Peak 9,550ft P500
Peak 8,279ft P300
Peak 7,400ft

Wed, Aug 2, 2023

With: Tom Becht

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Continued...

We had planned to do a climb to Peak 11,220ft near Leavitt Peak, but when I looked at the stats the night before while we were in Kennedy Meadows, it came out to 5,000ft of gain and almost 12mi. Neither of us were too excited about those numbers. After a pretty tough day yesterday, we were looking for something easier, so we started searching out alternatives. When Tom left the decision to me, I settled on returning to the Eagle Meadow area we'd hiked out of yesterday, to do a couple of shorter ones that we'd skipped. Our day would involve much driving between the three summits, but we were happy for the breaks.

Peak 9,550ft

This summit is the highpoint of the ridgeline separating Long Valley Creek from Silver Mine Creek, southeast of Eagle Meadow. A Jeep road dotted with a number of private inholdings conveniently got us within a mile and a half of the summit on the east side of Long Valley. The hour-long drive from where we'd camped near Kennedy Meadows meant we didn't start until 7:30a. After crossing a creek, we began an ascending traverse to the ESE though forest understory with a low gradient and easy cross-country. After crossing the same creek a second time, our route grew considerably steeper, but with cool temps and good footing, it was still quite nice. As we got closer to the ridgeline above, the forest gave way to volcanic rock and mild talus, with some snow that proved no real obstacle. The route took us around a couple of tall gendarmes before leading us to the summit ridge after an hour and a quarter. We still had more than half a mile to go, but the ridge made for an easy, gentle hike that got us to the rounded summit by 9a.

Or what we thought was the summit. There is an impressive 30-foot pinnacle a few hundred to the southeast that was clearly taller. Marcus Sierra has a TR on PB that describes this class 5 pinnacle, and I recalled reading it only a few days earlier. Seems I was willfully ignorant when I suggested this as our first effort today. Had we known, we'd have carried up the climbing gear, much as we had the whole previous day (but made little use of it). As it turns out, it would have been more wasted effort because neither of us were sufficiently skilled to climb the thing, even making use of the three bolts at the start of the route. The transition to free climbing above the third bolt was beyond my grade and we could only look at the thing from below. We would have to come back with a skilled climber if we wanted any chance to get up it (and I'm pretty sure I would have to aid the entire length). We went back to the rounded summit that the topo and LoJ would have you believe was the highpoint and left a register there as consolation. The summit offers grand views to some of the rugged summits on the northwest edge of Emigrant Wilderness, including The Three Chimneys and Peak 9,880ft which we'd visited the previous day. One can also see far to the north into the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness and east to the Sierra Crest.

On the return, we began by following the same ridge north along our ascent route, then a tad further to a saddle with Pt. 9,264ft at the head of the drainage our little creek had formed. There was considerable snow in the center of the drainage near the top, but we simply descended the snow-free slopes on the north side of the drainage. This worked out to be an easier route than the ascent, with animal trails helping us down almost half of it. We were back before 10:30a, having spent a little under 3hrs on the effort.

Peak 8,279ft

This summit overlooks Kennedy Meadows and the Stanislaus River high to the west. 45min of driving got us nearly to the furthest reaches of the dirt roads out of Eagle Meadow. Private inholdings and cabins are found along much of the route. We parked near one of these, less than 0.40mi from the summit. It is an easy, mostly flat walk through forest to the base of the peak, where it is revealed as a pile of steep talus from any side one climbs it. The footing isn't great, but we'd seen worse and we were on the summit in 20min. There is a small antenna with solar panels and some instrumentation in a yellow box near the highpoint. Relief Reservoir can be seen to the southeast and an array of much higher summits to the northeast, east and southeast. Another 20min would see us back to the Jeep by a slightly different route, but essentially the same experience.

Peak 7,400ft

This summit is less than a mile east of the previous one, but it would take us an hour and three quarters to make the long drive back out of Eagle Meadow and then around to Kennedy Meadows. The peak is less than a mile and a half from the resort at Kennedy Meadows, and most of our route would follow the very popular trail along Kennedy Creek towards Relief Reservoir to the south. After crossing the first bridge, we left the trail where it passes along the northeast side of the summit, just before where the trail goes through a cut into the granite cliffs on the east side of the peak. We were barely 1/4mi from the summit, but there is still some 800ft of gain. The route zigzagged through cliffs, along brushy ramps with some scrambling that made this surprisingly tough. It would take us 45min to cover that last quarter mile. The summit is very roomy with large granite slabs overlooking the river below and upstream into the Emigrant Wilderness. We vainly wished a helicopter flying overhead would offer us a ride back. After leaving a register under a small cairn, we made our way back down the same route, made easier with the aid of gravity. We finished up back at the resort at 4:30p, happy to call it a day and feeling much better than we had at the end of the previous day.

We had dinner at the resort for the second night in a row, then took showers and found a nice place to camp up by Sonora Pass with an hour of daylight remaining. We would sleep well tonight, but not the sleep of the dead we had last night...

Continued...


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