Mt Barnard (13,990′): Summer Sierra Trip Report Part 4

We woke up the morning of Day 4 in Wright Lakes Basin, a lovely place that we seemingly had all to ourselves. This morning we weren’t packing up camp, rather we were off to climb Mt Barnard, the highest non-14er peak in the Sierra. And at 13,990 ft it’s close enough to 14k that maybe someday it will be measured as a 14er, so it’s nice to get it while it’s flying under the radar!

Although the summit of Barnard was less than 2 miles as the crow flies from camp, I had estimated our round trip route to be close to 10 miles of hiking. The southwest ridge of Barnard is an easy Class 1 slope but we still had some unknown terrain to navigate to even get to the ridge.

(more…)

Exploring Wright Lakes Basin: Summer Sierra Trip Report Part 3

Walking the JMT across Bighorn Plateau

Walking the JMT across Bighorn Plateau

Monday morning marked our departure from the John Muir Trail. After a short walk along the well-worn path where it circles south of Tawny Point, we said goodbye to the trail on Bighorn Plateau (home of many frolicking marmots).

We cut northeast and stayed above the lower Wright Creek drainage so we could get a better view of the lakes beyond. Pretty much immediately we found ourselves in a talus field, but it didn’t last long. The cross-country travel was easy and straightfoward, and once we emerged from the trees it was even better.

(more…)

Over Forester Pass to Tyndall Creek : Summer Sierra Trip Report Part 2

Vidette Meadow, looking towards Forester Pass

Vidette Meadow, looking towards Forester Pass

Despite being pretty wiped out from a long first day, I woke up feeling pretty refreshed and ready for another haul on Day 2 of our week long trip. This day’s plan would take us up and over Forester Pass, a 3200 foot climb from our campsite at 10,000 ft in Vidette Meadow.

Forester Pass is the highest pass on the Pacific Crest trail, and after only a day of acclimation it is no easy feat. And I hadn’t lost of a ton of weight from that heavy pack yet, either. But I’ve been over Forester before and knew what to expect, where the good rest spots were, where to refill my water, and how to enjoy myself on the climb.

(more…)

Kearsarge Pass to Vidette Meadow: Summer Sierra Trip Report Part 1

Climbing to Kearsarge Pass

Climbing to Kearsarge Pass

After missing my week in the Sierra last year due to injury, I couldn’t wait to get on the trail this year! The plan was to hike in over Kearsarge Pass and head south along the John Muir Trail, then off-trail to explore Wright Lakes Basin and the 14ers of the Shepherd Pass region (Tyndall and Williamson).

We drove out on Friday night and met up with Pavla at Whoa Nellie. Then we headed south to a decent campsite about a mile off of 395 that would get us some sleep above 7k to help with acclimation. In the morning we headed south to Bishop to fuel up at Jack’s with a big breakfast, then picked up our permit after the White Mountain Ranger District office opened at 8 am.

A couple more stops delayed us a bit, most important was Pavla’s search for packets of spam singles. They weren’t at her normal spot but the Bishop K-Mart delivered! David also picked up a pair of socks at Wilsons. Finally we were on our way to the trailhead at Onion Valley.

(more…)

Patterson

Traversing the Sweetwaters: Patterson and Wheeler Peaks

The Sweetwater Mountains are an overlooked range thanks to their more showy neighbor, the Sierra Nevada. Occupying a piece of largely undeveloped land north of Bridgeport and bordered by highways 395 to the west, 208 to the north, 338 to the east, and 182 to the south, access is exclusively via 4×4 vehicle once you get off pavement.

From my glimpses into the Sweetwaters from 395 and my Sierra summits, I’ve never felt drawn to the range. But as the northernmost peaks in my favorite Desert Summits book they piqued enough interest to deserve further research. What I found was a geologically and historically fascinating area with relatively few visitors. I tucked the Sweetwaters in the back of my mind, planning to explore them some open summer weekend.

(more…)

Another Weekend of Peaks in Yosemite: Warren (12,327′) and Johnson (11,053′)

Proving once again that there is no such thing as too much time in the mountains, I headed back up for another weekend of peak bagging around the northeast end of Yosemite. On Saturday, we climbed Warren Peak, a lovely pile of rocks on the eastern crest of the Sierra with a tremendous overlook of Mono Lake. On Sunday, we hiked to Johnson Peak, a unimpressive pile of rocks from a distance but a fun slabby climb along some beautiful benches up close.

Here are some photos from these two great climbs. If you are interested in the detailed route information for these peaks, I tried to capture it in the captions of the photos in the albums I linked to below. Neither peak is particularly challenging with route finding or terrain, and they would make fun entry level off-trail peaks in the Yosemite area.

(more…)