Date: June 9, 2009
Time: 7:30 – 9:30 pm
3921 E. Bayshore Rd.
Palo Alto, CA
Program: Climbing in the Alps
Presenter: Andrea Snadden
Andrea Snadden will share photos and experiences from a two week climbing trip she and Mike did in the Alps.
In July 2005, we took two one-week long courses with an outfit called the International School of Mountaineering. The first week was focused on building skills for glacier travel, crevasse rescue, ice climbing, and rock climbing. We only climbed two peaks that week, only one of which is worth even a brief mention - the Tete Blanche (3431 m) via the North face (rated AD, III). The second week turned out to be less of a course, more of a guided trip. We climbed three peaks - Frundenhorn (3369 m) by the North rib (PD); Doldenhorn (3638 m) by the Gallet Grat (AD); and Dent de Tsailon (3650 m) by the west ridge (D). The climbs of the Doldenhorn and Dent de Tsailon were by far the most technically challenging and interesting routes we did during the trip, and so will be the main focus of the talk.
Directions: From 101: Exit at San Antonio Road, go east to the first traffic light, turn left and follow Bayshore Rd to the PCC on the corner of Corporation Way. A sign marking the PCC is out front. Park and enter in the back of the building.
For a Google map click http://tinyurl.com/28ngaw
By Louise Wholey
If all goes as planned this is my last issue of Scree. I have enjoyed editing the newsletter for the past 2½ years. Judy Molland has agreed to become the new editor starting with the July issue. Judy is a very experienced writer as well as a great climber and lover of mountains. She has published two books!!! We are very lucky to have her as part of our team!
Please keep the reports coming. Judy will graciously receive them. We will announce the transition, likely with a new email address, though I will always forward items.
Trip leaders, please submit your trip details to Jeff Fisher, our scheduler. Begging for trip descriptions should not be part of the editor’s job!!!
Send notices of private trips to the Scree editor. They need no approval by the scheduler or mountaineering committee.
Bob Suzuki, thanks so much for always sending descriptions well in advance!
Scree is done! Whoopee! Now is the time to unpack my backpack from last weekend. I wonder what the pan used to cook the fish will smell like. Next task – pack for a week of R&R, SCUBA diving off a live-aboard in Puerto Rico.
Enjoy our trip reports! Many thanks to the contributors!
Page Trip Report
6 Tenaya Canyon by Kelly Maas
7 No. Maggie and Moses by Dana Chaney
9 Sierra Buttes by Ron Karpel
10 Finessin’ Basin by Arun Mahajan
We hope the Rumors and Reports shown below will become full trip reports in a future issue.
Rumors and Reports
Sabrina Basin Peaks
Lisa went off to the Bishop area to climb with Frank Martin and Justin. Weather and snow conditions were not ideal for her second try for the Sabrina Lakes peaks, so they headed south to the Kearsarge Pass area. She reports
“We summited Bago at 930 from our Kearsarge Lake camp. At 1030 it started raining and the previous afternoon it rained from 3pm to 8 pm, sometimes very hard. Rather than sit in a tent in the rain for 2 days, I decided to scrub the trip.”
Isabelle Peyrichoux, Emilie Cortes, Enrique Rodriguez and many others were delighted to summit Shasta via the West Face route on May 24. We sure hope for a full report on this great trip!
Scott Kreider and his son also climbed Shasta.
Lassen and Shastina
Arun Mahajan, Bob Suzuki, and Stephane Mouradian challenged themselves to day-hike Lassen Saturday and Shastina Sunday.
Three Spanish Sisters
Sonja Dieterich, Jim Wholey and Louise Wholey had a wonderful weekend in the western Sierra climbing Spanish Mountain and Three Sisters. The trip became a backpacking trip rather than day-hiles to allow Jim to fish in mountain lakes. We enjoyed the remote settings with few people (due to snow), ate lots of fresh trout, and bagged our peaks to enjoy spectacular views. Snow was not much of a factor except for speed. Rangers said the area was “closed” due to snow on the ground! Imagine walking over snow!
Email Announcement List
If you join the Sierra Club’s PCS email announcement listserv, LOMAP-PCS-ANNOUNCE, you will receive announcements of the publication of Scree as well as trip changes, new trips, events of interest, and meetings.
