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2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Bob Burd » Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:39 am

Day 4 - Waller Minaret

Things got significantly tougher today. The northernmost of the Minarets, Waller's easiest route is class 5.2, though the route description is rather confusing in Secor's book. We started from Agnews Meadow, using the Shadow Lake Trail to Ediza Lake. Six of us made it to Ediza in under 2hrs, then another 1.5hrs to the crest at a pass just south of Ritter Pass and just north of Waller Minaret. Interestingly, this quite useable pass is not mentioned in Secor and offers a much easier route to Waller than the suggested Ritter Pass. There was more than a mile of snow on the northeast side of the crest starting about halfway up from Ediza. It was moderately suncupped and quite good for cramponing in the early morning. It was a collective effort to find a useable route to Waller's summit via the West Face/West Ridge routes that we tried to follow. The last hundred yards follows the crest over an impressive array of exposed blocks, mostly class 3 with a bit of class 4 and much exposure off two sides. The summit register was placed by the SRC in the 1990's and there were only a handful of entries since 1994. Interestingly, Doug Mantle had been up there twice. More interestingly, the register had actual signatures from Jules Eichorn and Ted Waller, the first ascentionists, that were collected from them before the register was placed.

Aside from those six, we had about seven other participants that went to Volcanic Ridge, Clyde Minaret, or just out for a stroll to Ritter Pass or around the loop (Shadow Lake Trail - Minaret Trail).

Michael G. maintains the yellow jersey lead by a slim 15minute margin. Tom G. holds the King of the Mountain (polka dot) jersey with 9 summits in 4 days. We have no participants under 25 signed up this year, so the White jersey is unclaimed. If any youngsters want to show up for a day next weekend, the jersey is theirs' for the taking. :-)

Tomorrow we're heading to North Lake and Piute Pass for an ascent of Matthes Peak on the Glacier Divide. More snow and crampon/axe work is expected.

stat sheet
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby seano » Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:06 am

Just in case anyone is interested and does not already know, I'll be putting up some text and photos at http://drdirtbag.wordpress.com/category/sierra-challenge/.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Bob Burd » Wed Aug 17, 2011 4:37 am

Day 5 - Matthes Peak

Today's goal is the second highest point along the Glacier Divide, on the northern border of SEKI NP. Our route from North Lake over Piute Pass entailed 22 miles and more than 5,000ft of gain. The peak looks quite nice from Humphreys Basin:
Image
(view from Packsaddle Lake)

We took the left side snow slope because it looked more fun than the easier snowfield to the right. Sean's about halfway up the slope in the photo below:
Image

Once at the top of the couloir it was a relatively straightforward class 2 scramble to the summit. Fine views looking south to Evolution Valley, the Goddard Divide and the LeConte Divide. Also nice views north into Humphreys Basin and the surrounding peaks. The oldest register paper was from Smatko, Shuler, Yates and Ross:
Image

In all we had six on the summit (Sean, Bob, Tom G, Michael, Adam, JD), though no more than two at any one time. I had gotten there ahead of Michael and thought I might have an opportunity gain back some time I'd lost on him. So I bolted off the summit down the West Ridge following Sean who paced me back over Piute Pass at a good clip. I thought I was gaining more than an hour on Michael, but in the end I was only 15 minutes ahead of him, leaving us tied for the yellow jersey once again.

Others went to Checkered Demon, Wahoo Peak, and possible Humphreys. Not all have reported back yet...

Tomorrow we're heading for Mt. Tom Ross (who was in the first ascent party of Matthes Peak, incidently) via Lamarck Col.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Bob Burd » Thu Aug 18, 2011 12:21 am

Day 5 - Mt. Tom Ross

Tom Ross is located on the Sierra crest roughly halfway between Lamarck Col and Mt. Darwin. The distance to get there is not all that much, about 6 miles, but the gain exceeds 5,000ft and the traverse from Lamarck Col has a good deal of excellent class 3 scrambling.

