Yosemite Redux, High Country Gems Sept 28-30, 2013

Topics related to peak bagging, rock climbing and bouldering in the foothills and high country of the Sierra Nevada. Be sure to also check out the Information Booth forum category to learn from / see if you can contribute to a profile for High Sierra 13'ers, 14'ers and cross country passes.
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John Morrow
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Yosemite Redux, High Country Gems Sept 28-30, 2013

Post by John Morrow » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:18 pm

Hi All,
I am new to the forum and post on NWHikers. Thought I'd post links to some TR's I wrote of Sierra trips over the summer. I'll have to kink to the pictures.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23557848@N ... 101851273/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I departed Yosemite last week feeling like I left things unfinished,
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8007780" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ,
so after a week of fair weather to melt snow and warm the temps slightly, I had to return.

All three of these trailheads are within a 15 minute drive from the Tioga Pass (east) entrance of the park.

Saturday I got to Tioga Pass from Reno a bit late, so opted for the scenic hike to the Gaylor Lakes with a side trip up Gaylor Peak 11,004'. Peak 12,002' (False White Mtn) teased me so much on the entire hike that I had to go there too!

It is a short wonderful 2.1 miles, along both lakes, to the pass with the Great Sierra mine ruins.

From the mine I continued over stable and solidly embedded bouldery scree to the summit of False White Mountain for some late afternoon views north to Mt Conness.
On the return I spied a nice looking easy rock rib to the summit of Gaylor Peak. Easy Class 2, delightfully firm, led me to the top. From there I walked the user trail on the south slope back to the main trail and out to Tioga Pass as the sunset.
I spent the night at Porcupine Flat campground once again at 8100 feet for a reasonable $10. Dead and down firewood (permissible)was easy to find along the Tioga Road and warmed me as temps went well below freezing.

Out of camp early this was the big day, Saturday. The day I continue where I left off to take care of unfinished business:

Cathedral Peak 11, 911': North ridge to Mountaineers Route: Class 4
Echo Peaks Traverse continued:
Echo #2 10,920+: Class 3/4 North Ridge
Echo #1 10,920+: Class 2 East Face
Echo #6 10,840+: Class 4 North Ridge (a few moves, brief)
Echo #5 10,920+: Class 2/3 North Ridge (I bailed here last week)
Echo #7 10,880+: Class 3 North Ridge

Note; I incorrectly thought Echo #5 was Echo #1 last week.

Here is a fantastic approach. Rather than taking either the John Muir Trail or the Budd Lake trail out of Tuolumne Meadows at the Cathedral lakes TH, start for 15 minutes on the JMT/Budd Lake Trail and then head directly to the east side of the lengthy North Ridge of Cathedral Peak. This is scenic open forest to solid low angle slabs. Once on the ridge it is delightful granite bedrock ridge walking. The final rise up to the North Peak of Cathedral is Class 2.

Without needing to go any farther, nor harder, a maintained climber approach trail descends back to Budd Creek and Lake. But I had my eyes on the famous John Muir Mountaineers route to the true summit. It starts up the west side near the crest with Eichorn Pinnacle on a variety of flakes, ledges, and low angle slabs. Just twenty feet from the summit I was forced through the highest notch on a exposed 10 foot southside traverse to the Class 4, 15 foot cracks, finish of the Southeast Buttress route. I was the first one up there that day due to the climbers wanting sun to warm the rock. My frozen fingers could attest to that. I found it very exposed and almost conceded to its intimidating vertical look and my cold fingers. 15 minutes of looking for alternatives and generally psyching myself up (5 minutes that felt like 15, anyway), I worked it out!

The descent felt easier now that I had it down and soon I was looking to revisit the Echo Peaks.
The snowy saddle separating Echo Ridge from Echo Peaks is known as Wilts Col. To the gully right is a great firm Class 2 rock rib that avoids all the snow nicely and is fun. First stop the Echos #2 and #1, both accessed by a Class 2 East Face to the gap between them. While Echo #1 is an easy Class 2 continuation, Echo #2's North Ridge was a crazy knife edge!

Scramblers take note: a fine day---North ridge to north peak of Cathedral, Echo Ridge Summit 11,168 (via west ridge) from Wilts Col and then Echo #1 from the col! Return the Budd Lake or JM Trails.

Onto Echo #6, a small one between the 1,2,3,4 Massif and Echos #5,7,8.
It had a real awkward steep bulge 30 feet up that took care to descend. Echo#5 next through that shallow solid gully I bailed on due to ice a week prior.
Finally Echo #7, a fine short knife edge move on the NE Ridge. In the constant 30 mile per hour ridgetop winds it was freaky. In fact I could not stand on a single summit for fear getting blown off for real! Sitting would have to suffice. The Class 2 rock rib next to the col gully took me back to the car and another warming fire in Porcupine Flat.

Sunday, another potentially great high country travel idea. A traverse of Tuolumne Peak 10,845' with Mount Hoffmann 10,850' from May Lake. Note: both are easy Class 2 just to the sides of the harder scrambles I wanted to investigate.
All I can say is, I love it here! From the 1.5 miles to May Lake I ventured on easy slabs crosscountry, northwest, to the saddle just south of Tuolumne Peak. Here I got the first look at its South Face. Class 3, if steep, I hoped? The upshot: I went up the face, on water polished rock in a shallow chimney like depression center left of face. Easier to the right. I thought my route had a Class 4 move or two, especially gaining the exposed knife edge summit crest, but a nice Class 3 route exists up the main water polished channel to the climbers right of my face. It kept my attention and I got a bit scared at the thought of having to downclimb the whole thing if I got cliffed out. But I made it....

Now for the fun high country frolic, with one easy obvious class 2 descent off the crest proper to avoid a knife edge portion of the ridgeline. Now the NE Buttress of Hoffmann was in full view. Could it go Class 3 or doable (for me) Class 4?????
It was beautiful and pure, but I came to a place where it steepened in a friction face with blankness on either side. I searched both sides in exposed vertical land. On the east side were cracks and chimneys I simply was not willing to try and get stranded, unwanting to downclimb. Tail between my legs and a bit disappointed in myself, a series of ledges got me across and onto the Class 2 blocks of the NE slope.
Up on top I went, happily surprised to discover a user trail for my descent that led down the plateau from the Class 2 summit block.
The trail brought me easily back to May Lake for a perfect loop finish to a nice traverse!

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The Other Tom
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Re: Yosemite Redux, High Country Gems Sept 28-30, 2013

Post by The Other Tom » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:47 am

Welcome to HST ! What a great first post. Thanks

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