Rabbit Peak, Villager Peak
By: Patty Kline, Frank Goodykoontz
17 people met at 7:30am on Saturday morning for a 2 day backpack and Erik Siering's HPS List Finish on Rabbit. Frank and I led his 100th on Villager. David Eisenberg and I led his 200th on Rosa Pt. Now Frank and I were about to complete the trio with him on this joint HPS-DPS trip.
We got started hiking about 8:00am after signing the waiver-sign-in sheet and making last minute pack adjustments.
We got to camp about 4:00pm in the saddle immediately below Villager. As I was unpacking my pack and putting on warmer clothes, I noticed the thermometer read 35 degrees. It must be a mistake. It wasn't a mistake at 5:30pm when I got into my sleeping bag to eat the richest, most fatty food I had in order to get warm and stay warm. At 5:45pm a terrible wind of gale force (40 mph) came up in the darkness, My tent fly blew off. After blowing off the second time I gave up and was flyless the rest of the night with it lumped at the door of my tent. Gail Hanna came up on her own and joined us that evening before the winds came up. We were grateful that she found her tent after it blew away. Kathy Price and Jim Adler watched one of their tent poles break from the inside of their tent.
Most of the tents were taken down before starting at 6:30am. We had intended a 5:45am start, but it was impossible in the wind. A lot of people had equipment that blew away. Julie Rush searched and never found her day pack until after we got back in camp from doing Rabbit.
The walk to Rabbit was nice on the ridge of 7 bumps ending on Rabbit. The ridges stood out in dramatic relief in the clear, low December sun. We got to the top about 10:30am, Erik leading the last 1/2 mile. The snow on the summit plateau was about 3 inches deep and frozen hard. We had several bottles of champagne, cookies and chocolate. This was a first class list finish celebration for 17 people. We also had our lunch there. The snow was softening up as we left at ll:15am. Just before dropping back into camp we signed in on Villager.
At 2:00pm it was so cold in camp it was hard to pack my backpack. 2 of my extra bottles of water that used to be 2 liter soft drink containers were still so frozen I couldn't pour them out. Our group left a lot of water in our camp if anyone needs it. Eventually the soft drink containers will break down with age and loose their water, so get them while they are fresh.
The desert looked especially beautiful on our descent. The cholla glowed from the sun shining behind. The ridge from Villager gradually descended down to the desert floor 5000 feet below. It is about my favorite ridge on the whole HPS list. The desert floor looked like an immense wilderness spreading to the south and west. As desert flat land recedes from view, it always foreshortens and therefore seems to rise as it gets farther away. I really enjoy this optical illusion.
We got out at 7:15pm, having the last 2 hours with flashlights. The blinking car beacons of Gall Hanna's and Dave Jensen's helped us down the end of the ridge and across the desert floor.
The participants were Jim Adler, Kathy Price, Peter Doggett, Greg Roach, Mirna Roach, Jennifer Lambelet, Julie Rush, David Jensen, Erik Siering, Ann Kramer, Wendy Dixon, Jeff Gillarde, Matt McBride, Barry Holchin, Fran Rushie and Gail Hanna.
This is my third time for Rabbit, always a legendary trip. The first was a backpack that was too hot to think about in early November 1988. The second was a dayhike that was too hot. After experiencing Rabbit ice, I am looking forward to a fourth time.
I want to thank Frank Goodykoontz for leading with me on one of my favorite climbs. Congratulations to Erik for his HPS List Finish on "The Big One."
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