Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A lesson in Alpine

After a week off from climbing for me, it was determined it was a week too long. So Dave, Seth, and I decided to head up to the John Muir Wilderness and get in some alpine climbing. This was the first true alpine trip for me, so I was pretty psyched. The routes on the weekend checklist were the West Ridge of Mount Emerson and the Southeast Buttress of Mount Humphreys.

(Morning after sleeping under the stars)

The plan was to leave Thursday after work, pick up the permit for Piute Pass in Bishop, camp at the North Lake campground, and then hike up to the base of Humphreys Friday morning. But like all other trips, plans never stay true. What caused the change this time? A nineteen dollar campsite... so as Seth put it, "Screw that... we're hiking!". Let me also mention that it was 11:00 at night. So with the happy thoughts of us saving nineteen dollars, we drove to the backpackers parking lot, grabbed our gear, and headed off on a night hike. After hiking about two miles up to Lock Leven, we decided to crash there for the night. And as it being 12:50 am, we didn't even bother with tents and just slept under the stars hoping it wasn't going to rain before we woke up.

(Dave and I atop Mount Emerson)

We woke up around 6:30 Friday morning and headed up to the pass and then North towards Mount Humphreys. After setting up camp around 12,000 feet, we decided to head off to summit Mount Emerson via the West Ridge. Half way into our hike, Seth started feeling the effects from the altitude and decided it was best to head back to camp while Dave and I pushed on. The route was mostly 2nd class scrambling with some 3rd class in the middle. Views at the top were amazing but visibility was poor due to smoke from all the fires. After taking some photos, we head back and I have my first lesson in alpine climbing. Pushing too hard in the beginning is BAD.

(Me on the Summit of Mount Humphreys)

Arriving back at camp, Seth is still hurting from AS... I am hurting from the decent of Mount Emerson... are we going to be able to climb tomorrow? After Seth downed a whole lot of water and I ate, things started looking up. Saturday we woke up at 4:00 in the morning all feeling great. Tired and cold, but great! Mount Humphreys here we come.

(Seth checking the views)

Mount Humphreys was amazing! The route starts off with 2nd class scrambling leading to 3rd class in the middle. After scrambling 1000 feet or so, we took out the rope for the 5.4 climb. We decided to simu-climb to keep speed. Dave lead while I cleaned and Seth followed. After 3 pitches, we summit! Stellar views at the peak! No clouds, little smoke, perfect weather! After taking some pictures, eating some food, and taking in the views, we chose our decent and got back into camp at 11:00 in the morning.

(Dave scoping the downclimb)

After a quick discussion at base camp, we decided to hike back to the car instead of sitting around camp all day. So at noon, we left on the hike and thirty minutes into the hike, rain... the rest of the hike, rain. We reached the car at 3:00 and an hour later were eating at Famous Pizza in Bishop!

(Mount Humphreys from base camp)

Other than getting stuck on the 395 due to a mudslide and getting back home around 2:30 at night, it was definitely a stellar trip and great climbing!

1 comment:

Dave said...

Sweet writeup! Very cool weekend!!!