With about 15 participants at the 6am start at North Lake, we made good time to Lamarck Col. Sean went over in something just over 2hrs while the saner, but still fastest group was about 2hr30min. Over the next several hours we had a total of 12 reach the 13,200-foot summit. Sean seems to have blown right by Tom Ross on his way to Darwin for a Darwin/Mendel effort, last seen traversing the snow field on the North Face of Darwin (sans crampons/axe) and heading for the rock to the right of the snow field. Adam also took off for Darwin via the NE Ridge/East Face, RIght Side after summiting Tom Ross. Less ambitious participants (myself included) added Mt. Lamarck for a bonus peak before heading back to North Lake.

The weather continues to be delightful with just a few high clouds in the sky. Mosquitoes today were quiet - I saw only a handful the whole day and most of those were back at the TH.

Many of the snow fields are in excellent condition for August (unless you are looking for ice), the North Face of Darwin looked to be a fine snow climb at the moment.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Bob Burd » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:36 am

Day 7 - Round Mountain

Round Mtn is an obscure peak prominent above US395 between Bishop and Big Pine, far off the Sierra Crest. It is outside the John Muir Wilderness in the Inyo NF and has jeep road access almost to the summit via Coyote Creek Rd out of Bishop. Our starting point out of Glacier Lodge on Big Pine Creek uses a little-used trail up from the pack station to Coyote Flat and onto the summit of Round Mtn, about 8mi one-way and 5,000ft of gain.

There were only four participants at the TH this morning heading to Round Mtn, Michael, Tom G, Jeff, and myself. Others were scattered about other THs heading to more popular peaks. Tom B and Ephrat headed to Winchell, Sean and Adam to Thunderbolt, Karl and possibly others to Sky Haven. Bill P drove some two hours up Coyote Creek Rd, about two hours hiking distance to Round Mtn. His plan involved a long day around Coyote Flat to tag Round, Sugarloaf, Sky Haven, Cloudripper, Vagabond and the Hunchback, some 23mi and 8,000ft of gain. Evan planned to ride his bike from near the pack station at South Lake to the summit of Round Mtn, making the first bike summit during a Challenge.

The four of us starting from Glacier Lodge made good times heading to Coyote Flat, reaching it in about 2.5hrs. During the hike up out of the canyon we were treated to panoramic views of the Palisades, particularly the stretch between The Thumb and Norman Clyde Peak. Tom G and Jeff headed directly for Round Mtn while Michael and I first made a side trip to the nearer Sugarloaf for a bonus peak. Though mostly a pile of rock and talus, it had sweeping views of not only the Palisades, but a long stretch of the Owens Valley and the Inyo Mtns to the east. The oldest page in the register was a 1947 entry by Chester Versteeg. Michael and I then joined the other two at Round Mtn where they were relaxing with a large area map, identifying the array of Sierra peaks visible from the summit, from Split Mtn to the south to Mt. Tom to the north. There were several benchmarks at Round Mtn, but no register that we could find. Bill P had arrived an hour earlier and was on his way to Sugarloaf, though Michael and I never saw him in traversing the opposite direction.

On our way back down from Round Mtn we came across Evan on his bike about 600ft below the summit. He ended up stashing his bike and hiking the remaining distance to the summit. We also Bill descending off Sugarloaf as we passed by that peak on the west side, though we didn't get close enough to speak to him. Three of us made excellent time on the return, getting back to Glacier Lodge in just over 7hrs.Tom G was heading to Sugarloaf when we left him at the summit of Round.

Adam and Sean returned from Thunderbolt in about 11hrs, having used a rope to lasso the summit block and climb it from the lower block immediately to the north with a step-across. They reported some snow in the SW Chute #1, but didn't use crampons/axe.

We have five folks who've climbed 7 Challenge Peaks so far. Tom G has the most peaks total with 16, though Bill P is aiming to possibly best that today.

Tomorrow we're heading to Buck Mtn and Mt. Alice - described by Secor as the first and second largest piles of talus and sand in the Sierra.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby El Cuervo » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:59 am

"The oldest page in the reg. was a 1947 entry by Chester V."

Another trophy for Bob.

Another trophy soon for the bastards stealing them.

