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The previous day had been a busy one. There was a memorial for Matt Yaussi in Glendale that occupied me until around 3p. Matt's mother, sister and other family members shared memories with perhaps 100 of us that had gathered at the church. Iris, too, gave a touching tribute that captured the feelings that many of his climbing friends shared. A sad occasion, to be sure, but I'm terribly glad I was able to be there and share the collective grief felt for the loss of our friend. I had a nephew's wedding to attend at 4:30p in Temecula, so I had hurriedly dismissed myself to get on the freeway heading south. I ended up missing the ceremony due to an accident that had I-15 closed temporarily, with 30min spent at a dead stop. The cause had been the death of a motorcycle officer who had pulled someone over to write a ticket. Another vehicle, piloted by a drunk driver, had been driving on the shoulder and plowed into the other car, sandwiching the officer and his motorcycle between them, a most dreadful incident. Yet another reminder of the tenuous hold life has on us all. I made it to the reception with hardly a soul noticing I'd missed the ceremony, and spent the rest of the day and evening in the companionship of my large extended family (Catholic, you know). After we were kindly discharged from the wedding site around 10p, I chose to get some sleep rather than join the others for either of the two options, an after party in Temecular or gambling at the Pechenga Casino south of town. I made my way to the trailhead for Monserate Mtn on the east side of I-15, south of Temecula and spent the night there. The interstate traffic was constant which made sleeping in the back of the jeep easier than one might think - the road noise was more like white noise than the occasional interruptions which would have been worse. I figured I could get a hike in to a local mountain in the morning before the family had gathered for breakfast after sleeping in. This worked out quite nicely. After breakfast, there was another event planned for the afternoon at the bride's parents' home, but I decided I'd had a full amount of family and would enjoy a lonely drive more, so I headed off to Nevada, stopping in the Alabama Hills for some late afternoon leg-stretching.
Peak 5,718ft proved the biggest challenge of the day. It lies well west of the range, just north of Whitney Portal Rd. I suspect the easiest way to tackle it is from paved Whitney Portal Rd to the south, but I approached from the northeast since that seemed straightforward on my return from the other two summits. The one-way distance from the starting point at the end of the spur road and a hidden campsite was about 3/4mi, following up what seemed the obvious gully heading to the peak. This gully quickly became a class 3+ challenge with giant boulders providing great scrambling and no clear way to the summit until one is nearly upon it. I kept expecting to find my way blocked, and in a few places it did become so, but only briefly as I was able to quickly find another route around these points. I hadn't appreciated that the summit is some 400ft higher than the HP of the Alabama Hills and when I started out at 5:50p I expected I would easily get back before sunset around 7p. It would take me 50min at a hard pace to reach the summit and another 40min to get back. I took a very different route on the return, but it proved to be equally challenging with even larger blocks and some pretty cool tunneling sections, too. I got back by 7:20p with sufficient daylight, but was glad it didn't take another 20min or more because I had neglected to bring my daypack with my headlamp. It had been surprisingly warm this afternoon as I found myself having worked up a good sweat and somewhat dehydrated. Worse, I got several bites from the first mosquitoes of the season. I suspect they will be particularly bad this Spring and Summer.
After showering in the Alabama Hills and dining in Lone Pine, I drove north to Big Pine, then up to Westgard Pass in the White Mtns. It was only after reaching above 7,000ft that it was cool enough to sleep comfortably. The weather was supposed to stay warm for another day or two which would work well with my plans for the next few days...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Monserate Mountain
This page last updated: Sun Apr 28 11:34:25 2019
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