Frequently people say they have difficulty registering for the announcement email list. Use the web page
Older instructions requested sending an email, but many free email tools add advertising or other text to emails which prevents the server from understanding the request.
There are instructions on the last page of each issue of Scree on how to subscribe.
Spring weather has been fickle, which is not unusual, and it continues to cause some trouble with the execution of some of our trips. But people are getting out! In May we ran Moses and North Maggie, Coyote and Angora, and Three Spanish Sisters. Snow was present but not a serious problem, despite what the rangers told us. Some roads reported to be open were not. We wish they would combine backcountry travel with their desk jobs.
Our ice axe and crampon training session was a big hit and included climbing two peaks!
Roads have finally opened in the northern as well as the southern Sierra. Using the very improved east-side access, a small group climbed Basin Mtn above Bishop. Kern Peak has been rescheduled for June 20-21, now that the road is actually open.
Bad weather caused Lisa’s Thompson, Powell, Haeckel, etc. trip to be re-routed and terminated early.
We have lots of trips in June and July as you can see on our calendar. We have published trip details for big trips in August to help people plan ahead. More August trips will be described in the July Scree. Busy leaders, unfortunately, have to apologize for not supplying more details. We are grateful that they are willing to lead trips.
Come join us on beginner trips if you are inexperienced. You may find your fitness level and innate skills will allow you to do many of our other trips. People who regularly climb in a local climbing gym tend to find the technical parts of our trips (class 2-3) to be great fun!
Happy climbing! See you out there!
PCS Trip Calendar
These are required statements.
Note: CST 2087766-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.
Note: All Sierra Club trips require you to sign a Liability Waiver.
June 3 – Tinkers Knob Mid-Week Day Hike (Tahoe area)
Leader: Lisa Barboza
June 6-7 – Mt. Shasta
Leader: George Van Gorden
June 15-16 – Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne (Yosemite)
Leader: Kelly Maas
June 20-21 – Kern Peak (Southern Sierra)
Leader: Louise Wholey
June 27-28 – Silver Peak (Western Sierra)
Leader: Aaron Schuman
June 27-28 – Highland Peak (Ebbits Pass)
Leader: Charles Schafer
Jul 1-5 – Eisen, Lippincott, Eagle Scout (Mineral King)
Leader: Lisa Barboza
Jul 3-5 – Red, White and Blue Special (East side)
Leader: Louise Wholey
Jul 11-12 – Amelia Earhart Peak, and Dana or Toulumne Peak
Leader: Joe Baker
Jul 11-12 – Gibbs (Yosemite)
Leader: Charles Schafer
Jul 12 – Mt. Lola (Tahoe area)
Leader: Jim Wholey
Jul 25-26 – Kearsarge (above Independence)
Leader: Charles Schafer
Jul 25-Aug 2– Goddard Divide (High Sierra from east side)
Leader: Aaron Schuman
Jul 26-27 – Langley (14,026)
Leader: Lisa Barboza
Jul 30 – Aug 7 – Goddard, Scylla (High Sierra from west side)
Leader: Joe Baker
Private Trips Summary
Important: Private trips are not insured, sponsored, or supervised by the Sierra Club. They are listed here because they may be of interest to PCS members. Private trips may be submitted directly to the Scree editor. Details on these trips follow the trip reports. In this issue.
June 12-14 – Matterhorn, Whorl
June 27-28, 2009 – Mt. Baldwin
July 3-5, 2009 – Mt. Humphreys and Mt Emerson
August 1-8, 2009 – Brewer, S&N Guard, Table, Thunder, Jordan
August 8-11– Electra Peak
October 2009 – Nepal - Mera Peak 21,300 ft
January 2010 – Kilimanjaro
PCS Trip Details
Goal: Mt. Shasta
Dates: June 6-7, 2009, Saturday - Sunday
Leader: George Van Gorden (email@example.com)
Co-Lead: Bob Suzuki (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Difficulty: ice axe, crampons, steep snow experience required
We will be climbing the mountain by the West Face gully. This is a very lovely route which used to be hardly traveled but now is getting more crowded though nothing like the standard route. We will meet in the town of Mt. Shasta on Sat. morning, drive to bunny flat at 6800 feet and start walking up to our camp at 9200 feet. Sunday we will go to the summit, return to our camp and then on down to the cars. Previous training with crampons and ice ax is required for this climb. You must know how to do self-arrest. The upper part of the climb gets a little steep. This trip is restricted to Sierra Club members.
