Thu, Jul 6, 2006
The sweeping crest of the Nevahbe Ridge is a dramatic and colorful backdrop for the community of Crowley Lake. This route is a long, airy ridge climb, rising nearly a vertical mile from McGee Creek to the summit. The climbing is continually interesting and involves a wide variety of rock types and quality
- Moynier and Fidler in Sierra Classics - 100 Best Climbs in the High Sierra
This route was unceremoniously dropped from the second edition of the book.
After our Minaret adventure, Matthew stayed with us at our rented condo in Mammoth for the next few days, going out to dayhike a few peaks on his own while I attended to family affairs. I had another day alotted to spend with Matthew during the family vacation, but not a full day like we had in the Minarets. We chose the Nevahbe Ridge on Mt. Morgan as a moderate adventure we'd both been curious about. Reports had it as either really great or rather mediocre, so we didn't expect too much. And that's about what we found - a nice climb, but nothing close to a classic.
We started from the McGee Creek Rd around 5:30a, finding the crux right from the start - a short walk down from the road brought us to McGee Creek and the tricky bit of trying to get to the other side, no easy feat. The current was swift and furious, an old log barely above water level seemed the only way across. I got across without difficulty, but Matthew balked at the wet and somewhat slippery crossing. He backed off, spent some time looking for an alternative, and finally came back to make the crossing at the same spot. After that, everything else was easier.
The climbing was mostly class 2 with occasional class 3 sections, none of it particularly difficult. The views only improved as we climbed higher on the ridge, first views of McGee Mtn to the north, then Mts. Aggie, Morrisson, Baldwin, and Laurel Mtn to the west and northwest. The slope was pretty relentless, a steady upward reach for 5,000ft in a bit over two miles. I kept up my regular pace and didn't wait for Matthew, who was going slower than usual due to a sore knee. The rock was varied as advertised, from low profile desert scrub to loose crud, to bizzare shapes along the ridge. None of it was technically difficult, even when trying to stay on the ridge directly. The hardest part was a moderately steep section for some 50-80 feet just below the point where the summit plateau is reached. It took me just over four hours to reach the summit, Matthew almost six. It was the longest time I ever recalled being on a summit. In the warm sun with only a bit of breeze I took some time to nap, I spent more time balancing rocks, and did a thorough reading of the summit register - not a bad time at all.
We didn't stay long once Matthew joined me, as we headed west off the summit aiming to descend into McGee Canyon off the ridge connecting Mts. Stanford and Morgan. I made a brief detour to unnamed Pk. 3,953m, the highest point along the ridge other than Mt. Morgan. I found a small register in a wax tin going back to 2000. Waiting some five or ten minutes, Matthew wondered what happened to me before I finally appeared along the ridge where we intended to descend. The descent route turned out to be a good one, first down boulders and talus, some sandy sections to speed things up, then dropping into a picturesque alpine drainage above the main canyon. We had a small bit of bushwhacking to contend with just before reaching the trail below. We exited the cross-country portion just where the trail had come back over to the east side of the creek. From there we mosied back towards the trailhead, stopping to enjoy and photograph the abundant wildflowers found where the trail bends to the northeast around Horsetail Falls. We were back to the car just after 4p for a 10.5hr outing. It was more than the half day we had expected, but a fairly enjoyable outing nonetheless.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. Morgan
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