak in the last 7 1/2 months, which made the accomplishment even more special.
Sentinel Peak view panoramic
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The starting point for the hike is in Panamint City.  Here our group is pictured by the water tank at Slaughterhouse Spring:
Instead of following the old road through Water Canyon and around the weather station, we cut over cross country into Frenchman's Canyon:
We passed by a number of huge boulders sitting close to the wash of the canyon:
Steve hiking through Frenchman's Canyon for the second time in his life:
Phlox (Phlox longifolia) were growing near the bottom of the canyon:
The old road between Water Canyon and Panamint Pass is clearly visible in some areas:
Gary and Tiffany hiking up the trail, which was easy to find and follow most of the way:
We found these old wooden relics about halfway up Frenchman's Canyon:
The further we progressed, the clearer that Panamint Pass came into view:
Navigating through the trees was easy with the help of rock cairns set up everywhere:
Finally on Panamint Pass, holding the metal pole which is an informal marker at the top:
Getting a view of central Death Valley from Panamint Pass:
Andrew taking a break and snacking around the ring of stones which sits on Panamint Pass:
Gary made it to Panamint Pass and then called it a day.  He relaxed here and took a nap while the rest of us continued on to Sentinel Peak.  Making it to Panamint Pass is a worthy destination in itself:
Looking back down Frenchman's Canyon, where we had come from:
And looking up towards Sentinel Peak, which would prove to be our ultimate destination and greatest challenge on the trip:
Once we left Panamint Pass, the route turned extremely steep and was very slow going, so we paused a lot to enjoy the views:
We also found quite a few interesting rock formations in between Panamint Pass and the ridge line:
This part was challenging and fun at the same time.  We had to scramble up this steep field of loose rocks:
The trees were very thick on this slope we were climbing:
Just before reaching the ridgeline, Telescope Peak clearly came into view to the north:
We finally reached the ridgeline and a daunting view appeared.  We would have to scramble our way up along this ridge, and Sentinel Peak wasn't even visible yet:
The going was a bit rough and we were feeling fatigued:
Just when we would reach one peak, another one would come into view and we would have to keep hiking:
Tiffany has really become a great hiker, as she has been to Death Valley three times in the last calendar year:
Looking back down where we came from and at central Death Valley beyond:
Zooming in on Panamint Pass.  It was a heck of a climb to get up here:
More up and down climbing along the ridge.  This actually proved to be one of the more difficult Death Valley hikes I have ever been involved with:
But the views of the surrounding landscape made it all worth it:
It was quite frustrating to keep hiking across loose rocks, but we all tried our best not to fall:
Finally, the end of the journey and Sentinel Peak came into view:
Steve with Sentinel Peak in the background:
There were a few old markers along the ridge which were leftover from before the park was expanded:
Final path to the summit as the wind really started picking up:
Andrew, Tiffany, and Steve on the summit of Sentinel Peak:
Tiffany and Steve conquering another Death Valley summit together:
View from the summit looking north across the Panamint Mountains:
Zooming in on Telescope Peak, which Tiffany and Steve had hiked for the first time one year earlier:
A panoramic looking east and southeast into central Death Valley from Sentinel Peak (click to enlarge):
Zooming in to the east towards the Badwater Basin area:
There was another summit to the southwest which looked like it had some great views, but we were too exhausted to go over and check it out:
Looking northwest back towards the general vicinity of Panamint City:
By zooming in, we could see down into Surprise Canyon:
When we signed the DPS register, we found out nobody had visited this peak in the last 7 1/2 months.  We thought this peak would be more popular:
We found one of the summit survey markers a short distance away from the register box:
Heading back down Frenchman's Canyon after enjoying some time on Sentinel Peak: