Sun, Jul 10, 2022
Day 2 of our father-daughter roadtrip had us climbing Da-ek Dow Go-et, formerly known as Jeff Davis Peak. It's difficult to pronounce and spell the new Native American name, so I'll use the old one here out of laziness. The peak is a volcanic plug in the Blue Lakes area, a low 5th class summit that most folks tackle with rope and gear. Matthew and I had climbed it back in 2006 as a Spring snowshoe outing, though the rock climbing portion on the south side was thankfully free of snow. The outing is fairly short, less than 2mi each way. We had spent the night camped at Red Lake east of Carson Pass. We had driven in on the high-clearance road on the north side and had the lake to ourselves. It was one of the better campsites I've run across in the Tahoe area. Jackie slept outside on an open tarp while I took the cozier position inside the Jeep. We were up at 6a with sunrise, but it took some time to dry out the sleeping bag, pad and ground cloth that had collected moisture overnight. We ate breakfast in the Jeep while waiting for the sun to do its thing, eventually packing up and heading down to Blue Lakes Rd.
We found our way to an unmarked trailhead about 5mi south on Blue Lake Rd, packed up our gear and were ready to head out by 7:45a. We followed the trail east up to the crest of a ridgeline separating Charity Valley on the west side from Pleasant Valley to the east. Here we turned right to follow the ridgeline to Jeff Davis, clearly visible now. It took about 40min to reach the base of the peak, then another 5min to work our way around to the south side of impressive feature to find the climbing route. After 16 years I had retained only vague memories. I had completely forgotten the scramble that takes one up the lower third of the route. It's only class 3, but there is plenty of loose material that made Jackie uncomfortable. Soon enough, we were at the bottom of the rope section that looked more familiar. Here we took off our packs and went about switching to climbing mode - changing to rock shoes, flaking the rope out, shouldering gear. The route looked easier than I'd remembered. I would have no trouble leading this, but per usual, I gave Jackie her choice. She decided to do the lead, which would be her first since her lead fall mishap at Pinnacles NP more than a year earlier. I had packed only a very modest collection of gear as I didn't remember much being needed. We had a couple of cams, half a dozen slings of various sizes, and some carabiners. It would do.
Ready to start up shortly before 9a, Jackie moved up steadily, enjoying the big juggy holds and a chimney/crack in the middle to offer some protection. She slung a protruding rock about 20ft up from the start, the only piece she would places before reaching the belay/rap station about half a rope length up. Upon following, I judged I probably would have placed another piece higher up as some of the route seemed bold on lead. When I joined her, I realized we were still below the start of the vertical chimney that forms the other technical half of the climb. The easiest thing would have been for both of us to climb through the tunnel behind the rap station, but we didn't know if the hole went through to above. So I left jackie tied in where she was, took the pro from her and led the short section around the left side on easy terrain. I didn't place any pro here as it was fairly easy. I really just wanted the belay to keep me from making a 30-foot drop should I do something foolish. I was surprised when one of the large holds I had grabbed came off almost immediately, plummeting down our ascent line, smashing into bits before coming to rest (some of the pieces would end up in our boots and open pack). Clearly, the rocks were not to be trusted 100%. Once above in a second alcove at the base of the upper chimney, I could see that the tunnel did indeed go through. So I had Jackie untie from the rope, and climb through the hole because, well, tunnels are fun and need to be utilized when possible.
I suggested the rope would be more hindrance for the second pitch up the narrow chimney, but it would leave Jackie more nervous. It's a very tight squeeze, hard to get one's body in it (packs definitely left behind), and likely hard to fall in as well. I went up first, staying just above her for the 20-foot pitch, offering foot placement suggestions to make things easier. This was completed in a few minutes without incident, then an easy 1-2min class 3 scramble the rest of the way to the airy summit.
Flies and bees were were buzzing the summit before we had arrived. Though they weren't landing on us, Jackie didn't feel relaxed sitting up there. An ammo box held a register dating to 1985, placed by a Sierra Club party. I was happy to see my 2006 entry still intact. After we signed our names, I hurriedly photographed its many pages while Jackie looked on a bit impatiently. When I finished, she was quick to pack it back in the ammo box so we could start down. We reversed the scrambling, then the chimney (I went down first so she could fall on me), then back through the tunnel and a long rap back down, in turn. It was good I had brought a 50m rope because it took all of that for the rappel. More class 3 scrambling saw us to the base of the formation where I could retrieve my trekking poles before we started back.
As we were heading back along the ridgeline, I suggested we could do Markleeville Peak (about 1.5mi to the north) as a bonus. Jackie was not keen on that. She had several blisters on her toes and preferred to head back, so we tabled that for another time. Instead, we headed back to the Jeep, finishing up at 11:20a. It was too early to drive to Lake Tahoe for check-in at our motel, so we drove to Blue Lakes, looking for a quiet spot Jackie where could take a swim. We drove by Lower and Upper Blue Lakes, finding them too busy for her liking. We then discovered a rough 4WD road that we could follow all the way to Red Lake where we had camped the previous evening. That was a quiet place we'd likely have to ourselves. As it turns out we didn't get that far, because we discovered Lost Lakes a short distance above and north of Upper Blue Lake. There were other folks camped here, but the rough road discourages heavy usage. We found a nice shady spot on the north side of the north lake where we whiled away a few hours. Jackie had a nice swim in the cold water, then lay out in the sun to dry off and warm up again. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Da-ek Dow Go-et
This page last updated: Fri Nov 25 18:02:55 2022
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