I hadn't heard of Mt. Williamson and Mt. Tyndall until my friend, Darryl, invited me on a trip to climb them. We camped at the Pothole the first night, climbed Williamson the second day, and climbed Tyndall the third day. I also climbed Mt. Keith that day. We hiked out on the fourth day. That was twenty years ago, and I've been back several times since.
In July 1990, I headed back up to climb Williamson and Tyndall in a single day. I started at 3:30 AM and staggered out at 10:30 PM, victorious, but trashed, and with one toenail no longer attached to anything.
A few years later, I got the bug to climb California's 14ers in the winter. My first Williamson/Tyndall attempt was in December 1994. I ended up soloing the north rib on Tyndall on New Year's Eve while my partner stayed at Anvil Camp because of mild AMS. That was the day I decided he wouldn't be a good partner for Denali.
A year later, right after Christmas, I attempted Williamson via George Creek. I had heard (and believed) horror stories about the bushwhack, but it was worse than I ever imagined. I had enough food and fuel for four days, but I had told my wife and my boss that I would be back in three. I ran out of time and had to give up at 11,300.
I was back for another Williamson Attempt on President's Day weekend (1996). My partner and I camped at Anvil Camp the first night. We summitted at 4:30 PM the next day, just as it started to snow. We had 6" when we got back to camp, and 12" the next morning.
I finished my winter 14er project and sort of drifted away from climbing. My aging parents needed assistance, we build a new house where we could keep our horses, and I discovered marathon running. Well, things changed again. After living long and fulfilling lives, my parents are gone. The house is complete, and I had to give up running because of an Achilles injury. The injury doesn't interfere with cycling, but I have to be careful when I hike or climb.
As I approached my 60th birthday (February 2009), I was thinking about projects and goals for the year. I decided to re-climb the California 14ers, plus Norman Clyde Pk. and Mt. Humphreys. I wondered whether I could still do Williamson and Tyndall in a single day, as I had done 19 years earlier. I decided to go for it, and set July 7 as the day.
I drove to the trailhead on Monday afternoon. The road was much better than I remembered. I hiked up the trail to check out the four stream crossings. I hadn't been there since 1996, and I didn't want to start a trip like this by getting lost or soaked in the dark. Then I ate a lot of spaghetti and went to bed. It was really hot, and then the wind rocked the camper for a few hours. Then it was time to get ready to go.
I hit the trail right at 3:00 AM. At 3:09, I stopped and yelled at myself: "You f*****g moron!" I had left my jacket in the camper! I hiked back down the trail to get my jacket. I started up for the second time at 3:17. Fortunately, the forgotten jacket was the only thing that went wrong the entire day.
I just marched up the trail until I got to Shepherd Pass. The steep section below the pass wasn't as long as I had remembered, but the trail was in terrible condition. It's mostly loose scree where there used to be a decent trail. That steep, loose, crap is really hard on my Achilles tendon, and I had to be very careful. The snow at the top of the pass was easy to cross with trail runners. It was 8:58.
I hiked over to Williamson bowl and dropped down to the first lake. I filtered some water, ate some food, put on hiking boots, and headed for Williamson with three climbers who had camped at the lake.
It was 10:30 when I was below the black water stains, 2,000 feet from the summit. I decided to try to make it before noon. I spent the next 1:29 at about 95% of my maximum cardio output, and summitted at 11:59 AM! After a short break, I started back down. The snow in the chute was a moderate obstacle going both up and down, since I didn't bring crampons or ice axe.
I made it back to the lake and retrieved some stuff I has stashed there. I hadn't seen the other climbers since 10:30, and I couldn't figure where they went. I headed up out of the bowl and really paid the price for climbing so hard on Williamson. I thought about blowing off Tyndall, but it is hard to pass up when you're that close.
I went up the north rib, reaching the summit at 4:02. I was still paying for pushing so hard on Williamson. I climbed back down the rib. There was a fair amount of snow near the route, but it was easy to bypass it. The detour up Tyndall had taken 2:20.
By the time I got to Shepherd Pass, it was 5:30, and the snow was icing up. It was a little dicey crossing the snow. I started feeling stronger, and made good time to Anvil Camp. I stopped to eat, filter some water, and change back into trail runners. After a 30-minute break, I headed back down the trail at 6:45.
The trip down the trail was as uneventful as the trip in. When I got to Mahogany Flats, I figured it was about time to get out the headlamp. My eyes adjusted as it got darker, and I could feel where the trail went when I couldn't see it. I made a game out of seeing how far I could go without the headlamp. I didn't get it out until I hit the first stream crossing at 9:30 PM! I got back to the camper at 9:56 PM.
Total time, car to car, was 18:39. That's 21 minutes faster than when I did the same climb 19 years ago. It feels really good to be able to do that at age 60!
Congrats on your return summit of Williamson and Tyndall in a day!
We ended up going the wrong way and on top of Trojan Peak!
The next day, we gave it another go and did find our way to the top of Williamson. I got to sign the log book just beneath your signature! Unfortunately, we did not make it to Tyndall, so I'm headed back in a few weeks to bag it!
Bob, i have sat down to sign two registers in the last year, Middle Pal last August and Muir last month, only to see your signature as the most recent entry. (No one had signed Muir since you did it last Oct!) i am please to ride on your coat-tails and happy that you are still setting and reaching goals at 60. i will be there in 4 years and hope that i will be doing the same. regards and climb on! norma r