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08-04-2011, 02:27 PM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
- Out on the edge of the bell curve
OT- Pictures of Mt Humphreys July 12th 2011
At a mere 14 feet below 14,000 feet, Mt Humphreys dominates the landscape above Bishop, California. About half a dozen years ago, Stevee B. and I took a run at the peak via the famed East Arete. We found the climbing superb. Alas we ran out of time, summitting the 13,100+ sub peak only. With that in mind, it was near the top of my list to return and try for the whole meal deal. We encountered a problem. The road was washed out by the famed Buttermilk boulders. Had been for months. This would add many miles and thousands of feet of ascent, all in the open blazing sun.
After brainstorming with the rangers, mulling over old topo maps, we determined to try and get up toward the peak via old four wheel drive roads which may or may not be in condition anymore. Which may or may not even exist anymore. Thus this element was added to the adventure. It was rocky. It traversed knife edge ridges. It crossed recent fire scars ablaze in wild flowers. It at times, was not much of a road at all. And after 2 plus hours, it got us to where we needed to be. Relaxing the rest of the afternoon, along side a stream, in a thick aspen grove, playing chess and backgammon, old mountain trip traditions of ours.
In the early AM, we embarked from our camp in a meadow at 9,400, climbing over sage, forest, snow and alp to the start of the ridge at 12,000 feet. We found the climbing to be as good as remembered and with an eye on the clock, we pressed on to get the whole package. It was long. We found about 18 pitches of low to mid 5th class pitches, that one could solo here and there. Also several mid 5th class pitches that were quite exposed, committing and thin.
The time passed. We felt the pressure. Once we heard the Clink, clank clink, clank, over and over again as one of our ice axes descended the east face, by itself, for over 1,200 vertical feet. With the sun low in the sky and having surmounted multiple false summits, we topped out. We had almost given up a few times. The view off the west side, seen for the 1st time was huge and a snowy high plateau of wilderness. We signed the register and noted we were the 2nd and 3rd person to sign in this year.
With all due haste, we downclimbed and rapped alternately down to a steep snow coulour we hoped would bypass the many knife edges that made up our ascent route. With one ax and one pair of sufficiently sharp edged boots between the two of us, we cautiously descended the quickly hardening snow and ice, down to camp, arriving at last light. At 16 hours, our longest day of the trip. We slept up high, at the trail head, tired but pleased. On the drive out, pictures of the wildflowers and a birds of prey. Is it a Turkey Buzzard?
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08-05-2011, 02:38 PM #2
- Join Date
- Apr 2011
- SLC, UT
Nice story followed by some great photos! Definitely adding a few of these to my hit list
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