29-Apr-95 (Private Trip)
By: Ron young, George Toby
Our group met at 0700 Saturday morning, 2.2 miles east of Route 395 at the intersection of the Westgard Pass and Saline Valley Roads. This allowed everyone to camp near Big Pine, have an early breakfast and avoid an extra hour of driving Friday night.
It was about an hour's drive in to the trailhead for route B, and by 0845 we were signed-in and ready to start. Snow could be seen halfway up the main slope but it did not look too heavy. I was tempted to leave the ice axe behind. As the climb progressed I was glad to have brought it, because it was used during most of the climb. Originally George and I had not intended this to be a private affair. With the likelihood of snow and the need for ice axes, the DPS management wanted it submitted as a private trip. The roads to the trailhead were good, being paved and graded dirt, but Harry Brumer managed to have a flat when we arrived and stayed behind to repair it.
As the group made its way up the steep slope we ran into deeper snow. It was not consolidated and I was happy to have so many young lions helping to kick steps and pick routes through the brush. There was still snow as the ridge began to flatten near the summit but the going was easier. Being weary of leg and body, my pace was slow, which allowed the group to be at our heels as George and I braved the wind during the final yards to the summit.
The weather report the previous afternoon mentioned wind gusts of 60 mph in the Sierra. I don't know what it was on this day, but George and I had difficulty keeping our balance as we posed arm-in-arm for the summit photos. We soon retreated to a sheltered area for lunch and champagne, and to unfurl the list completion banner graciously provided by Betty and Joe McCosker.
We had reached the summit about 1300, a tad over four hours. By 1400 we had imbibed enough (but not all) of the bubbly, and prepared to start down. It was at this point that I fastened a small bell to the pack of Mirna Roach and commissioned her and Greg to lead us down. Following the gentle tinkling, we retreated down the slope with pauses for more conversation and champagne. The group scattered as we reached the ravines near the base of the slope. I found myself heading cross-country with Rich Gnagy in tow. Rich kept murmuring "Are you sure?" and was probably relieved as we emerged near the cars at about 1700. Soon the rest of the group staggered in and the party began.
In the meanwhile in the process of moving my truck to a flatter spot near the road, I managed to flatten a cooler I had brought. Fortunately the community salad remained intact. But I heard someone remark that Ron ran over someone's cooler and took off. (I guess I was not recognizable bundled-up in a down jacket). The celebration was dampened by a squall that moved through dropping a cold rain. It was over quickly and we continued to party. Later we had a campfire and the following morning after breakfast the participants went their various ways.
This was not a well-publicized trip because George and I had to scamper to get those final peaks before the banquet. We were fortunate to bag some of the more difficult ones near the end like both Picachos and Weavers Needle. Thanks to those who invited us on the climbs that now mostly go as private.
I've been at this list for many years and my thank-you list is too numerous to mention. We thank all those who came along on this climb: Roy Magnuson, Dave Welbourn, Patty Kline (and for the cake), Ron Grau, Rich Gnagy, Mary Motheral, Greg and Mirna Roach, Vic and Sue Henny, Tom Sumner, Edna Erspamer, and Terri and Bruce Turner. Thanks also to those who came for the party: Harry and Karen Brumer, Linda McDermott, Bill Bradley and Barbara Reber. We hope to see many of our friends on future climbs.
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