The Yellow Brick Road to Mt. Gayley

The Yellow Brick Road to Mt. Gayley

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 18, 2005
Activities Activities: Scrambling
Seasons Season: Fall

Kaweah on the South Fork Trail of Big Pine Creek

Our group met by Glacier Lodge west of Big Pine, CA to embark on a 3 day outing with plans to climb Mt. Gayley and Temple Crag. We had along with us a friendly canine named Kaweah. Probably most people approach Gayley from the Palisades side taking the North Fork Trail of Big Pine Creek and through Sam Mack Meadows. We took the South Trail which heads southwest from Glacier Lodge. When our group got to Willow Lake (elev. 9,600 ft.), we abandoned the trail and embarked cross-country west and slightly north. Our route basically followed Big Pine Creek keeping a little north of it. Our destination for camp was a small unnamed lake about 3/10's of a mile south of Contact Pass. From that lake, Gayley would be southwest of us and Temple Crag northwest.
Backpackers Along SouthFork Big Pine Creek TrailTwo members of our group en route to our camp

Traveling cross-country as we did, Kaweah sometimes hesitated when we had to scramble over boulder fields, but with the coaxing of his owners he got over everything that our route threw in his way. It helped that he had on a rugged pair of doggie boots (he wore out two pairs on this trip).
Climber KaweahKaweah in his climbing boots

It took about 5 hours to get to our campsite. The only feasible area for our tents was right by the water so we had to violate the 200 foot rule. To the north loomed Contact Pass. After setting up our tents, we spent the rest of the afternoon indulging in ease and repose. Kaweah joined us for Happy Hour and for dinner. His food probably tasted better than my meal in a pouch.
Campsite South of Contact Pass, Sierra NevadaOur campsite south of Contact Pass

A Beautiful Day for a Climb

We awoke to a beautiful day for our Gayley climb. During breakfast, I accidently spilled my hot oatmeal on the ground. I offered the spilled contents to Kaweah, but he turned up his nose at it. Now I knew that he thought he eats better than I do.
Sunrise towards Mt. GayleySunrise looking towards Mt. Gayley

One of Kaweah's owners was assigned to stay back in camp with our food connoisseur canine. The rest of us headed off due west to find our Yellow Brick Road.

The Yellow Brick Road to the Top

We navigated a fairly comfortable route only interrupted by a 30 minute back- tracking delay due to a route-finding error. The Yellow Brick Road route begins from the notch between Gayley and Mt. Sill. At that point you head north to get to get to the summit of Gayley staying below the ridge on your left. The route is 3d class, but with a few 4th class moves required.

It took us a little over 5 hours from camp to the summit (13,510 ft.), including our 30 minute delay. The scrambling was fun and the views on top were outstanding. If only Kaweah could have been there!
View from Mt. GayleyA View from Gayley's summit

Patty Rambert (in yellow)On the summit of Mt. Gayley: Patty Rambert is in yellow

Back in camp, Kaweah greeted us boisterously. Before dinner, Kaweah jumped in the lake for a bath and one of his owners pulled a bathing suit out of her backpack and joined him. The rest of us demurred owing to the temperature of that lovely green tint water. During dinner, we discussed the next day's Temple Crag climb. Once again, Kaweah seemed to relish his meal more than I did mine. Go figure. I will narrate our exciting Temple Crag climb and the near heart-stopping leap across the "big step" in a separate trip report.


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