My dogs and I set off from Mono Village with dreams of far off Tower Peak filling my head. I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the trail to Barney and Peeler Lakes. Very easy compared to other routes in the area, I expected the trail to be more boring than it was. Upon reaching the Yosemite border at Peeler Lake and finally seeing people, I stayed legal by venturing upslope and x-country to Buckeye Pass. Center Mountain had been a known option and it was strongly beckoning. I headed up the south facing drainage and southeast facing slope to the ridge and headed north to quickly gain the summit. The views were outstanding despite a cold wind blowing clouds overhead and enshrouding the tip of Tower's summit. In fact, the views and wind were enough to keep me planted in an alcove of rock just below the summit for nearly two hours as I grazed on food, checked maps, and snapped photos. I lost my motivation to head to Tower in clouds with tired dogs in tow and now a little short on time. However, I gained a visual memory for the route options in that area and may out and back or shuttle hike Tower in September or next summer. I opted not to visit Hawksbeak, Ehrnbeck, or Grouse, all easily within reach and headed back to Buckeye Pass the way I had come up. BUT, then heading upslope to skirt the Yosemite border with dogs, I was enchanted by the easy granite scrambles heading northeastward up toward Cirque Peak. Closer to the summit, the route became tedious sand and pine whacking as we headed east steeply, suffering up the west slope of Cirque Mountain. The views atop the higher southeast summit were nice and a way down through the house and truck size glacial boulders seemed possible. With dogs it became very sketchy and I wasted over an hour before eventually reaching an easier and safer way down the southwest facing drainage to Robinson Creek below the east end of Peeler Lake. Being on trail again was a relief, but even that became slow going as it got dark beyond Barney Lake. Nevertheless, I was successful at wearing out my dogs and scouting Tower Peak routes.
An enjoyable loop around the area tagging a handful of summits. Trip Report.
First summit of the day on a 35+ mile dayhike that included 4 peaks. See this trip report for the rest of the story...
This was a quick and easy, but fun climb. The Class 3 sections on the lower part of the route were very enjoyable. Some great views at sunset! Tagged Hawksbeak earlier in the day.