Conservation theme of the trip: A climb of Mt. Shasta can be life changing. The views during the climb and from the top can make the most indifferent individual into an ardent conservationist. In those many moments of rest during the climb when the body is desperate for oxygen, many climbers will have a moment at least of epiphany when the splendor of this planet shows through the madness of more and more profit and production and progress and the climber will in that moment reaffirm to him/herself a commitment to do whatever he or she can to conserve the beauty at is all around and up and down and everywhere.
Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne
Canyon of the Tuolumne
Date: June 13-15, Saturday – Monday
Leader: Kelly Maas (email@example.com)
Co-Lead: Landa Robillard
Difficulty: Class 1+
A 30 mile backpack on trails in Yosemite. Start at White Wolf and end at Tuolumne Meadows. After descending 3500 feet (net) to the Tuolumne River, we follow it upstream for 4200 feet (net) past gushing waterfalls and the Glen Aulin high sierra camp. Though it's on trail and not at high altitude, don't underestimate the difficulty or beauty of this route. A car shuttle between the two trailheads is required.
This trip is currently scheduled as a 3-day trip, but I'll accept inquiries from people who would only be able to do it as a 2-day (very strenuous) trip. There is a chance that it may be changed to 2-days.
Date: June 20-21, Saturday – Sunday (New Date!)
Leader: Louise Wholey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Difficulty: Class 2, moderate trip
Climb this remote peak in the southern Sierra near Kennedy Meadows. Satday we will backpack from the Black Rock Trail Head at 8,960' for 8.6 miles with 1500' of gain (with ups and downs) to camp at Redrock Meadows at 8,626'. Then we will climb class 2 Kern Peak in 11 miles and 2,884' of gain, including 6 miles of cross-country. Sunday we will backpack out in 8.6 miles and 1800' of gain (with ups and downs). Note the trail head is 334 feet higher than our camp site. Moderate exertion.
Difficulty: Class 2, beginner-intermediate trip
Devil’s Graveyard sounds like a place name out of The Blair Witch Project, but that’s what the Sierra National Forest calls our campsite. We’ll hike from Lake Thomas A. Edison (2330 m), taking easy trail to Devil’s Bathtub (2794 m) and continuing cross-country to our camp at the diabolical headwaters (3250 m). Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, we’ll visit the class 2 summit of Silver Peak (3620 m). Sunday hike out and drive home.
Peak (10,935’ - Class 2)
Date: June 27-28, Saturday – Sunday
Leader: Charles Schafer (email@example.com)
Difficulty: Class 2, beginner trip
This is a relatively slow-paced dayhike, suitable for beginners. We will car-camp near Ebbetts Pass, then hike up Noble Canyon to grab the peak. Sunday is open at this point, with options to perhaps try something else, do some exploring, or have a leisurely drive home. This is an area of the Sierra that we don’t often explore, so the hike should be enjoyable.
Red, White and Blue Special
and White Mtn (12,816), class 2-3
Date: July 3-5, Friday - Sunday
Leader: Louise Wholey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Co-Lead: Jim Wholey
Difficulty: Class 2, moderate trip, may be some snow climbing
Baclpack about 7 miles up the McGee Creek Trail starting at about 7800 ft to Big McGee Lake at 10,400. Climb Red and White Mtn southeast face. For faster stronger hikers, an option exists to also climb Red Slate Mtn (13,163) from McGee Pass. These peaks are very colorful, great for celebrating our national birthday.
Amelia Earhart Peak and Gibbs
Difficulty: Class 2, moderate trip
Spend two days in the awesome Tuolumne Meadows area of Yosemite. We’ll be doing two day hikes: on Saturday we’ll meet early at our trailhead to climb the class 2 Amelia Earhart, one of the lesser known Yosemite peaks. This is a 16 mile round trip. On Sunday we’ll summit Mount Gibbs, class 1, or Mount Dana, class 1. This will be a shorter day, so participants should be able to head back by late afternoon.
Date: July 12, Sunday
Leader: Jim Wholey (510-697-1858)
Difficulty: Class 1, beginner trip
This will be trail day-hike up Mt Lolla. We will meet at Henness Pass Road, near Hwy 89 (~15 miles north of Hwy 80 from Truckee) at 9:00am to carpool to the trailhead. To join the trip leave a phone message indicating interest.
