Chocolate Peak (11,858'), Hurd Peak (12,219'), "Notre Dame (12,307')," and The Hunchback (12,226') September 27-29, 1991
A carpool effort assured me that I would have a nice enough time soloing these lesser peaks in the Bishop Creek drainage out of South Lake. A nice drive south on U.S. 395 was followed by our separate effort, with me and my partner going our separate ways. I first did Chocolate Peak, an easy hike. The register occupied me for awhile, then it was back to the cars to meet my fellow hiker.
Then, it was the weekend. A SPS group met at South Lake trailhead to do a couple listed peaks. I'd be climbing on my own, though, with then no legal responsibility by this group. If I didn't return from my day climbs, I presumed my driver would attempt to contact authorities and report a missing hiker, but that would be that. I'd then be in the hands of Inyo County Search and Rescue.
I solo'ed Hurd Peak, by a new way. There's a steep, sandy chute that leads to the top. This new route would be recorded in a then new climber's guide. I'd say class 2 on a formerly class 3 peak. I enjoyed the views, then leisurely hiked back to the cars. Fall colors were appearing.
We had a nice dinner with picnic tables and cold drink. The sunset was stunning, so I used the food table settings as a foreground. We had our social hour, then campfire to discuss stories.
The last day of the weekend, the others would climb Inconsolable, a.k.a. Cloudripper (13,525'). I had found for them the route along the pipeline, leaving the South Lake Trailhead. This saved some gain instead of a start by the old Parchers Camp, using the old Green Lake Trail. I left the group above Green Lake, and explored the ridge of which The Hunchback, and a "Notre Dame" peak (by the register), sat upon. Shooting plenty of photos, I sauntered back to the cars and shortly, the other group returned successfully, too.
I climbed some 18 miles, with 7,400' gain, total. I shot about four rolls of Kodachrome. It was nice to climb in such late season, and to save some gas and miles on my car. Others seem to disapprove of my behavior, so they don't do this anymore. However, small risks, by some, tend to upset trip leaders, and though I have never had to be rescued, there's always a first time. Others haven't met with such luck or skill.
So, now, I go on my own. There's too much chance, for others, that I'll leave them and climb the peaks solo. I now try to stick together when I have an agreeable partner, although I allow capable hikers to go off on their own, too. I've had to assume some basic competance, and have had to wait in doubt. I now consider myself lucky. With some obvious malice against me, I'll coast on my laurels, and adopt more safety precautions as I can.
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