Tahquitz Peak, Red Tahquitz
23 February 1969
By: Les Stockton
Leader: Les Reid
Your assistant leader scouted this climb two Saturdays in a row without reaching the peaks due to unusual snow conditions. Snowshoeing to the saddle on the second Saturday and utilizing the useless ice ax for balance (the ax would disappear in the snow and so would your elbow - four feet of powder), upon returning, I called the leader telling him of the snow on the freeway, following the snowplow that slid off the road, the continual snowfall and the deep powder, and that it must be a snowshoe climb. He cancelled the climb, but I decided to stay for the morrow in case anyone appeared. Dave Welbourn, with 94 peaks and emblem fever, Barbara and Tony Morel of Long Beach and James Melton appeared at 9:00 a.m., prepared to climb. After explaining the trip would be cold, strenuous, and miserable, they were still desirous of climbing anyway. As Dave had snowshoes and we could trade the lead, we left the cars at 9:30 a.m. Snowing continually, in a whiteout, we followed the trail I had made the day before. The trip was cold, strenuous, and miserable. At the saddle, the driving snow froze on glasses at 16°. The weather prevented even a hasty lunch, and we quickly returned to the lee of the mountain. We were only too happy to move down the mountain in a hurry and said our hasty goodbyes from inside the comfortable VW's at 2:30 p.m. A day to remember!
Incidentally, I used the new (red, of course) plastic snowshoes and was completely happy with them. You forget you have them on. They are flexible enough to slide out if you step on one with the other, so even under the most difficult conditions no falls occurred.
Tony and James learned some snow mountaineering. Barbara climbed like the veteran she is. I didn't alleviate Dave's emblem fever, however.
Would we do it again? You know we would. After a climb like this, hard snow and a warm sun can really be appreciated.
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