Haeckel, Wallace, Fiske, Huxley, McGee, Black Giant, Solomons, Thompson,
Date: Jul 25 – Aug 2, Saturday – Sunday
Leader: Aaron Schuman
Difficulty: Class 2-3, extended mountaineering trip
We’ll trek for a week through the breathtaking Evolution region of the Sierra Nevada, backpacking to infrequently visited rockbound lake basins and climbing challenging summits. We’ll make a loop from our trailhead at Lake Sabrina (near the town of Big Pine), packing cross-country across the Goddard Divide at Wallace Col, spending an average of two nights at each camp, and ultimately returning to our trailhead with a cross-country pack back across the Goddard Divide at Echo Col. We’ll be challenged by the ruggedness of the terrain, the high elevations (up to 13500 feet), the weight of our packs with a week’s food, and the mountaintops of class 2 and 3 difficulty. None of the summits require the use of a rope. This trip has a maximum of six participants.
Difficulty: Class 2, moderate extended High Sierra trip
A chance to explore the beautiful Ionian Basin. We’ll start from Florence Lake, making our way initially along the John Muir trail, before going cross-country to our first peak, Mt. Henry. From there, we’ll be heading into Goddard Canyon, where we’ll summit Mt. McGee and Mt. Goddard, before arriving at the magnificent Ionian Basin, where we’ll climb Scylla and finally Black Giant. Peaks are class 1 and 2.
Private Trip Details
Note: Private trips are not insured, sponsored, or supervised by the Sierra Club. They are listed here because they may be of interest to PCS members. Private trips may be submitted directly to the Scree editor.
Peak: Mt. Baldwin (12,615')
Dates: June 27-28, 2009, Saturday - Sunday
Contacts: Chris Prendergast (email@example.com)
Bob Suzuki (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We'll backpack from the trailhead parking at Convict Lake to our camp site at Bright Dot Lake. Sunday morning we'll ascend the northwest slope and take time for a leisurely snack on the summit. Ice axes possibly needed.
Mt Humphreys and Mt Emerson
Peaks: Mt Humphreys (13,986'), Mt Emerson
Dates: July 3-5, 2009, Fri-Sun, 3 days
Contact: Bob Suzuki (email@example.com)
Difficulty: class 4, rope
Visit the scenic North Fork of Bishop Creek, Piute Pass and alpine Humphreys Basin. Endure the class 2, loose scree of Humphreys' southwest slope before enjoying the final two short, roped pitches over solid rock. A half rope-length rappel begins the decent. Required: climbing harness, belay/rappel device, roped climbing experience, group bear canisters; also, a $10 deposit to cover cost of the permit (forfeit if cancel, difference refunded at trailhead).
Brewer, S&N Guard, Table, Thunder, Jordan
(13570), S Guard (13232), N Guard (13327),
Table (13632), Thunder (13517+), Jordan (13320+)
Dates: Aug 1-8, 2009; Saturday-Saturday
Contact: Bob Suzuki (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Jim Ramaker (email@example.com)
Difficulty: class 4, rope
A long and strenuous backpack from Road's End in Kings Canyon NP to our base camps near East Lake will position us for attempts on nearby class 4 summits. If interested please be fast, strong, confident and skilled on rock and snow.
Peak: Elektra (12,442'), Class 2
Dates: Aug 8-11, 2009; Saturday-Tuesday
Contact: Debbie Benham, (650/964-0558, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Difficulty: extended cross-country travel
Starting from Tuolumne Meadows, we'll head up Rafferty Creek, over Vogelsang Pass, follow then cross Lewis Creek, pass by the Cony Crags, then head up the Lyell Fork drainage to climb Elektra Peak. Permit for 5. Must have backpacking experience and comfortable hiking cross country (we leave the trail as we follow the Lyell Fork drainage). To find out about the peak's namesake, read Sophocles's play 'Elektra' (410 B.C.), based on the famous Greek Orestes myth.
