Mon, Jul 8, 2002
We had a long drive and plenty of time to get acquainted, so by the time we arrived in Yosemite we had already discussed much about mountains, plans, work, and other things. I took over driving duties through the winding mountain roads. We planned to camp somewhere off Tioga Road, depending how far we felt like driving. That turned out to be just before Olmstead Point. Shortly before 12:30a, I pulled into a large turnout sheltered some from the highway, and we were soon bedded down in the back of the Isuzu Sport (there was just enough room for the two of us without having to get better acquainted).
We rose at 5:15a as it became light out, temperatures were rather cold. We drove up to Tuolumne Meadows where we ate breakfast on the picnic tables in front of Lembert Dome. There was some frost on the tables and I mostly recall freezing my butt off as I woofed my cereal down as fast I could. I thought it would be a scenic locale to watch the sunrise while eating breakfast, and it was, but the cold took most of the enjoyment out. Afterwards it was back in the car to warm up on our drive through to US395. Several hours later we drove though Bishop and on up to South Lake to begin our hike. It was now 8:30a, and the weather was looking to be quite fine. And warm now, too.
The South Lake trailhead starts above 9,700ft, among the highest of the Sierra trailheads, and lets one start out with that high mountain feel right from the beginning. Hurd Peak looms large and impressive to the south ahead of us as we hiked along the east shore of South Lake. We had considered doing Hurd for our warmup, but rejected it as too easy. Going past Long Lake we had a fine view of Hurd's East Face, as well as the other ranges now more visible. The Inconsolable Range rises to the east, topped by Cloudripper (another of our possible choices for the day), Picture Puzzle, and Aperture Peak. This range joins with the Palisades on its southern end, Mt. Agassiz standing tall as the first peak in the Palisades group. To the south was the Sierra Crest, Bishop Pass on the left, Mt. Goode rising to above 13,000ft on the right. We stopped regularly to take photos of our amazing surroundings, and we joked about not ever making it to the peak with so many stops. We continued on the delightful trail until we reached Bishop Lake at 10:30a, about a mile short of the pass.
We struck off cross-country, heading for the snow survey shelter located on the north end of the lake. The cabin was shut tight, travelers urged to respect the structure with a very polite No Trespassing sign. At the outlet to Bishop Lake we stopped to fill up our water bottles, as we were unsure if there might be any water further up. Sometime earlier it had occurred to me that I forgot to bring a map with me, and in relaying this news to Paul I found that he didn't possess a map either. It didn't seem critical, or even necessary - after all we had seen Mt. Goode from the north and it was easy enough to identify. Coming around the backside for the class 2 approach on the southeast side the peak wasn't so obvious. But I pointed out the false summit we should probably avoid, and we headed for the taller peak at the very head of the canyon we were heading up.
There was little vegetation in the canyon above Bishop Lake, a smattering of flowers, and a great deal more rock. Fortunately the floor of the canyon was compact sand/talus that made travel fairly easy. On the left an impressive unnamed peak looms to dominate the southern side of the canyon. Tedious-looking loose slopes mark the north side of the canyon. As we approached the head of the canyon, I had my eye on the more interesting looking class 3-4 rocks on the left side. The peak could be easily climbed more directly by numerous class 2 routes, but that didn't seem nearly as fun. So I left Paul to take the direct route while I climbed up on the steep rocks on the left, and I wasn't disappointed in the least. Fun class 3 scrambling for a few hundred yards, followed by an exciting little class 4 chimney I found just before the top. There were several class 3 options to avoid the chimney, but they didn't seem to offer the same challenge (i.e. exposure).
As I reached the top of the crest, I looked down to find Paul, who was making his way steadily up the SE Face, and then I looked beyond him to the peak on the far side. I looked up at our Mt. Goode and noticed it was a good deal shorter than the farther peak directly behind Paul in line with myself. Oops. We weren't climbing Mt. Goode it would seem. I shouted down to Paul so that he might change course and head for the correct peak. It seemed he understood what I was shouting, so I continued up the short distance to the top of the wrong peak. Paul hadn't really understood what I said and was continuing up as well. I now began to recall that Secor mentioned that many parties intending to climb Mt. Goode end up on Peak 12,916ft by mistake (earning it the name, "Mt. No Goode"). We were now one such party. Mt. Goode proper stood 170ft taller about a half mile away, connected by a jagged ridge that drops down several hundred feet to Goode Pass before climbing back up towards Mt. Goode. I didn't really mind that we ended up on the wrong peak - the climbing was much better than it looked over on the slopes of Mt. Goode, and a little extra mileage wasn't going to hurt us anyway.
