MT. MORRISON (12,268'), BLOODY MOUNTAIN (12,544') September 15-16, 1979
With fine Sierra weather and a weekend looming, I motored south, solo, on U.S. 395 for another SPS adventure. The group met early at the Convict Lake trailhead, and we shortly started hiking along the shores of this big lake. We were going to climb the Northwest Ridge of Mt. Morrison, making a loop traverse of the mountain as well. I liked this route so well that later, I scheduled it for the local chapter climbers.
Crossing Convict Creek, we clambered up the talus that leads to the base of the ridge. It looks imposing, but was rated class 2. We came to a fork of gullies, and the leader chose to go left. The lead climbers in this group got far ahead of me, then they declared it class 3+, with maybe some higher rated climbing ahead. So, we all turned back and hiked down to the split of gullies, and took the right one. This proved to be it.
We rested on a more level area, and then it was clear that this was the ridge to follow up. The sun was bright, and the group had plenty of energy. We climbed along on the ridge, then came to a break in the ease of hiking. Some climbers tackled a fin that formed the ridge proper. They declared it class 3, then maybe 4. The rest of the group headed around to the left, above a steep drop-off. On my next time, it proved to be a hazard for lesser thinkers, due to the rockfall potential.
Anyway, we all made this difficulty safely, and continued on up the ridge. It levels off a bit, and some got summit fever. I finally made it to the top, and started with some captures of the view. People are in many frames, so being particular, I don't have such distractions from the natural beauty. The leaders had some beer brought up in their packs. Aside from the unnecessary 400-500' climb up the wrong fork, it was a good lead. There was some debate about the rating, the leader admitting only that it was high 2.
We then started down the east slopes. There is a scree run for a few hundred feet, then some careful picking our way down followed that. Down to the lower slopes, there was a small lake, and some maybe drank from it. The slopes ease off, and we tromped down through sagebrush covered dirt. Catching sight of Convict Lake below, we came back to the cars, making this a longer day.
Myself, I went back into Mammoth Lakes, CA, for a fine meal. Nothing like a great dining experience to allay the aches from this 4,800 feet of net gain.
The next day, we met for the saunter up the ridge to the top of Bloody Mountain. Vans could only get up so far on the 4WD road from Sherwin Creek Road, so we hiked up on much of this roadway. A trail then leads to the saddle between Bloody Mountain and Laurel Mountain.
We took an easy scramble, then to Bloody Mountain's northeast ridge. Up higher, the gradient leveled off a bit, and then we were on top. The view was fine, and I didn't shoot like I usually did, as being employed on a menial job, I didn't get much salary. Others would have better camera gear, and I am no match for professionals shooting the Sierra with big budgets and support.
We shortly hiked down the northeast ridge, back to the saddle, down along the trail, and then to the 4WD road. It felt great to be able to bask in the warm afternoon sun, and being safely down after bagging two listed peaks. Waiting, we caught rides in the vans back down to our cars at the bottom.
Another glorious weekend in the Sierra! Why no one from the north attends these trips is beyond me. I was list bagging, so needed to work on numbers. I'd love to climb Bloody Mountain again, doing Laurel Mountain, too, a couple times. But without any companions, I guess a repeat ascent can wait, as for many or all of these beautiful Sierra peaks.
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