Mount Inyo, Keynot Peak
By: Igor Mamedalin
Two weeks before the trip date a report arrived from a reliable field scout stating that the Inyo Range (as seen from the Sierra) was covered by snow and that there was no way that the planned backpack could succeed without crampons and ice axe. A week later another report arrived from a field scout who actually climbed Keynot Peak stating that, although there was some snow, the planned climb should not encounter any problems in attaining its objectives. Saturday morning, as the sixteen climbers gathered outside Lone Pine Station, the Inyo Range appeared to be totally bare of snow and the participants grumbled about the possibility of dying of thirst since all have planned on melting snow for water. In reply, the leader for this endeavor asserted with resolute confidence, "There shall be water", thus reassuring his flock for the weekend.
From the meeting point everyone caravaned to the turnoff for the trailhead at Union Wash where the riders from low clearance vehicles were consolidated into 4WD vehicles. The last two miles into Union Wash on a rough dirt road were negotiated without any problems. Here backpacks were shouldered with great reluctance as everyone proceeded to hike up the wash and into the canyon to a point just short of the first waterfall with a running spring. As one walked, the terrain under foot appeared to be fairly level until one chanced to look back toward the Sierra on the other side of Owens Valley -- at that point one perceived the true grade of the alluvial Fan. From a point near the spring, a fair trail heads up the south slopes of the canyon with numerous switch backs. The requisite 4,500' of elevation were gained before a leisurely lunch and rest at Bedsprings Camp (9,400'). The camp was surrounded by a few but ample snow patches assuring everyone of a plentiful water supply -- "... and there was water".
After lunch everyone contoured around to the saddle just south of Mt. Inyo (11,107') and then along the Inyo crest to the summit. On the way up, Bruce and Terry Turner while enumerating the DPS emblem peaks that they have summited in the past came to the realization that the attainment of Mt. Inyo's summit would reward them with the coveted DPS Emblem status. Honor, but no champagne! The occasion was recorded on film and in the summit register -- and now in the Desert Sage. In addition, four recent WTC graduates commemorated Mt. Inyo as their first desert peak. From the summit everyone speeded back down to camp for happy hour and camp fire.
Sunday morning, thirteen climbers (three chose to head down early) headed south east for Keynot Peak(ll,l0l'). The initial stretch along the ridge was snow free until the first gendarme was reached -- at this point three choices were presented. steep snow on the northeastern slopes to the summit, class 3+ ridge scramble, or dropping down and contouring along the western slopes. Enjoying rock scrambling, the leader first headed south along the ridge only to be forced down to the western slopes by common sense. The route contouring along the western slopes to the summit is well marked by numerous ducks (enough that if laid oat they would form a path to the summit). Attaining the summit of Keynot peak everyone admired the signatures of the original DPS founders in the summit register along with some fine artwork left behind by the Desert Survivors. Summit registers can only be truly enjoyed on the summit (at least until the Desert Register Committee is formed).
From Keynot Peak the line of ducks was followed back to the gentle ridge and on down to camp. After packing up everyone headed down off the mountain along the trail attaining the cars by 3:30 PM. And thus, a pleasant weekend favored by good weather and shared among good friends came to an end. We thank all of the participants for their faith in the leaders: Mark Adrian, Paul Backer, Bill Baker, Carol Breycils, Vi Grasso, Vic Henney, David and Peter Leth, Mike Manchester, Eddie 'Oso' Rivera, Bruce and Terry Turner-Rivera, Sue Wyman, and Ron Zappen.
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