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2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
 

Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Daria » Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:59 pm

Bob Burd wrote:
Bob Burd wrote:Sean set off to do the Balcony to Disappointment to Middle Pal traverse. Haven't heard from him yet, but I'd expect something like 10-11hrs.



I stand corrected:

Balcony, Disappointment, Middle Pal in 8 hours even. The chute to Balcony sucked, and the last part of the traverse to Disappointment was a bit unnervingly loose, but the traverse to Middle Pal was awesome.


Awesome!!! One of the traverses I have been wanting to do!
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Re: Barrett Peak

Postby MonteWolfe » Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:52 pm

Fog.jpg
Fog.jpg (650.41 KiB) Viewed 873 times
Hail.jpg
Hail.jpg (747.5 KiB) Viewed 873 times
Postscript on Barrett weather. My friend Des and I started an hour later than others (shared a laugh later when his wristwatch's alarm went off at 4 pm), met a participant (only one we ever saw although heard several voices) around noon who said that it had been raining about 1 every day, watched it begin to rain precisely at 1, then turn to hail (parts of the hill looked skiable!), then to whiteout. Retreated at around 3 pm at around 13,800'. Rained/hailed for about 9 hours, mostly off and on, but 5 hours (3 pm to 8 pm) of which were continuous rain. My dad used to say "It never rains in the Southern Sierra in the summer." Hah! Crossed Thunderbolt Pass at 8, when it got dark (where 2 climbers milling around outside their tent asked where we were camped), so rest of return was by headlamp. Midnight at Bishop Pass; trailhead at 4 a.m. Briefly joked whether we should just drive to Glacier Lodge site for Big Kid. Never got really cold. Actually, a very nice time in the Sierra. :)
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Bob Burd » Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:23 am

Quick note: George Creek (Saturday) start has been moved up to 5am. Late signups didn't make the email list, so hopefully they'll see this or otherwise hear from someone else.
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Turtleggjp » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:10 am

These are day hikes, not a backpacking trip. Up in the mountains early in the morning, back in town with WiFi in the afternoon and evening.
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby KathyW » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:16 am

I don't know if anyone is going to drive up the road to Armstrong Canyon to do one of the loose piles of rubble like Perkins or Colosseum instead of Indian Rock tomorrow, but when I drove up there last year a Toyota Tacoma was able to get to about 8000' where there's a nice parking/camping spot. Not too far after that there was a boulder blocking the road. The road was in pretty good shape, but it's a really narrow road and if you can't make it to one of the very few pullouts and have to go back down, you'll have a horrible time backing down that road. I'd hate to meet another vehicle coming the other way. On my way down it was a lot more obvious how little space there was between the truck's tires and the edge of the road - at one spot I backed up and pulled in several times and then just hoped for the best before crossing it. A jeep would probably be the best thing to take up there.
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Turtleggjp » Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:22 am

Today's hike was to Vennacher Needle, which is 28 miles and 10,100 feet of elevation gain (and loss) in one day. You have to be in pretty darn good shape for that to be considered "not a challenge." Especially considering this is the 7th day in a row some of these people have been doing these hikes. Oh, and this year there has been some good rainstorms too. Still not challenging enough for you?
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Turtleggjp » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:01 am

You might want to read that again.

Turtleggjp wrote:28 miles and 10,100 feet of elevation gain (and loss) in one day.


That's 10,100 feet up, then 10,100 feet down (actually it's up-down-up, then down-up-down, don't feel like looking up the exact numbers right now).
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Bob Burd » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:11 am

Day 7 - Vennacher Needle

Vennacher Needle is a decidely unneedle-like peak on the divide between the South Fork of the Kings River and Lakes Basin, west of Cardinal Mtn and Split Mtn. The shortest approach is over Taboose Pass, involving a large number of miles and much elevation gain. The last time I had Taboose Pass on the menu of the Sierra Challenge I was the only one who showed up at 4am to hike to Marion Peak. This time we had ten. Not quite the twenty who had signed up, but much better than last time.

It was tough getting up at 2:30am for the 4am start, but once we were moving up the trail we were all glad for a few hours respite from the sun. It was warm at bottom and for the first hour, but it soon began to cool considerably and was very pleasant all the way to the pass. Sean went over first in under three hours, held back by Tom who was intentionally throttling our speedster until the first creek crossing. Pat and Tommey lead the mortals to the pass in just under 3h15m. After a short break, Pat headed up to Cardinal as did Phil and JD. Tommey, James, Tom, Jonathan and myself headed over the pass to drop to the Kings River. We lost Tommey shortly afterwards as he stopped to refill water. Down at the river Jonathan left us to head to Ruskin with the three remaining heading north up the JMT. James and Tom got ahead of me and missed the turnoff for Vennacher by a quarter mile or so. I continued on by myself, making an ascending traverse up the side of the canyon past several beautiful, unnamed lakes. When I caught sight of the others they were several hundred feet below, but all of us heading in the right direction. We summited in just over 6hrs and took a long 45min break at the top. There are fine views of the Palisades to the north, the crest between Split and Cardinal to the east, Lakes Basin to the west, and most of the peaks of the Southern High Sierra to the south. We briefly considered building a 4-foot cairn to make the peak 13,000ft, but none of us had the energy for anything more than just talking about it.