Mera Peak 21,300 ft, Nepal
Peaks: Mera Peak (21,300 ft), Nepal
Dates: October, 2009
Contact: Warren Storkman (650-493-8959, email@example.com)
19 day trip to trek the tallest walkup peak
Rural experience. Approach from the South East
Kilimanjaro 19340 ft / 5895 m, Tanzania, Africa
Peaks: Kilimanjaro 19340 ft / 5895 m
Dates: January, 2010
Contact: Warren Storkman (650-493-8959, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Trip will be similar to Warren’s previous trip to Kilimanjaro in January 2002. A couple of detailed reports on Summit Post supply myriad detail:
July 14 is our annual picnic and gear swap. We will again hold the event at the Wildwood Park in Saratoga. This park has some very neat play devices for kids of all ages – slides, water play, climbing devices, swings, etc. It is a rustic setting in a beautiful oak forest hidden behind downtown Saratoga. Bring something to share. We will issue ideas by name but will never turn down your specialties. Alcohol is ok.
Bring that gear cluttering your garage that you will never use again. Someone may be delighted to get it!
California Mountaineering Group newsletter on Yahoo Groups has lots of great reports: http://tinyurl.com/r4jc8u
Tenaya Canyon, Sep 6, 2008
By Kelly Maas
I first heard about descending Tenaya Canyon years ago, but it wasn’t until last year that I actually did it. I did it with Monique Messie and Peter Maxwell. It was a bit adventurous and a lot of fun, and I heartily recommend that all capable climbers do it at least once. Rather than write a blow by blow account of it, my intent here is to outline the important factors, particularly the logistics.
What: a dramatic and varied canyon, with sweeping vistas of vast granite, a lot of rock scrambling including some technical and steep sections, and some cross country travel through forest.
Where: from the Sunrise Camp / Clouds Rest trailhead (just west of Tenaya Lake on Hwy 120) to the Mirror Lake trailhead in Yosemite Valley.
Intrigue: The official park map has the following warning printed in this area in red letters: Hiking in Tenaya Canyon is dangerous and strongly discouraged. At a key point about 1.5 miles from the trailhead (and not near any trail), there is a metal sign:
--- Warning ---
This is not a trail.
Travel beyond this
point is dangerous
to Tioga Road.
Direction of travel: It seemed obvious to me to go down. I think that’s what most people do. However, R.J. Secor describes it in the uphill direction in his book.
Difficulty: This probably depends on the direction of travel. There is a long and steep slab to descend between the upper and middle sections of the canyon. You want boots with excellent traction, and confidence on steep slabs. Rock shoes (or approach shoes with sticky rubber) are not required, but would give added confidence and safety margin. This is probably easier to ascend than descend. Later we did 2 rappels from fixed anchors. (They would pose real obstacles going uphill.) There was a considerable amount of difficult class 2 scrambling, and plenty of class 3 moves too. There is one place where it’s virtually impossible to avoid swimming, or at least chest deep wading. Overall it’s a long and tiring day.
Time and distance: It’s only about 10 miles, but it’s a long day. We took about 11.5 hours.
Gear: Rope (50m is plenty); a couple of carabiners and slings; boots or approach shoes (good traction, good support, comfortable, good for scrambling); 2 liters water capacity; water pump or iodine; swimming apparel; dry bag or garbage bags to keep stuff dry; backpackers towel for drying off; headlamp.
Water: You descend a creek, but strangely enough, it’s not always there. Fill up whenever you get the chance, unless you’re really good at predicting when it will disappear and reappear.
When: We went in September because I wanted to avoid the heat of mid summer. It ended up being a hot day – more typical of August - but it was no problem. In fact warmer weather is better when it comes to swimming the pools. Next time I’d do it in August. In August, the days are longer – a big plus – and the summer buses are still running between the Valley and Tuolumne Meadows / Mammoth. If you go too early in the year, there may be too much water flowing, and the water might be colder. Maybe late July is OK in a typical year.
Logistics: The two trailheads may be only 10 miles apart, but it’s much further to drive. So doing a car shuttle takes time. Here’s what we did: reserved a campsite in Yosemite Valley for Friday and Saturday nights; had 2 vehicles for 3 of us; Saturday morning drove 1 vehicle to the Sunrise trailhead, leaving all non-hiking gear in the 2nd car in the valley; starting the hike at about 7:15am; got on the Valley shuttle bus about 6:45pm and rode it to our camp; ate dinner in a valley restaurant; Sunday morning drove back to Sunrise trailhead and retrieved the first car.
