So my girlfriend and I decided to climb matterhorn peak in the hoover wilderness just north of Yosemite outside of Bridgeport, CA. We were planning on doing the East Couloir but didn't make it to the summit.
We started driving right after work on Friday night and got to our campsite (crags campground) near twin lakes at around 11 pm. We slept until about 8 on saturday, and left for mono village to park and start up the trail.
We starting hiking around 11 am, after paying $10 freakin' dollars to leave our car in mono village (an RV town) overnight.
We took the horse creek trail (which is extremely straightforward for the first 2 miles or so). You have to go over 2 small log bridges before you start the switchbacks.
The hiking started off really easy, following gentle switchbacks (9 to be exact) up a steep hillside through dense trees and the occasional creek. It was very pleasant to walk by the creek.
After about 2 miles or so.. the trail levels out into a valley and you get your first glimpse of the mountain. After continuing on relative flat for about a quarter mile (and continuing on horse creek trail).. we came to the first patches of snow where the trail was lost. Now some bushwhacking to stay by the creek. We managed to make good time through the dense thicket until we got to a large boulder field and the first snow field. After scrambling around we made it through the boulders.. crossing the snow field to reach another set of boulders. We left a few cairns to help us make our way back down the next day. Once we reached the large snow field, we decided to follow the steep snow up towards the saddle and then continue up the ridge to find a campsite. THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO GO..
We should have gone up the steep gully right onto the ridge. Our mistake cost us about 2-3 hours of route-finding, backtracking, scrambling and cursing our way to camp. We had to go AROUND a rock face that we should have avoided in the first place. After a while we finally reached camp at about 6 pm. That's 7 hours of hiking!! We are both in great shape and move very quickly.. but we just went the long way. By the time we got to camp we were so pooped from the rigors of the hike up that we only wanted to eat and go to sleep. The altitude got the best of me.. sleeping at 10,500 ft is not easy when your coming from 60 ft (Davis).. WHen we woke up at 4:30 am to climb the east couloir, we both looked at each other and said "screw that".. our bodies were so exhausted from the long hike up the day before that we just slept in and enjoyed the warm comfort of a tent in the sun.
We got going at around 9 am.. half pissed off that we didn't go for the summit and half happy at the decision we had made for the hike out would prove to be long and hard.
We started down at around 1030.. heading straight down the snow slope that we should have come up in the first place. THe down climbing proved nerve racking for my ashley.. who got unraveled by the steep down climbing on the snow (about 40 degrees or so). I had no problem plunge stepping my way down the 4-500 feet of snow. Once we made it to less steep ground we glissaded down the final snow slope.. cursing as snow filled our shorts and froze our crotches..
The hike out was uneventful, though we were both zonked by the time we got to the car. I think the "strenous" label of matterhorn peak is totally accurate.. just go the right way next time!!!