Now that the Black K. reg. is gone, is it not possible for you to celebrate your triumphs away from Google?
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Bob Burd » Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:35 am

El Cuervo wrote:"The oldest page in the reg. was a 1947 entry by Chester V."

Another trophy for Bob.

Another trophy soon for the bastards stealing them.

Now that the Black K. reg. is gone, is it not possible for you to celebrate your triumphs away from Google?


If you think the registers are being taken as trophies, I believe you are greatly mistaken. There is a contingent of outdoor enthusiasts who take a strong interpretation of the definition of Wilderness and think summit registers are nothing more than trash, and perhaps worse than that since it "destroys" their summit experience in some way. They are not going after specific registers, simply removing those they find on summits they visit. Newer registers are being removed as well as the old, they make no distinction. If you want to believe that my postings are contributing to their demise, that's your perogative.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby mrchad9 » Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:50 am

Bob Burd wrote:
El Cuervo wrote:"The oldest page in the reg. was a 1947 entry by Chester V."

Another trophy for Bob.

Another trophy soon for the bastards stealing them.

Now that the Black K. reg. is gone, is it not possible for you to celebrate your triumphs away from Google?


If you think the registers are being taken as trophies, I believe you are greatly mistaken. There is a contingent of outdoor enthusiasts who take a strong interpretation of the definition of Wilderness and think summit registers are nothing more than trash, and perhaps worse than that since it "destroys" their summit experience in some way. They are not going after specific registers, simply removing those they find on summits they visit. Newer registers are being removed as well as the old, they make no distinction. If you want to believe that my postings are contributing to their demise, that's your perogative.

Interesting... I had not considered that POV. I assumed that older ones must be targeted. But true that new ones are taken even more frequently.

Seems like a valid point.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Marmaduke » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:11 am

I don't know how long ago this last happen but for quite awhile the Sierra Club had taken the old registers to put in their museum. Year and years ago there was a fire in the SF museum and the registers were all lost.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Vitaliy M. » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:02 am

Let's not make SC thread into Summit registers thread...I think Bob should continue to post up what he feels like. It is interesting stuff, enjoy it.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Marmaduke » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:41 am

Agreed!!!
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Bob Burd » Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:02 pm

Day 8 - Buck Mtn

Buck Mtn (Peak 3914m on the USGS topo) is the unofficially named summit in the Big Pine area, one of the highest points between the North and South Fork drainages. It was first ascended by Norman Clyde in 1925. Rising more than 1,200ft above Mt. Alice which lies immediately in front of it, the two peaks have been described in previous editions of Secor as the first and second largest piles of rubble in the entire Sierra. It may not have been an exaggeration.

We had somewhere around 15 folks at the start at Glacier Lodge this morning, though four or five were heading to Temple Crag instead of joining in the slog-fest. In hiking to Round Mtn the previous day I paid particular attention to the visible facets of Alice and Buck, looking for less sloggy routes. The East Ridge of Buck seemed the best alternative that I could see and I tried to steer the others in that direction in the morning. Either I wasn't loud enough or they weren't listening, because when we'd done the 1-mile section of the South Fork Trail and started up cross-country, only Michael D headed with me to the East Ridge. The others took the right side of the drainage leading to Mt. Alice and we never saw anyone again for more than three hours.

From the trail, the summit of Buck Mtn is 4,500ft up in about 1.6mi, which makes for a very steep route. The first 2,000ft were nothing to get excited about and were more to be endured than enjoyed. But once we settled on the ridge proper, the views to the Palisades opened up and the scrambling was quite good, excellent even. We topped out on the summit of Buck around 10am, finding no one along the way or at the top. There was no register to see if anyone had been there before us. Some twenty minutes later Michael G came up solo over the ridgeline connecting Buck to Alice. Sean was the only one of the group he reported ahead of him, and we guessed Sean was already at Temple Crag or on his way to Gayley or North Pal or possibly the Grand Teton, for all we knew. Michael reported a miserable slog to Alice as did the others later.

