Winter camp at about 6,000 feet, just west of the ridge crest, probably almost due west of Sourdough Lake. McMillan Spires, in the Southern Picketts, are on the skyline, left of center. Elephant Butte
is on the right. Sourdough Ridge and Elephant are one of the access routes to the Picketts. It's a long trek, but at least you have a trail until you're above the brush.
We had a 3-day weekend; our plan was to climb Elephant from here the second day, then hike out the third. The first night, the temperature dropped to -20 F (-29 C). Most of the guys slept with their heads deep inside their bags, dampening the down and making the bags colder. We didn't stick around to find out about the second night.
On Winter ascents, follow the trail as far as 4,400 feet. At that point the trail leaves the ridge crest and heads E into the Sourdough Creek valley. Avalanches in that gully have gone so far as to destroy cabins on the shore of Diablo Lake. From 4,400 feet, go straight up the ridge crest.
Photo taken December 30, 1978.