While I waited for Paul to join me, I headed west towards another small peaklet about the same height as Mt. No Goode. It was a short walk over boulders and a small snowfield. From the top of that peak (which Paul later named "Mt. Really No Goode") I saw a fine looking, but short knife edge connecting it to yet another lower peaklet further to the west. It had class 3 written all over it, so of course I climbed down and over to have a look at it. There was a good deal of exposure in climbing up the small summit blocks there, no register, no name to it, just a fun little scramble to while away some time. Coming back to Mt. Really No Goode, I saw Paul to the east on Mt. No Goode. He had climbed it a bit faster than I expected, and I didn't make it back before he got there. He waved in return, then I headed back. Down, around, and through some large blocks and over the snowfield again, I made my way back. But no Paul. My shouts went unanswered. Looking back west, there was Paul on Mt. Really No Goode. Somehow we had managed to pass without seeing each other. By this time Paul was thoroughly confused. He shouted asking where Mt. Goode was. Somehow he'd gotten the impression that I was waving him to Mt. Really No Goode thinking it was Mt. Goode. From across the small gap (maybe 100 yards), we shouted back and forth and I pointed to the real Mt. Goode behind me to my right. Paul finally caught on that he was going the wrong way, and came back. Who needs a map, eh?
It was 12:15p when I first reached the top of Mt. No Goode, but with the back and forth messing around with nearby peaklets we had managed to burn up 45 minutes, though all in good fun. Back together, I explained where we needed to go to reach Mt. Goode, and offered that Paul could follow me on the ridge or head back down if he preferred. Paul surveyed the ridge noting the drop down to the pass, and finally decided to join me - what the heck. Excellent. We headed down and across the ridgeline. We both agreed that the class 2 rating was a bit of a sandbag. The large boulders that we climbed up and down over had plenty of class 3 moves to their credit. But it was fun. And still seemed to be more fun than the sandy Southeast Slope of Mt. Goode. Maybe we were just rationalizing. Paul needed a stop to perform some first aid on his feet before the blisters got the best of him. He'd brought an assortment of goodies to pamper his feet with, and made good use of it. We finally reached the summit of Mt. Goode proper at 2p. There is a west and east summit, the east being the highpoint. It's a fine summit block with a steep dropoff down the north side. Perusing the summit register, it seems the North Buttress route is quite popular, and might be the most frequently used route to the summit, despite its 5.8 technical rating. We hung out for about half an hour enjoying our snacks and the views, particularly SE towards the Palisades.
The descent was nearly as easy as we'd expected. The top third was composed of large blocky boulders getting smaller as one descended. A small snow section had to be crossed before we got to the easier sandy slopes below. This section went very quickly, losing altitude rapidly, and we even managed to find a decent use trail that took us nearly back to Bishop Lake. A few last blocky sections to descend, and we were at the lake and soon back on the trail. Less than two hours later we were back at the trailhead, arriving at 5p, only three hours after we left the summit.
After enjoying a few refreshing drinks from the cooler, we drove down to Independence where we got a motel room for the next two nights. We cleaned ourselves up with a shower and fresh clothes and went out looking for dinner. The town has few choices to offer, we found. Walking past the pizza place, we looked in, discussed it briefly, and started heading down the street. From behind us we heard "It's good... and cheap!" Looking back we saw no one. Evidently one of the employees had seen us peering in the window, and shouted out the back patio at us. We both laughed and decided with that endorsement we had to give it a try. It was passable pizza (nothing special), and the salad bar was quite fresh. But it wasn't cheap. Paul had a case of his eyes being much too large for his stomach and though we should get a large pizza. It was about three times what we could eat. We took the rest back to the motel room to put in the fridge. It would come in handy the next day following our return from Williamson.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Goode
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