Meanwhile Tommey had wandered down to Kings River and ran into Jonathan, so he changed plans and joined Jonathan for the climb of Ruskin. Turned out to be a good plan because the East Ridge of Ruskin is better than anything we found on Vennacher.

As we headed down we met up with Michael about 100ft below the summit. Sometime after he left, Sean reached the summit traversing the crest from Ruskin. He reported it a fine class 4 adventure. Back at Taboose Pass, Tom, James and I took another break. Kevin came stolling up the west side of the pass about 15 minutes behind us. He reported having a brain-seizure moment, descending the Kings River rather than ascending it, getting somewhere near the base of Arrow Peak and then calling it a day. Oops.

Tomorrow we're heading up the Sawmill Pass Trail to tackle Indian Rock. We'll start at 5am to get a jump on the expected heat and afternoon thunderstorms that are expected to return to the area.
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Turtleggjp » Fri Aug 17, 2012 3:54 am

No rain again today? Darn! Er, I mean, good for you guys. We had some tropical clouds blowing through the LA area today, so they're probably heading your way! Good luck tomorrow guys (and gals)!
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby fedak » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:27 am

It was squalling as I drove down from Tioga Pass today, must have just been local
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Marmaduke » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:03 am

swirlingcolors wrote:How long did the trip take you?

Edit, ten thousand isn't to bad you know, get up it pretty quick if you keep trucking.



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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Marmaduke » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:43 am

10k of verticle, nope. but I wasn't the one throwing crap in this thread towards those doing the "challenge".
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Turtleggjp » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:22 am

fedak wrote:It was squalling as I drove down from Tioga Pass today, must have just been local


I was watching the NWS radar today, it looked like the rain was north of where they were hiking today. That seems to be confirmed by Bob's description of the day.
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Re: 2012 Sierra Challenge Aug 10-19

Postby Bob Burd » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:50 pm

Day 8 - Indian Rock

Indian Rock is a 12,200-foot feature on the long ridge descending from Mt. Baxter between the Baxter Creek and Sawmill Creek drainages. The easiest approach is up the Sawmill Pass Trail, about 20mi round trip with 8,000ft+ of gain. The trail has a reputation for being long (12mi to the pass) and hot (starting elevation: 4,500ft, the lowest of the Eastern Sierra THs). We found the trail far more pleasant than anticipated and enjoyed the outing a great deal.

We started at 5am in anticipation of heat and incoming weather. There were only seven (Kevin T, Sean, Pat, Michael, Jonathan, Tom, myself) at the start, attrition taking it's toll by the 8th day with plenty of no-shows. Phil started early at 3:30am to tackle Colosseum instead from the same TH. The weather cooperated far better than we might have hoped. It was mostly overcast at sunrise which gave us only bit of sun around 6:15am, then perhaps an hour or so later in the morning. The cloud cover kept things quite pleasant for the entire day, never raining more than a few drops in the early afternoon. The trail rises more than 2,500ft in the first three miles, all sand and desert and not all that pleasant going up. This was the part we did mostly by headlamp. The fourth mile descends gently into Sawmill Canyon where trees are first encountered. After the fourth mile the trail crosses a few creeks and stays in a very pleasant belt of forest for more than four miles. This section is extremely pleasant, far better than the narrow belt of trees encountered on the Taboose Pass Trail.

I made it to Sawmill Lake in about 4hrs with Jonathan. Sean and Pat were somewhere ahead, the others somewhere behind. While Jonathan stopped for a nature break and waited for the others, I headed up the rubble-strewn cirque south of the lake. It was a monstrous boulder climb up to the ridge, topping out some 200ft above the top of Indian Rock. One then downclimbs 400ft before the final 200ft of class 3 climbing on the West Face and SW Ridge of Indian Rock. From the high point on the ridge I spotted Sean and Pat just reaching the summit about 20 minutes ahead. They had found another route to the summit, climbing higher on the trail before cutting south towards the ridge.

It took me 5.5hrs to reach the summit. There is a fine view of the Owens Valley, and more peaks than one might have guessed for a lower summit east of the crest. Williamson and University dominate the view to the south, Mary Austin, Black and Diamond to the southwest (with Clarence King just poking up behind them), Baxter to the west, and north as far as Split Mtn. We found no register and left none. As I was descending Indian Rock with Pat and Sean, the other four started up, within a few minutes of each other. We went back down the Sean/Pat approach route, taking little more than an hour to reach Sawmill Lake - a better route than the one I had picked out.

The descent from Sawmill Lake was the most pleasant running trail we've seen in the Sierra. Nearly all of it was free of nasty rocks and small boulders, compact and smooth for the most part. Sean was back before 2pm, Pat and I about 20min behind him. The continued cloud cover kept the temperatures reasonable and the jogging descent a pleasure.

I really looking forward to tomorrow's romp up George Creek. Until last year, this route was closed for most of the year and all summer. There are a number of peaks that are all most easily approached via this route, including Williamson, Trojan, Barnard, Barnard East and Carl Heller. Should be great fun with a large crowd heading up this classic bushwhack by headlamp.
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