Hints: Camping in Yosemite Valley was convenient, but otherwise it ranks as an unpleasant experience. I’d rather camp at Tamarack Flat, White Wolf, Yosemite Creek or Porcupine Creek. Get an early start so you have time to enjoy the wonderful pools. Go when it’s warm for the same reason. YARTS and the park service run daily buses between the valley and the high country, but their schedules might not be quite what’s needed. There’s also the park shuttle running between Tuolumne Meadows and Olmsted Point. If campgrounds are booked when you want to go, keep checking online every day because they do get cancellations. (I had to keep checking, but I got campsites in the valley on short notice.)
References (just a few of many)
No. Maggie and Moses, May 9-10, 2009
By Dana Chaney
I volunteered to co-lead the climb of North Maggie and Moses Mountains with Louise Wholey as part of my training to become an outdoor leader and this was my first co-lead. From San Jose I drove south of Fresno, over to Porterville, up past Springville, and then a mountain road up to about 6,000 feet in the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest. The gate was locked where we were supposed to turn to the campground and trailhead at Hidden Falls and I drove around for a while until I found the group sacked out at the Frasier Mill campground. The group consisted of the leader Louise Wholey, your trip reporter and co-leader Dana Chaney, Meri Galindo, Artur Klauser, Eddie Sudol, Lisa Barboza, Rod McCalley, Jesper Schou, Frank Martin, Samantha Olsen, Judy Molland, and Will Molland. Despite being miles from where we planned to be everybody found the group, demonstrating that Sierra Club people are used to a certain flexibility in these trip details. The gates added about another six miles round trip to the hike and I felt that on the way out. From a gate above the Frasier Mill Campground we hiked to the Shake Camp trailhead. There was a lot of snow on the trail at the higher elevations but not at the lower altitude so it wasn’t clear why the gates in the park area were still up.
There are an abundance of Giant Sequoias in the park and on the trail, some as big as you would see anywhere. Where we parked at the gate was a tree with a room hollowed out at the base. The room was about 8 feet by 8 feet which apparently took a guy four or five years to do in the late 1800s and his plan was to live in the room. It was soaking wet inside from the tree raining sap and pitch all over the place and utterly uninhabitable. One would think the guy would have figured that out after a year or two, three years at the most!
We hiked about six miles total to a meadow at the north end of Long Meadow right between the two peaks and on the east bank of the Tule River. We had a river crossing from the west side to the east side at Redwood Crossing which consisted of a semi-steep log. The wood was a bit spongy which was good for the poles, the log was wide and not slippery but the exposure was significant. We had the easier angle going up the log on the hike in. This was one reason we decided to hike to the Hidden Falls trailhead on the way back so we wouldn’t have this river crossing.
We set up camp and headed out to climb North Maggie Peak at about 11 AM. We headed north a ways along the Tule River, then headed east, and climbed through the brush, thick and thorny for a few short stretches, up and north and dropped into a large gully that approaches the peak from the northwest side. At this point there was almost constant snow which was a bit mushy but not yet wet. It was a long climb up the gully until we headed south onto the saddle between Peak 10,113 and North Maggie which is directly behind it to the east. There was another 500 foot steep scramble up boulders and some snow to the top which was snow covered. The views were good and the Kaweahs could be seen peaking over the ridge to the northeast maybe 20 miles away behind Vandever Mountain and Florence Peak. The weather was sunny and warm.
The register for North Maggie is in the rocks behind; the guy in the Tilly hat is me.
For the climb down, we went north along the ridge between North Maggie and another 10,000 foot peak due north and dropped back into the gully from the saddle. We stayed to the north side of the gully on the theory we would avoid brush and we largely did and then we dropped into the gully floor and continued on the snow. There were some nice rivulets from the snow melt and we filled our water bottles. We made it back to camp before 6 PM and had plenty of sunshine left. Since we had another peak the next day plus the hike out the group was pretty much in the sack by 8:30.
I didn’t bring a tent since I had a new zero degree sleeping bag, the Marmot Never Summer, and I wanted to both try it out and lighten my pack. There were no mosquitoes around yet. I had on some extra clothes and was warm in the bag but not hot. I think it probably only just froze that night so I am still not clear on how warm the bag is. I think it would be good for zero degrees inside a tent with plenty of clothes on and that is a bit disappointing.
