REYNOLDS PEAK (9,679') 4X July 17, 2001
My buddy Fred needed this peak to complete climbing all of the peaks on the OGUL list, a compilation of 63 peaks about the Northern Sierra. This list was developed by the Peak and Gorge Section of the Sierra Club in 1981 or so. I have completed at least three ascents of all of the peaks on this list, and am about 2/3 completed my fourth time around. Fred had tried to climb this peak once before, but failed due to the moderate technical difficulty. It is rated class 3, which is easy rock climbing. I had done it three times before, so well knew the way, and being an experienced climber, offered to help.
We motored to South Lake Tahoe the day before, and secured a motel room to spare camping with the chilly low forecast (35 degrees) and avoid mosquitoes. A sumptuous buffet at a top Stateline casino provided us with plenty of carbos and energy for the climb.
Having a simple breakfast in town the next morning, we motored over to the Blue Lakes Road off Highway 88 and followed the roads to the 4WD access road up to the boundary of Mokelumne Wilderness, in Indian Valley. Hiking by 8:11 a.m., we followed a faint track south, which soon ran out, and then we headed cross-country around the right (west) side of a large meadow. Our first objective lay to the south as the saddle of the low ridge at the southern end of the meadow. Fred has bad knees, so has to walk slowly. I have to keep him in sight, since I know the way, and he doesn't. A pair of hikers can easily be separated, then lost, in this forested and brushy terrain.
I hiked slowly ahead, looking for the best ways to hike up. We began to climb up a rocky valley filled with pinnacles and other rock formations, lovely and green with grasses and shrubs. Flowers abounded, with reds, yellows, blues, and even Mariposa Lilies. There are no trails, but the hiking is simply uphill on dirt and loose rocks, with steeper sections. I enjoyed taking pictures while I waited.
Soon, we came to a high pass in the main ridge, and I knew we would get to the top. I had been afraid he would choose to turn back, but he is one determined peak bagger! We had taken many rests, and then I led along the easy high ridge to the base of the summit pinnacle.
Telling Fred to wait, I quickly scrambled to the top. There is a short knife-edge portion, which I hopped over, accustomed to the hundred plus foot drop to both sides. I carried my digital camera pack plus cans and a book, since I was told the old register was gone. What a liar my friend has! I had to inconvenience my climbing by holding these items, and on my first descent, I could have dropped them. I also had to worry about my own hand holds.
Many other airy pinnacles were seen from this summit. Firsts might be done on dozens of other little highpoints.
Having summited at 11:51 a.m., I put my 4X signature in the old register, a Northern Sierra classic I had placed in 1984. I lost some nerve on the downclimb. It was airy! I studied my moves, and finally descended on a sloping ledge to the northwest side of the knife-edge. I warned Fred, waiting below, that it was scary, and at first, didn't want to allow him to do this. I had him climb up a easy bit, then went back to my pack below to stash the intended new register, and take my other camera up.
I had Fred go up ahead of me, up the easy parts, to spot his footholds. There is one short vertical step, with good ledges, then easy scrambling to the crux moves just before the top. I had brought a 7mm 40 foot rope, which might serve to hold a short slip. I set an anchor, and belayed him up. Because the rope was short, I set up two pitches, one at the knife-edge and one for the airy summit. Fred remembered his technique, and with little fanfare, climbed up to the top. I had him sign in quickly, then belayed him back down along the narrow knife-edge. No problem! I had him give me a belay as well, to refresh his knowledge, in case he would ever want to help me on other peaks that I needed.
We came back to our packs, and left the summit area by 1:32 p.m. Following the easy ridge back north to a low point, I led Fred slowly back west, down the slopes with the least gradient. I followed our footprints as best I could, shot more photos, and rested often. Clouds accentuated the deep blue sky. A gorgeous day!
I did a good job navigating back, and we arrived directly to our truck at 4:49 p.m. We left the parking spot at 5 p.m., and were back to Highway 88, after my taking road notes for the peaks guide, by 5:55 p.m.
Our stats today were some 6 miles with maybe 1,800' gain, round trip. We had to cross many a dip across gullies and hills. We had to don extra clothes on the high ridge due to wind, and a warm cap was useful for Fred. There were a very few mosquitoes about the meadow.
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