MT. STARR KING (9,092'), MT. CLARK (11,522'), GRAY PEAK (11,574') August 1-3, 1980
Not really knowing who all were going on this SPS trip, a lot of people were signed up. But, many dropped out as the trip was rescheduled due to the presumed heavier snowpack this year. That had been for nought, as the snow wasn't any problem.
Meeting three other climbers at Glacier Point TH, the park was pleasantly uncrowded this weekend. We backpacked down to cross Illouette Creek and saw the falls. The group was fast-paced, and I had to strain to keep up. We had three peaks to climb, and the leader wasn't going to wait for anybody!
Dropping our packs, we set out for our first peak, Mt. Starr King. I had tried to hang my pack and food, but was ridiculed as putting up a "here it is, come get it," sign for the bears. We hiked cross-country to the right (south) side of the two domes that make up the mountain. Clambering over the first dome to the south, we gained a great view of the Starr King south face, with its class 4 route.
The leader led up, trailing his rope, and squeaked as his foot slipped a bit. He'd take a good slide if he fell, but soon reached a small ledge to belay the rest of us up. Further up, he placed a fixed rope by which the rest of us were to protect ourselves by a moving prussik. This upper section was friction, and perhaps class 3. Then, it was a easy climb to the top.
The views were great, and the register was quite historic. Great to have such a classic peak already on this first day of the activity. The book has long disappeared, and despite my wishes that it be preserved in the Bancroft Library collection, we have to figure that someone had stolen it or even destroyed it.
A rappel down completed the climb, and we moved our packs to a base camp further along the trail we had taken. We saw a rattlesnake next to a creek, about the highest that I had ever seen one.
Camping just off the trail, we'd have no trouble finding it, on coming back from our next couple peaks. A local group attempting the same peak had lost a participant, with some addlepated leadership, necessitating a park helicopter search and rescue. You do not allow people with little or no navigation tools and experience to go on alone!
After a nice camp together, in the morning, we hiked cross-country to our double climbs, Mt. Clark and Gray Peak. Coming to the meadow below the west side of Mt. Clark, exactly, the leader had done some great guiding to get here. He had pointed out that the USGS map, then, was incorrect in regards to a stream. We crossed over a ridge, and went about to the far, east side of Mt. Clark. Doing some checking out, one person had to downclimb off the wrong way. The actual route is a matter of finding it correctly. It was easy class 3, with an exposed move atop the summit ridge.
We enjoyed the views, a treat for Southern Californians on a weekend, as this was Yosemite, a bit of a drive for them! Downclimbing the class 3 crack/gully, we headed back for the meadow, and started up the west ridge of Gray Peak, more class 3. I managed to record part of the climb, with some airy moves, but nothing that bad. The summit area is small, but I snapped some photos anyway. I had enough of these repetitive vistas, and shortly must have run low, or out, of film.
Back to camp still fairly early in the day, I had thoughts of packing out alone and going home. I wished, though, to know better these climbers, with a list finisher and very determined friends. Two of them have now passed away, and aren't hailed widely, even though they were legend back during this time. There is little fame or glory being a peak bagger!
We quickly backpacked out on our last day, and they roamed about Glacier Point, old stuff, for me, and I headed home for another week of work, and then even more peaks this summer.
The Angeles Chapter climbers are very serious in their hiking, but being a list finisher wasn't a goal for me. Being that for them, they can carpool and climb almost all of their time. I am stymied by a lack of partners, and could have probably done three times as many peaks as I have, but for lack of support. Most of my life was wasted away, stuck at home with no ops to climb. Spending my last many years mostly doing nothing, as far as the SPS list, I am adding my photos to the Net, for whatever good that might do. But as the AC peak sections now have their problems with fewer and fewer people to join and climb, a waste of time, ability, and effort isn't a monopoly of mine.
BACK TO PETE'S THOUSAND PEAKS HOME PAGE