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Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:56 pm
by sparky
Glad you guys made it back safely !

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:16 am
by Jimr
TR finished, just need to add some shots. I'll add those at the bottom.

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2014 11:56 am
by Jimr
Here's a group photo. The only people shot I'll ever take with on camera flash

The rest may be viewed here ... 784720712/

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:00 pm
by JustBrenda
Thanks for the great trip reports. It was nice getting to know all of you (Maverick, Russ, Jim R, and Oleander.) What an awesome effort by all of you. You too Artrock23.

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:09 pm
by maverick
Hi Brenda,

Thanks for coming and joining HST! Had a great time meeting you, and looking
forward to hiking with you and Art again. Semper Fi

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:08 pm
by oleander
On Saturday, while yesterday’s search partner (Russ) joined Art and Brenda in the Minarets, I was assigned to help Maverick and Jim with the investigation of the Ritter-Banner Saddle. Of the six of us, I was the only one who would not hike high into the Minarets this week – fine by me, as the Minarets have earned a reputation for very loose rock.

So I led Jim and Maverick – Jimerick? – to the wide use trail that Russ and I had found yesterday. I was a little self-conscious, as Jimerick, if you haven’t heard, is a very fast walker indeed. Not wanting to hold anyone up, I walked as fast as my little legs could carry me. Soon enough we had gained the valley just southeast of Ritter-Banner.

Ritter and Banner fall colors compressed.jpg

We climbed most of the route to Nydiver Lakes so as to gain a high-up view opposite the Ritter-Banner Saddle and glacier. Sat quietly and trained our binoculars first on the glacier area, then scanned Ritter and Banner from top to bottom. (A climber ascending the ridge of either peak could have fallen hundreds of feet off-route along the mountain face.) I never realized how much concentration a binocular search requires. I felt almost cross-eyed when done. Here is a photo of that saddle from a bit lower down:

Saddle compressed.jpg

I had wondered how we would spend the day. Up to the foot of the glacier? Mav had other plans for us. We were to travel to the southernmost of the Ritter Lakes – via Nydiver, Whitebark Pass, upper Garnet, the Garnet-Thousand Island Pass, North Glacier Pass, Catherine Lake, the northernmost Ritter Lakes, and fields and fields of talus - to fix our binoculars on the western approach up Ritter. Mav being the kidder he is, I was certain he was just messing with us. Ediza to the last Ritter Lake and back in one day?? Were we cross-country hiking superheroes? Jim knew better: Mav was absolutely serious.

So I bucked up and followed Jimerick up Whitebark Pass, which has a lovely view back to one of the Nydiver Lakes:

Nydiver Lakes Compressed.jpg

We made quick work of Whitebark and the Garnet-TI passes, after which Mav decided we would shortcut the roundabout North Glacier Pass by heading up a chute that gains the northeast side of Banner Peak. We rested on some glacial slabs:

Jimerick compressed.jpg

…and headed up along the left side of a waterfall on top of the chute:


We were off-route, of course. But Matthew has not been found by the dozens (possibly hundreds) of summer travelers, including Sierra High Route hikers, who have followed the “official” off-trail routes through this region. As Russ said up-thread: There is really no wrong place to look, up here. Any alternate route that a climber might have been tempted to follow, should be investigated thoroughly.

Mav had been adamant that no one should tackle anything we are not comfortable with. Soon Jim and I had reached our upper comfort threshold. Mav continued alone to the top of the chute and along the ridge to a perch high above Lake Catherine, where he could train his binoculars on the length of the north side of the Ritter-Banner Saddle approach.

So I didn’t see Catherine Lake this year, but here is a shot of the saddle taken two years ago, similarly in a low-snow year:

Catherine Lake compressed.jpg

We had reached the day’s turn-around point, well short of Ritter Lakes. Jim and I waited for Mav at one of the little lakes west of Thousand Island Lake. On the way down, Jim patiently taught me some useful things about safely traversing Class 3 terrain.

Today amounted to a lot of walking for not much binocular time. And I felt bad that I'd surely slowed down the guys a bit. But we’d done our best.

As the sun moved west, we enjoyed some beautiful lighting on the return.

Above Garnet.jpg

To make it back to camp by 5:45, we had no time to waste.

Descending Whitebark.jpg

Ritter Lakes, and the Class 2 West Slope route up to Ritter from there, are well worth further investigation. Those areas have been searched very little, as far as we know. Although that is not a snow route and it might not be considered "challenging" enough for someone with Matthew's skills, it is possible he went up that way for the scenic tour, with the intention of descending Ritter via a snow route.

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:07 pm
by oleander
Russ already wrote up our Friday search of the Clyde Variation of the Southeast Glacier Route. I wanted to add a few photos and notes.

Here’s what the Clyde approach to the glacier looks like. This time of year, it’s a pretty straightforward walk-up:

Clyde route binocs.jpg

The initial climb brings you to a fabulous view of the Minarets and Cecile Lake:

Cecile Lake compressed.jpg

After this viewpoint, the route turns sharply north, traversing a ridge and then a moraine before reaching a little glacier that is to the south of, and on the (Clyde) route to, the huge Southeast Glacier. Here is the little glacier:

Glacier compressed.jpg

There is an advantage to exploring the glaciers very late in the season: The melt-off along the bottom and the edges of the glacier might expose any items that had been hidden under snow or ice earlier in the season during former searches. It would not be a bad idea for a few more people to come up here and look around the glaciers before the first snows imminently fall. Watch your footing, as it’s an ice-skating rink up here, with extremely unstable rocks.

In our estimation, the Clyde Variation in general is a worthwhile place to return in the search for Matthew. He loved snow routes; he was outfitted for some serious snow that day; and the Clyde route features some of the greatest amount of snow crossing of any routes in the Ritter/Banner and Minarets areas.

Here is a telephoto of the Clyde Variation, taken from Shadow Lake. The first half of the route is what looks like a long sand slog on the far left side of this photo. (It’s actually easily navigable, small talus.) From the top of the slog, the route traverses right, ultimately to reach the huge Southeast Glacier (middle-right of photo). The photo above is of the little glacier halfway in between.

Clyde route close-up.jpg

On our return, Russ and I considered directly descending along the outlet of the small midroute glacier, all the way down. We decided against it because we didn’t know what the terrain near the bottom would look like. It would be good to investigate the length of that outlet. Items could be washed down there by the water.

Here’s our camp:

Camp compressed.jpg

Every night we got to soak our tired tootsies in this beguiling stream originating in the Minarets.

Minarets from camp compressed.jpg

Rest in peace, Matthew.

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:41 am
by Jimr
Excellent TR Lisa.

Re: A Search of the Minarets 9-10 to 9-14

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2014 5:28 pm
by bluefintu
You guys and gals are AWESOME !!! Thank you !!!