It was a sad, skeletal Sierra Challenge that assembled Sunday to climb the Miter. Of the 17 people signed up to participate, only Matthew, Adam, and I made it to the Meysan Lakes trailhead for the 6 AM start; even Bob was sidelined. We waited around a few more minutes, then shambled through the summer houses and up the trail, surprising a climber heeding the call of nature along the way.
During a break at the first lake, we all expressed a desire to avoid the hellaceous talus above Meysan Lake, and Matthew suggested Mt. Irvine via the northeast ridge as a better approach. This would make the high point of our approach exactly 1000 feet higher than our goal, but such is the Miter's charm. We slogged up a short section of dirt to the ridge, then followed solid class 2 blocks to the summit, arriving within minutes of each other just before 10:00 AM.
Matthew nears Irvine's summit.
We collected our accidental bonus peak and ate some of Adam's corn nuts, then went in search of the correct chute down. The second chute south of Irvine provided a decent scree descent to a spot just south of Arc Pass. Adam turned off at this point to climb McAdie, while Matthew and I turned south down the gentle dirt slope to the Miter, telling ourselves that we might climb McAdie on the way back. As if.
McAdie across Arc Pass, from Irvine. Matthew on gradual descent toward the Miter.
As the Miter came into view beyond a nameless lake, the route described in Bob's directions became obvious: follow the class 3 chute toward the face, angle right to the ridge where it steepens, and follow the ridge to the summit.
The Miter, showing the route.
Once past the talus at the base, we found pleasant class 3 climbing in the chute, with regular blocks and fins similar to Middle Palisade or Norman Clyde's NNE face. I angled right as the face steepend, where I found a few ducks, but I mostly ignored them and followed the path of least resistance.
I stayed on the ridge for awhile, traversed on a small ledge on the right side, found the tunnel mentioned in Doug Bear's TR, and came to the crux move, a smooth-ish slab with a shoulder-high ledge. I eventually muddled my way up by stemming off the overhanging block behind me to get a foot on the ledge, then grabbing the top of the block.
The crux of the blocky summit ridge.
A few boulder-hops later I was at the summit, where I found a register placed in 2007 by Reiner Stenzel, and signed only by him and (nearly two years later) Michael. I signed in, then hopped back across the blocks to see what Matthew was up to. He had found his own way up, staying on the face longer, and also found his own solution to the awkward slab, reaching the summit a few minutes later.
From the summit, we had excellent views of Iridescent Lake to the west, Sky Blue lake to the east, an unnamed lake to the northeast, and the Rock Creek drainage to the south. We also had a perfect view of the Le Conte to Corcoran traverse; just like two weeks earlier, I still couldn't find the route, and the whole thing still looked ugly.
Le Conte to Corcoran traverse.
Upon returning to Arc Pass, neither of us felt motivated to climb McAdie, and neither of us wanted to re-climb Irvine on the return. Braving the dread Whitney Zone, we dropped down the loose north side of Arc Pass, going right to avoid the cliffs, and bottomed out in a long talus field south of Consultation Lake. Matthew, by the power of Common Sense, descended to the snow at the bottom of the ravine leading to the lake. I, by the power of Sheer Persistence, slogged along through the scree above.
Upon reaching the trail, we were immediately greeted by the jolly green incarnation of the National Forest Service. With luck and a bit of subterfuge, he passed by without asking us for permits, so we escaped without explanation. We cruised down the seemingly-endless Whitney Highway (much faster once Matthew started leading) and down to our cars at Meysan, arriving a bit before 4:00 PM. After portal burgers, Matthew headed home, while I headed for Onion Valley again, psyching myself up for one last long day.