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Mt. Morgan previously climbed Sun, Jul 8, 2001|
I decided to head up to Little Lakes Peak using one of the chutes on the west side rather than the more sporting start from Morgan Pass which would go up the SW Ridge. I hadn't checked the beta beforehand, but I think I recalled Secor saying the route from Morgan Pass had some low class 5 slabs to ascend in the beginning. Unsure of this, I chose the safer route up the west side. The lower part of the mountain is a boulder and talus field that fortunately was fairly consolidated with little slippage as I climbed up. I changed plans enroute as the west face looked to have a good many class 3 options that ought to be more fun than the chutes. I picked out an arete between the two major chutes leading up that side, the left chute narrow and probably class 3 or higher, the right chute wide and class 2 (and tedious-looking). While there was some loose rock and I had to be careful what I grabbed onto, the climbing was great fun and mostly class 3 from the talus field below to the summit above. I topped out on the SW ridge a few hundred yards from the summit. Several false summits intervened, stretching out the climbing for a bit longer, but by 6:30a I had reached the summit.
There was a nalgene bottle holding a register dating back nearly 30yrs to 1978, place by Gordon McLeod and party. There were a number of familiar names, some famous, others less so, that caught my attention. I added my name, took some pictures, and continued north towards Mt. Morgan. I had avoided the sun until I had reached the summit of Little Lakes Peak, and after some downclimbing towards the saddle between the two peaks I was able to find the shade again. It was surprising how warm it was in the sun and it wasn't even 7a yet! The shade would last again for most of the way to Morgan's summit.
The route between the two peaks is rated class 3 which I found to be a fair assessment. I suppose if one stuck strictly to the ridgeline it would be harder, but then it might go up to class 5. In any event, it was always easy enough to bypass any difficulties by moving left or right off the ridge as the situation dictated. It was a bit after 8a when I reached the summit of Mt. Morgan, about 4hrs after starting out. I was a little behind in my schedule to get back to Mammoth Lakes, so I didn't stay more than a few minutes. The register dated back only to 2002, the 60yr-old minature glass jar with the note from 1945 that I had seen on my first visit was gone, sadly.
I chose a descent route about as direct as I could back to the trailhead. I started by descending to the northwest following the ridgeline, then dropped down the west side where the ridge turns to the northeast. At first I used a somewhat sandy chute to make a quick descent down most of the face, but I started traversing north where it looked like the chute narrowed and possibly cliffed out (I never did check from below whether this was the case). Descending slabs and through forest, I returned to the trail somewhere between March and Mack Lakes. In the short distance I had to return to the trailhead, I was surprised to pass by seven or eight parties out for dayhikes, backpacking, or just fishing. It gets popular early out here on the trail. I got back to the car at 9:45a, and was only 20 minutes late in getting back to Mammoth Lakes. The family didn't seem to notice the slight tardiness, which means I should be good for a similar outing in another day or two. Nice!
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Morgan
This page last updated: Thu Jul 5 14:09:24 2007
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