The next morning we were up at 5:30 AM and on the trail at 6:45. Judy Molland and her son Will had joined us the prior evening so we now had 12 climbers. We headed north looking for a river crossing to cross back to the west bank to climb Moses Mountain. We found a dicey looking wet log only about 12 inches in diameter but with only about 8 feet to cross. Some of us balanced across and some took a helping hand or hiking stick.
We saw large black bear tracks of recent vintage and, eventually, we saw the bear. We headed north a bit looking for a gully somewhat opposite the gully on North Maggie on the other side. We headed straight up the mountain and eventually found a good way to the ridge. The gulley and the ridges on either side more or less flattened out at the top so the choice of route could be the gulley or a ridge, whatever is easiest. However, the gullies to the south closer to the peak were much more challenging. Once on the ridge, we traversed south mostly not far below the ridge on the east side for about a half mile of Class 2 and Class 3 climbing south to the peak at 9,331 feet. It was rather fun scrambling with some exposure but never more than moderate Class 3 until we hit one steep snow crossing. One person got up a steep move across the snow but I couldn’t do it and there was a steep drop that made the move closer to Class 4. Finally, after we looked around for another route, Will Molland hacked away at the snow for a while with an ice ax and improved the move back to Class 3 and we all went across.
All 12 of us made the top which was again warm and sunny with great views so we stayed on top an hour. Among the group somebody knew just about everybody who had signed the register. Multiple list finishers appeared multiple times. Moses is apparently not climbed much and the register goes back to around 1961. We were the first group of the year and there were no sign-ins for the entire year of 2008. It was a nice climb and could be done as a day trip particularly when the gates into the park are open. The Class 3 didn’t seem all that challenging so I don’t know why there were no climbs in 2008.
We short cut the return by climbing into a closer gully and it went all the way to the bottom with a good deal of snow and fairly open forest for a pleasant return. When we got to the Tule River we were a ways from either of the crossings we had taken before. Some forded the river in their boots but I had been fairly successful in keeping my boots dry and didn’t want to start the hike out to the trailhead in soaked boots. I am not the kind who can walk on a river bottom in bare feet. I saw a log crossing up river and Eddie Sudol and I went up and made it across despite some water running over the log.
We had spotted a lily plant on the climb and took some photos since it was so pretty. It turns out to be a rare and endangered subspecies that only grows in the area where we were climbing, maybe a few miles in either direction:
Erythronium grandiflorum, ssp pusaterii, commonly known as Hockett Lakes Fawn Lily
We hiked all the way out on the east side of the river and came out at the Hidden Falls trailhead. There turned out to be no bridge, just another ford. Fortunately it was paved so everybody could cross with their boots off.
We then started up a long, long road grade that seemed never ending, bringing to my mind the five miles slog up the road from the Kern River coming back from Rockhouse Peak on the east side. To add interest, the new route back was not on anybody’s map so we weren’t positively sure it was the way back at all. We had GPS and we weren’t lost but I was tired enough and the road went on long enough, I was concerned that we might have to backtrack. In the end, we came out on the right road near Shake Camp and it was another mile to the cars. We got to the cars in daylight at about 6:30 PM.
I had hiked at the back of the pack on the long climb up the road with Samantha Olson and Eddie Sudol and Samantha said at one point she wished there was a cold beer at the trailhead. I advised her that there was indeed cold beer at the trailhead and enough to share. Unfortunately, I had misremembered the numbers of beers I had on ice in the trunk of the car. I remembered putting in three Coronas and a Firestone. Jesper Schou had waited for us at an intersection and now there were four of us at the back of the pack so I generously promised three beers to the others who were now very much looking forward to the refreshments. I therefore could not renege when I discovered I never did put that Firestone in the cooler and only three ice cold Coronas greeted me when I popped the trunk. I was too embarrassed to admit my memory was so poor so I cheerfully took the caps off and passed out the three Coronas. I didn’t get the cold Corona until the next day and it tasted nothing like a Corona does at the trailhead after a long, long day. It is really a different category of beer. There is trailhead beer and then there is everything else.
Sierra Buttes, May 24, 2009
By Ron Karpel
Participants: Daphne Karpel, Ron Karpel
The road to Packer Lake Saddle was dry and clear, but a sign at the center of it said “Road Closed”. We didn’t know any better, so from Packer Lake we took the diagonal trail, marked “4WD”, going through Tamarack Lakes and joining the normal trail after climbing the saddle. The penalty for respecting the “Road Closed” sign was 1 mile and 700ft elevation gain in addition to the normal trail.
