Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

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ElGreco

 
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Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by ElGreco » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:05 pm

Hi all,

I've noticed on the map that there could be an alternative to the North Fork trail. Just after the picnic area at around 8,300ft near the Portal, a smaller stream splits off to the right (N) and then curves towards the NW and eventually W. This seems like a gully or canyon by looking at the map, but I don't know what it looks like in real life, whether it's drowned in willows, too steep, too loose or whatever.

My intention is to head to Cleaver Col, so I am wondering whether one can take this path instead, avoid the North Fork quota and LBSL, pass the Ledges on the left and join the standard route that heads up towards the Cleaver at around 11,000ft. Here's an illustration of what I mean:
NForkAlternative.jpg
NForkAlternative.jpg (104.62 KiB) Viewed 3078 times

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jpsmyth

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by jpsmyth » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:36 pm

I took that route maybe 16 years ago so my experience could be completely irrelevant and out of date. I recall that it wasn't any easier, perhaps harder, than the normal north fork route. It certainly wasn't as interesting in that it avoids the ledges. It seemed that we gained altitude faster but had to break more brush. If there is any advantage, it would be avoiding the quota, but I doubt that it lets you avoid the quota.

One key difference is that where you intend to turn north, I continued to traverse west to get at the slope between Carillon and Russell. So your intended objective may make a difference as well.

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ElGreco

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by ElGreco » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:59 pm

Thank you both for the feedback. It's not that I want to avoid the classic route as such, but that this alternative could be more "lonely" than heading to LBSL and being on the Ledges if I fail to get an overnight North Fork permit...

3Deserts, thanks for the photos! My plan is to reconstruct Norman Clyde's trip and drop down to Tulainyo lake from the Col, spend the night there, climb the wall to the Russell-Carillon saddle in the morning, summit Russell via the E Ridge and descend the N Ridge back to Tulainyo. It would make me climb the Col wall twice, but who cares. An alternative would be to do what you did, and sleep on the S side of the Cleaver, scramble to Carillon from the Col, and continue from there. How was the scrambling there compared to Russell? Straightforward?

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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by jdmorris » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:03 pm

The proposed alternative definitely doesn't avoid the Whitney Zone so in theory you still need a N. Fork permit. Cleaver Col is a lousy, loose chute but it's quick and easy and I love the Cleaver drainage and the Tulainyo basin on the other side - going up and down it again is no big deal. I hiked over to the top of the drainage you've marked on your map after climbing up from LBSL just last week and looked down it but don't remember thinking it looked particularly good or bad. I'll see if I took any pictures [edit: nope, sorry]. Report back if you try the alternative bushwack!

Here's the zone, for reference:
Image
Last edited by jdmorris on Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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marmoting

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by marmoting » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:55 am

I hiked down that route probably about 5 years ago. It was something to try for solitude and variety, but I doubt I'll ever repeat it again. The lower section lacks any view and involves a lot of wandering around to find passages through thick brush. I enjoy accessing upper Carillon drainage via Lower Boyscout Lake much more.

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ElGreco

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by ElGreco » Tue Aug 09, 2011 8:48 pm

Thanks again everybody for your responses. I ended up taking that route down. The top half is fantastic: great views of the valley and the Portal, and soft sandy surface without much brush that makes for great boot skiing and a quick descent. The bottom half is a true painstaking bushwack, like a couple of you said. You slow down to almot a standstill, fighting your way through extremely dense vegetation on the stream bed. I will write a new descent route on the Cleaver page. Something novel, if you feel like being original or an outlaw. Definitely not an ascent route. For reasons which I explain below, the bushwacking was a welcome improvement for me at that stage though:

On the climb itself, I ended up going up the prominent gully on the SE ridge of Carillon instead of heading further N to Cleaver Col, which looked mild. It was mostly Class 3/4, but dirty and with some short 5.6/7 (?) sections. Stupid of me to solo that - a few sketchy moments, and at some point I almost came off, which would have sent me 15-20ft down for a hard landing. Don't quite know how I saved it, but I screamed "no" and somehow moved left to a good foot stance next to an offwidth crack with two chockstones (thank God for those). I love me a good hand crack, but I wasn't too confident on my chicken wings, arm cams and knee jams, so inspiration struck me and I pulled out my ice axe (which I almost left at home, and again at camp but took anyway) and hooked the chockstones, cranked a couple of moves and got myself out of the tangle and to the top of the gully and the mild, sandy slopes under the Russell-Carillon col shortly above. The stinking crux came at the very top of the gully, where going up seemed the best alternative to downclimbing hard 4th/low 5th terrain all the way down the gully without a rope and the option to rappell. Russell's E ridge was a breeze comparatively, but I was too shaken and spent to enjoy it by that point. I descended the N ridge - dirtier and trickier on the routefinding, but OK.

Then, I climbed Cleaver Col from Tulainyo lake, but without the knowledge of which gully to take down since I hadn't ascended it. It turns out I went down a different gully to the one mentioned on the SP page, further on skier's right. Very loose but ok until the bottom, where it cliffed out. After lots of left and right on ledges that connected to the next gully over, and determined not to commit to moves unless confident that I could pull them off safely, I could get myself to within 12ft of the milder slopes below, but could not figure out a way to downclimb the final ledge. In the end, what did it was taking off my pack, squeezing through a tunnel between large blocks, and seeing the sweet sight of a few easy moves separating me from the mild slopes below back to camp...

I think a couple of new route pages and a trip report are in order. People should learn from my stupidity, and I'd love some input or to hear of similar experiences - I can see many lessons here (ascending and descending different routes, trying new routes without any information on them, committing to routes and moves, lack of gear for pro/rapelling, soloing etc). Let's just say that the memory of me losing my feet and hanging from my fingertips on crappy holds for a couple of seconds with 15-20ft of air below me to a hard granite landing, alone in an obscure gully, will remain in my memory for a long time.

Peace, and be safe.
Last edited by ElGreco on Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mrchad9

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by mrchad9 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:10 pm

I am very confused by some of the comments here. I did Cleaver Col, for the ascent, last year and there was no bushwack at all. Where are folks encountering it? Regardless, it is 100% avoidable.

My trip had a short sandy portion, but was mostly reasonably solid ground, even some slabs, up to the lake NE of Carillon, then a short but no big deal loose chute after that.

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ElGreco

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by ElGreco » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:26 pm

The bushwack description is for the gully descent, N of the North Fork and the Ledges. Coming down from Cleaver Col, you go left at around 10,800ft instead of descending the way you probably went up. The back side of the E Ledges is on your right, and you don't approach LBSL. Yes, it is avoidable. I was just curious since it's prominent on the map - see picture above.
Last edited by ElGreco on Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mrchad9

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by mrchad9 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:37 pm

Doh... the route your drew. Got it!

Thanks.

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ElGreco

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by ElGreco » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:29 pm


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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by mrchad9 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:53 pm

I would attach it to the Mount Russell page as well. It would be more easily noticed. (I looked at the Mount Russell page before climbing it, and did not even realize there was a page for the Cleaver)

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ElGreco

 
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Re: Alternative to North Fork of Lone Pine Creek

by ElGreco » Thu Aug 11, 2011 12:35 am

Done - it's now on Russell, Cleaver and Carillon. Thanks.


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