TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

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Flamingo
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TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by Flamingo » Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:01 pm

Hi All,

Over the weekend, the smoke cleared (sort of), and Emigrant Wilderness re-opened (sort of), so I seized the opportunity to climb Relief Peak in Emigrant Wilderness. I've been curious about this peak for a long time, and I feel proud that I finally climbed it. However, the route involved much annoying loose scree. This peak is not making my list of Summits to Climb Twice.

Route: I followed Bob Burd’s GPX track from Kennedy Meadows trailhead, cross-country up Grouse Creek, and then to the summit along the NW ridge. I then traversed along the ridge towards Molo Mountain. After about 2 miles, I departed from Bob's route and descended south to Lunch Meadow. I rejoined the Summit Creek trail, and returned to KM.

Story: On Friday afternoon, I printed my Emigrant Wilderness permit, drove to the KM trailhead, and started hiking at 6:30 pm. With help from my headlamp, I hiked until I reached Relief Reservoir at 8:00. I made a dry camp on a granite shelf away from the trail. The night was warm, so I slept out on my tarp instead of pitching a tent.

At first light on Saturday, I woke to the clip-clopping of a horse train marching up the trail. I energized myself with a couple hardboiled eggs and dried mangos, and packed my gear. I followed Bob Burd’s GPX track, which steeply bushwhacks up the north side of Grouse Creek to reach the hanging valley above. This route was… adventurous, to say the least. The hillside is a steep maze of cliffs and car-sized boulders, overgrown with manzanita and huckleberry oak. I occasionally found boot prints along this route—giving me reassurance—-but I must admit this route was tough for me. At several points the only viable forward path was big boulder scrambling while simultaneously bushwhacking though sharp manzanita. By the time I reached the top, my legs were shredded. Above 8,400’, the terrain leveled out and I enjoyed easy walking along Grouse Creek through open forest. In the morning sunshine, walking through this valley was very delightful. I soon reached the head of Grouse Creek Canyon.

I continued up Bob’s route: I climbed the forested ridge to a (dry) tarn, and then climbed further on open scree slopes to a second tarn. The scree here was surprisingly loose, which made me feel challenged and sometimes frustrated. I would take one step up, and the scree would slide one step down. I persistently slid downhill, even when I paused to catch my breath. I put myself in Turbo Mode and pushed hard to beat the scree. When I finally reached the upper tarn, I felt exhausted. I rested by the tarn and refilled my water; I poured a pile of sand out from my shoes. This was a nice break spot and I appreciated the starkness of this ecosystem -- it's just rock, water, and sky. The wind was oddly quiet during my visit. I sprawled on the ground and dozed asleep for a few minutes.

I circled clockwise from the upper tarn to join the NW ridge. I followed the ridge to the solar-powered weather station, where I paused to admire its Faraday Cage engineering. I am genuinely curious about how this station was installed. It's seriously heavy hardware, and it must have been delivered by helicopter?

I walked along the ridge and ascended the final 200’ to the summit of Relief Peak. I was rewarded with blue sky vistas over Emigrant Wilderness and beyond. I felt lucky to have far-reaching summit views in this very smokey wildfire season. To the east, I saw the upper peaks of Yosemite, and to the west I saw Mokelumne Peak. Far to south, I saw smoke plumes. The wind was forecast to change direction tomorrow, and that smoke would soon blow this way. These blue skies were a limited-time opportunity for today only.

From the summit, I traversed east along the ridge towards Molo Mountain. After about 2 miles, I descending south and landed in Lunch Meadow. I picked up the Summit Creek trail, and descended back towards the trailhead. Above Saucer Meadow, I made camp to enjoy a burning red sunset. The next morning, on Sunday, I hiked back to KM trailhead.

Photos Below...
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Last edited by Flamingo on Fri Oct 02, 2020 1:22 pm, edited 20 times in total.








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Flamingo
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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by Flamingo » Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:04 pm

Photos 2 of 2...
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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by Harlen » Tue Sep 29, 2020 11:53 pm

Wow! What a great inspiration for us. You proved that with luck and perhaps your good planning (?), you can have a great trip in the burning Sierra.
Congrats, we're all happy for you, and are inspired to try it ourselves. Thanks Flamingo man!

p.s. what is that sharp peak to the far left in your first pano shot? Looks like fun.

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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by Flamingo » Wed Sep 30, 2020 1:40 am

@Harlen -- the leftmost peak in the first pano shot is probably Molo Mountain, or one of the unnamed peaks along the ridge leading to Molo. If you're curious to read about truly crazy/inspiring route, then checkout this Peaks for Freaks trip report, which includes Relief Peak, Molo Mountain, and all the other peaks along the traverse.

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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by Harlen » Wed Sep 30, 2020 2:52 pm

Flamingo writes:
If you're curious to read about truly crazy/inspiring route, then checkout this Peaks for Freaks trip report, which includes Relief Peak, Molo Mountain, and all the other peaks along the traverse.
Wow, those guys have some great endurance. Thanks for the window into the Peaks for Freaks Trip Report. That's all new area for me, and surprisingly impressive mountain country, especially when seen with so much snow cover. It looks like a dog's nightmare trip, with so much sharp rock, but I still love being up on ridges. What do you think about a lesser traverse, which would wrap around to Kennedy Peak, and then descend from there?

Thanks for the link, Ian.

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c9h13no3
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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 3:32 pm

Pretty textbook for how a trip should go right now. Get in, get out while the air is good and keep it short. I think your only mistake was doing a scree climb in late season when it's not snow covered :P.
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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by paul » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:23 pm

Nice. I've often wondered whether the 'shwack up the lower part of Grouse Creek would be worth the reward of the upper bowl. Maybe not. I've done enough manzanita to last me a lifetime. But the top sure looks nice.
Harlen - I haven't been up that particular ridge, but have been to Lost Lake, and down to Kennedy lake from there, and up Big Sam a few times, and up Leavitt Peak Via Blue Canyon, and I would say it's not good Bearzy country unless you take him up there in spring on the snow. The scree is nasty and abrasive, the bigger rocks are very rough and shreddy. Very hard on his feet. But you'd like it.

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c9h13no3
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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by c9h13no3 » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:32 pm

Can confirm, ridge is cool in spring. The hiker in this photo? Not so cool.

Not sure how @Harlen hasn’t been there yet. So close to the Bay Area. Wanna ski it with me this April?
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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by Gazelle » Fri Oct 02, 2020 10:06 am

relief peak is nasty/loose/sharp! wouldnt go near there again unless there is snow! Maybe ski trip to do the ridges and peaks?
The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. Albert Einstein

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Re: TR: Relief Peak & Beyond (Sept. 25-27, 2020)

Post by paul » Wed Oct 14, 2020 3:54 pm

Looking over at that ridge from the top of Big Sam, spring 2007. Molo Mtn is the near peak just right of center
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