My GPS came in handy on this trip since the trail was mostly under snow. We followed the waypoints from one trail junction to the next without seeing the trail. The snow was very firm. I hardly had any snow getting into my low cut boots on the way up, but picked up quite a bit on the way down. Some places were steep enough so that I had to cut boot platform for Daphne. The summit area and the ladder to the top were mostly clear. This seems to be a popular destination despite the early date and the amount of snow.
On the way back, we discovered that most visitors ignored the sign and drove to the regular parking area at Packer Lake Saddle. The local tour guide minibus driver who gave us a lift back to Packer Lake said “In Sierra County, whenever you see a road close sign, just ignore it.”
A round trip of 8 mile and 2500 feet elevation gain (about 5 hours including breaks) got us back to our car.
Basin Mtn (13181), May 16-17, 2009
By Arun Mahajan
We had word that the Sonora Pass was to open after its winter hibernation. The last excuse to stay home this weekend thus eliminated, we four (Bob Suzuki, Ron Karpel, Scott Kreider and myself) decided to head over to the eastern Sierra to attempt Basin Mountain (13181 ft).
Basin looks like the rampart of a fort and stays in view for quite a few minutes as one is driving north on 395 leaving Bishop and has a moderate couloir that remains 'in' for only a short time after spring. Our objective was to climb this couloir and then head for the summit from the top of the couloir via the remaining 400 ft or so of rock, rated to be everything from 4th class and upward.
There are a few good reports about this peak on SummitPost and Climber.Org that give good beta on the East Couloir route and we had some excellent information about it also from our friend, Dee, who had climbed this route a few years ago.
The hike in from the Buttermilk Road (Horton Creek TH) to base camp at the base of the couloir (abandoned mineshaft area) took us only three hours on Saturday afternoon and very soon we were in bed with an alpine start planned for Sunday morning. We were walking at 5.30am on Sunday and we had brought along a 50m rope and some pro for the rock. Knowing the angle of the snow, we had decided that we did not need pro for the snow/ice. There was a lot of snow in the couloir but it was not very hardened and we made good time.
The sun was already up and even at this early hour the snow was showing signs of softening. We walked past a large wet-slide and topped the couloir to the outstanding sight of Humphreys dead in front. Here we de-fanged and all the pointy snow stuff went into the packs and we stared at the rock pile in front to assess.
Dee had told us that we needed to look around and we would find the fourth class and if we ended up in 5th class then we could be off route. With Ron and Scott leading the way, curving left (west) we made our way to the top on mostly 3rd class but with definitely a few moves of fourth class thrown in to spice things up and and which got our attention. A local climber, from Bishop, climbing fast and strong soon overtook us on the rock having hiked in that same morning from the trailhead (!) and we followed him to the top. The views were wonderful....Humphreys, Tom, the peaks accessed from Pine Creek, the Dade/Abbott group, etc etc. This climber told us that he sometimes climbs with Peter Croft. It was no wonder then that he had come up so fast. It was warm and windless. One of those Sierra summit days where you do not want to hike back down again...but we had to, like every other time, go back too, so we said our goodbyes to Andrew, the Bishop climber and watched him scamper down the 5th class, without rope. We decided that we would rather rap down than retrace our way. Ron, leading the way down, got us to a rap station. We backed up the older slings with our own and rap-ed down and were soon enjoying our hard earned lunch at the couloir top. Now the snow in the gully was turning into mush and we joyfully glissaded down to camp, packed up and hiked back down.
Scott expertly drove his Outback from the rocky road back to Bishop and very soon we were on our way home. This was yet another great trip into the eastern Sierra and we were all wondering as to why we had not climbed this route before?
Our times (not fast):
Trailhead to camp near mine: 3 hrs, Camp to top of couloir: 3 hrs, Couloir-top to summit: 1.5 hrs, From summit, back to couloir-top: 1.5 hrs, Couloir-top to camp: 50 mins, From camp back to car: 1hr 40 mins
Thanks are due to the report by Rob Yang (@climber.org), the SummitPost page on Basin (by misha) and advice from Dee which helped us a lot and to my companions, Ron, Bob and Scott for their company and for the care and attention to the anchors and the slings at the rap stations!
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