Did not summit. :-( Got as far as just below the water marks and made a very hard decision to turn back. I was extremly exhausted from the long hike in the day before. Wish I had planned a rest day. This is a tough mountain! The approach is enough to wear you out. My buddy, forjan, did make the summit and then came back to camp and 2 hours later climbed Tyndall. My hat is off to him. I guess I just bit off more than I could chew this time.
I climbed Williamson around July 4th, just before the Bighorn Sheep closure last summer. I made my base camp down at Anvil Lake (mosquitoe hell hole) so it was a long hike to start the climb. The climb was wonderful and I met a very fast well conditioned climber from SLO on the way up. A tropical weather system from the south was sweeping up through central CA, making for some tremendous lightning and hail while I was on top. When I heard a buzzing in my shoulder on the summit, I dove into a rock cave to let the squall pass. Coming down the class 3 chute there was 2-3 inches of hail on the holds. It was a religous experience
The approach to the actual climb is the most tiring part of the whole climb. However, when we finally arrived at the base of Williamson and started climbing, the nasty approach seemed worth it.
The snow was in perfect shape for going up the colouir, and we made good time. After the colouir, there was some 3rd class, a short ridge, and finally the summit.
The weather gods were with us that day...there was not a cloud in the sky, and we could see several of the other 14'ers from the top.
This is definetely a climb worth doing if you don't mind long approach hikes.
It really is too bad that Williamson is a little lower than Whitney, 'cause it sure is a bigger and badder mtn (and approach). Conditions were great in the coulior, I highly recommend climbing when it's full of snow, for an easier ascent, and a much speedier glissade descent. Icy climbing getting out of the coulior, and a couple wierd (for 3rd class) moves, and we were just below the summit. Next time, we'll try a ridge that summits the East Horn.
A good varied climb! Starting with loose scree down low, then a nice snow chute in the middle section, & finally, a short easy chimney section near the top, to round it out. I wanted to make sure I did both of these mountains in one go, for two reasons: #1- the short time frame you have due to the bighorn sheep. & #2- I didn't really want to come back over Shepherd Pass again!
This was the thirteenth summit of my CA 14er speed climbing tour! Check out the trip report here.
I solo from Anvil Camp. Left at 10:30am, leaving my girlfriend behind, and arrived at the summit at 2:30pm. (4hrs) On the class 3 sections ran into some other climbers so I went around. No problem with the snow. I was probably the last climber that day and for the season that would be legally their. Very sunny and warm. Descended to the bowl and climbed Tyndall. Back in camp to a warm cooked meal waiting for me. Ha!
Summited at 10AM, on Friday, July 13th with James Kolter after a 4 hour climb from the 2nd lake at Sherpherd's Pass -we spent 1/2 hour on the summit. 14er #5 for me. It was my second attempt (we were turned back in 2000), and it was James' 4th attempt - two early season attempts up George Creek, as well as one from Shepherd's Pass. No wind, sunny - perfect conditions.
Neither of us are rock climbers and we had no problems in the chute or the chimney at the top of the chute. Because their was still snow in the chute, we had to do some 3rd class moves to the right of the snow to make it up the chute. A pair of in-step crampons would have solved that problem. The biggest concern was what the chimney would be like. I was prepared to turn back if it was too sketchy (I am married with two children!!), but I basically followed the advice of a trip report I read - to wedge myself between the rocks and to climb UNDER the chokestone 1/2 way up the 3rd class section. James didn't climb under it and felt comfortable. This section is short and I never felt uncomfortable whatsoever, although the pictures in the books and the pictures we took can give the impression that one would want to use a rope and harness. I would say that the most critical factor is the level of a person's fatigue when reaching the top of the LOOOONG climb up the chute - the chimney would be sketchy if one was extremely fatigued.
It was a spectacular summit - all 14er's were in view except Mt. Muir (behind Whitney) and of course Mt. Shasta. One can see how easy it would be to summit from the George Creek route if it was allowed for more than two months of the year.
The climb out of the Williamson Bowl was the worst part of the entire climb. We reached our camp at 1:30PM.
Hiked all the way out the same day - left at 2:30PM and reached the trailhead just before 6:30PM - I recommend that people camp another night - I threw up 3 times just before the Symnes Saddle!! (Felt great afterwards though).
By the way, everything people say about mosqitoes at Anvil Camp is completely true!!! I don't recommend it - hike another hour to Pothole and camp there instead.
I know it has been said many times before, but Mt. Williamson's approach is the longest, and hardest I've ever attempted.