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Mt Williamson (aka Big Willy 14’375) & Tyndall (14,018”) Dayhike Trip Report, 7-15-06
After last weekend’s t-storm action on Big Willy had rebuffed Tony and I, I was ready to give it another go, with vengeance! I planned to kick it up a notch and get both Big Willy and Tyndall as a dayhike. Also July 15 is the last chance for Big Willy in 2006 (except for 2 weeks in Dec) for Williamson because the Bighorn Sheep Zoological area is closed from July 16 through December 14.
Got started from the Shepard Pass Trail Head on a comfortable and bright moon night at 2 am. I had to take my boots off on the first Symmes Creek crossing, while the other 3 creek crossings were tricky but manageable with boots on. Then up the switchbacks to Symmes Creek Saddle, down the sandy slopes to Mahogany Flats, up to Anvil Camp, around the Pothole where I saw the smoky sunrise and finally got up to Shepard Pass by 6:30.
After a snack and water refill, it was up the Shepard plateau and across the Williamson Bowl to the base of the West Face of Big Willy (8:30). As I was starting up the normal west chute a group of 4 trail maintenance rangers (title?) were going strong and passed by me. Got to the top of Williamson at 10:10 and was rewarded with great views and mild weather. I placed a new summit register in a Tupperware container on the summit, but noted that Dan & Amy Goriesky of Ridgecrest had placed a brand new register in a metal Swiss Army box the day before on July 14. Also noticed a new memorial to Larry Steely (1946 – 2006), not sure of the circumstances but RIP
After about 45 mins on top I headed back down (~11am). Going back down I must have stopped and chatted with about 20 people on the various parts of the west face, a very busy last day on Big Willy.
While crossing the Williamson Bowl (12:15 – 1:30) I witnessed a pretty big and spectacular rock slide down one of the NE gullies on Mt Versteeg (Tyndall’s neighbor to the SE). I just hope no one was in that area.
Started up the north rib of Tyndall ~1:40 and got to the summit at 3:10 for more beautiful views deep into the Sierra back country. The snow patch at the top of the north rib can be by-passed by heading slightly right (west) thru the final rock band to the summit ridge. From there it’s a short snow-free scramble to the summit of Tyndall. After snacks and photos, I descended by the same route and got back to the Shepard plateau around 4:40.
As I got back down to the base of Tyndall, I first heard and then saw the strong outflow from the icy tarn that sits just north of Mt Tyndall and makes up the head waters of Tyndall Creek. In the morning there is just a trickle that flows across the Shepard plateau and down towards Tyndall Creek, but after a day of strong sunlight there is an amazingly strong creek flowing (~50-60’ wide and shin-calf deep) with no easy way to cross it. After futilely searching up and down the creek for a place to cross, I finally took off my boots and walked across the painfully icy waters and rocky bed. It took 5 mins to thaw my feet out, ouch!
Then finally got back to Shepard Pass at 5pm for another snack and water and then a quick & safe glissade down the Shepard Pass snow bank (saw a tent perched about ½ way up on the SE side in the talus, strange place to camp). Surprisingly with all the folks up there on the last day of Williamson, I saw very few people on the hike down and got back to the car at 8:40pm.
Another great and very long day in the Sierras with total, just short of 19 hours, ~30 miles and ~12K gain/loss
Notes & other stuff;
1. Saw Rick Kent and Mike (?) on Friday night in the Lone Pine Carl’s Jr after Rick had just come back from Stemwinder on Mt Thor. Rick, Matthew, Glenn & Bro (Kurt?) had a full 3-day weekend schedule of technical routes throughout the Sierras, all great stuff.
2. Congrats to Tony on doing the Big Willy dayhike on Fri (7/14). He returned to the Shepard Pass TH around 10:30pm (I was getting my usual no/poor TH sleep) and told me about his successful and very long day. Good going Tony!
3, I drove back to Irvine by 1:40am and realized that I’m getting too old for these weekend Sierra commutes. Driving home after such a long day wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve done, I was so tired. I had tinkered with the idea of staying in Lone Pine and then going for Langley on Sunday, but I knew I was way too tired to try anything on Sunday (I could barely write this TR Still it would have been best to get some sleep before going home.
4. Although I’m not attempting any speed records it’s interesting to compare how fast some of these super dudes/gals can go. Josh from SP has done this dayhike in as short as 15hours, which is un-freaking believable;
Jack McBroom took 16 hours in August 2002
SP Josh (from SummmitPost) took 15 hours in Aug 2001
Hans Florine took ?? hours and only did Tyndall because of the Sheep area closure in Aug 1999. By the way, how did Jack & Josh do Big Willy in Aug
Note; Han Florine’s wife (Jacqueline) was reported to have climbed Tyndall on July 9 as part of a women’s speed record attempt on CA’s 14ers (the same day Tony and I got rebuffed by t-storms on Big Willy). Not that it matters, but I don’t recall seeing any summit register by J and forgot to take a photo of the summit register for that day, d’oh! J Florine
5. It was jackrabbit derby along the road to Shepard Pass TH and along hwy 395. I accidentally hit one on the Shepard Pass TH access road and another along 395 It must have been a strange sight, as I had the bright lights on and was honking the horn every 10 sec while crossing the Shepard Pass fireroad trying warn the rabbits of my approach.
Here are some photos (I'm still working on the captions)