Mt. Sill in a day?

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Trip Report
California, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Aug 15, 2009
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Mt. Sill in a day?
Created On: Aug 17, 2009
Last Edited On: Aug 17, 2009

Do not do this......

Perpetually frustrated with all the red tape associated with California backcountry, I decided to day hike Mt. Sill from the trailhead near Big Pine Creek campground. Even though I made my first 14'r summit, all but the first four hours of my fifteen hour misadventure were enjoyable. Detailed below are some amateur mistakes I made along the way:

I packed too much clothing.

When I awoke at 5:30 a.m. it was a bit chilly outside, maybe low 50's. So, I figured if it was cold at below 8,000', it must be absolutely freezing at 14k. What comes to mind when you think glacier? I do not think shorts, t-shirt and extremely burnt extremities, but that's what I ended up with. It must have been 75oF on the North Couloir, and I must have had seven pounds of clothing in my summit pack.

I misjudged distances.

After Sam Mack Meadow the dashed, red line on my map runs out, along with the extremely convenient milage calculations. It is a really long ways, and slow going, with over a mile of scrambling over a giant moraine with Volkswagen-sized boulders, which creek and sway underneath you. From the top of the moraine, Mt. Sill looks a quarter of a mile away, which is motivating, but extremely deceptive. Even from the U-notch the summit looked a stone's throw away. Even worse, from the top of the North Couloir I estimated fifteen minutes to the summit; big mistake.

I relied on a trip report.

Having reached the summit, I dreaded the thought of crossing the bouldered moraine again. I read a trip report about climbing Mt. Sill from the South Fork, in which the author described the route as an unmaintained trail. I suppose a carin in the middle of a hundred acre boulder field could be considered an unmaintained trail, but it was definitely not what I was expecting. The most tedious, frustrating and nightmarish decent I've ever made.

I tried to do too much.

While it was rewarding in finding my physical limits, and was a valuable learning experience, I put myself in unnecessary danger;
I should not have done it solo; a slip on the class 4 section from the Apex summit to the top is death.
I should have done it like everyone else, camped at the meadow, got up early, made the summit when the snow wasn't complete slush, and hiked out the next day.
I should have worn a helmet.
I should have put sunscreen on my arms and legs.
I should have went back the way I came, so I knew what to expect.
I shouldn't have packed so much clothing; I was sweating all day.
I shouldn't have relied on a trip report.

PLANNING+PERMITS+RESERVATIONS+QUOTAS+FEES+GOLDEN EAGLES+RV'S+CLIMBING PARTNER SOLICITATIONS+HUNTERS+OHV'S. Maybe the fifteen hours of purgatory was worth it; definitely better than staying home.


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