Shortly thereafter I started back down to tag Alice on my way back. I came across some of the others (Ron, Jeff, William) on their way up to Buck, but a number of the others got by me without notice. The route from Alice to Buck is horribly sandy and slow if one is going up, delightful boot skiing if heading down. I did my best not to gloat when I met the others. It was similarly quick descending Alice down the SE side, long stretches of sand mixed with tough desert scrub that had to be zig-zagged through or plowing over the top. It looked like it would have been an awful mess going up.

I got back to the TH shortly after noon, the shortest Challenge day on record, I believe, less than seven miles total distance. Having already been to Alice when I met him on the summit, Michael G had beaten me back by some 25 minutes to take the yellow jersey lead. Rats. I will have to do better tomorrow. We're heading up the Birch Lake Trail for a climb of Ed Lane Peak (between Bolton Brown and The Thumb on the Sierra Crest).

My camera developed technical difficulties and became unusable a few days ago, so I'm afraid I'll be unable to post any more pics. Perhaps some other participants can do so for our mutual visual entertainment.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby Bob Burd » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:38 am

Day 9 - Ed Lane Peak

This unofficially named summit lies on the Sierra Crest between Bolton Brown and The Thumb, just west of Birch Mtn. At over 13,500ft, it is the highest summit on this year's Challenge, and combined with the lowest starting point makes for about 7,300ft of gain over 8 miles.

We had more than a dozen folks at the Birch Lake TH at 6am and within a short time had broken up into three smaller groups, each trying to find the trail. As it turns out, that is the crux for the day, no easy task. The area has some nice meadows and consequently some nice cattle that have made dozens of tracks in the area that are all as unmarked as the actual trail and equally indistinguishable. After roaming up the hillsides for more than a mile, we all eventually converged on the trail proper and made our way up the steep path.

It took about 3hrs to cover the 6 miles to Birch Lake where the trail ends. A combination of boulders, snow, talus/sand, and debris-covered ledges led higher to the bowl between Ed Lane and The Thumb. About half a dozen folks had gathered on The Thumb shortly after 11am. I took off for Ed Lane after we consumed the Epic IPA's that Laura had left on the summit for us a few weeks earlier. The high altitude and chilly nights had kept them quite cold.

The North Ridge of Ed Lane turned out to be a very enjoyable class 3 scramble staying mostly on the crest, though one could drop down on the west side to keep things class 2, if preferred. I found Jeff and Ron on the summit of Ed Lane when I arrived around 1pm. Sean by this time had been to the Thumb, Ed Lane, and was on his way to Birch Mtn for the trifecta. I left the summit with Ron and Jeff to head back down the ridge, passing by Mark, Adam and Tom G who were on their way up.

On my way back to the TH I came across a number of the other participants. Liz was napping on a rock above Birch Lake, waiting for JD to come back down from The Thumb. Luca and Ephrat were traversing the snow fields around the lake, and others were on their way back down the trail below the lake.

Sean later reported running into Rick Kent at the notch between Birch Mtn and Ed Lane, on his way to Ed Lane. That was the only sighting, however.

Michael G developed shin splints a few days ago and found them too painful to continue today, so he drove home instead, forfeiting the yellow jersey after a strong 8 days. The only real competition left is for the King of the Mountain jersey, Bill P is still trying to catch up to Tom G for that honor (Tom has 21 peaks after 9 days).

Tomorrow we head to Whitney Portal for a climb of the Miter. Should be a lot of fun for the concluding day...
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby atavist » Mon Aug 22, 2011 9:58 pm

Thanks to Bob for another great SC. I only got up one Challenge peak but ascended about 3500' of technical granite and thoroughly enjoyed being back in the High Sierra.
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Re: 2011 Sierra Challenge - Aug 12-21

Postby MisterT » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:16 am

Thanks Bob for putting this all together, plus the much needed shower. Someday I'll get all the pictures organized and put together a trip report. I finished the 2011 Sierra Challenge at midnight last night after an 18 hour push to stay ahead of Bill for the polka dot jersey - I didn't always make the best route decisions and that cost me. Still many spectacular trips into a spectacular range.
Thanks also to Laura for the Whitney permits.

--=Tom G

here is the crew on Tom Ross on day 6

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