Emerald Peak, Mount Henry, Mount McGee, Mount Mendel
By: George Toby,
This was a great 9 day backpack and peak bagging fun trip. We began with the ferry at Florence Lake and backpacked to Blaney Meadows, Evolution Valley and Evolution Basin to Wanda Lake; then cross country past Davis Lakes to the head of Goddard Canyon, then down the canyon to return to the John Muir Trail, Blaney Meadows and out to Florence Lake. The first trip of the ferry, "Sierra Queen", loads at 8:00 am and leaves at 8:30 am, Fare is $9.50 rt. Last return ferry is about 5:00pm. We had a Full load of 24 people plus back packs and two dogs in each direction. Great ice cream in the small store after the return trip. Yum Yum.
Participants were George Toby, Al Conrad, Mario Gonzales, Ruth Armentrout, Tanya Mamedalin, Wayne Wurzburger, Ed Kenney, and Sylvia (Sur) Kenny. After the second day, Ruth Armentrout decided the trip was too much for her and went back out to join some hikers that were heading back to L,A.
We climbed 4 SPS peaks en route, 7 did Henry and 5 did Emerald by the standard routes. however for Emerald it is better to contour around peak 11,778 about 100 to 150 feet lower than the 11,000 foot level mentioned in the climbers guide. Nice benches and less talus. All 7 climbed Mendel by the class 3 Southwest Pace from Evolution Lake with help of some excellent photos supplied by R.J. Secor. My sincere thanks to R.J, route finding was a snap. The serrated summit ridge was rather exciting. Lots of up and down class 3 rock. No rapes, Climbing Mendel was the highlight of the trip. McGee was climbed from the lower end of the string of Davis Lakes. The first attempt was via the West Ridge, This was a poor choice. It involved endless, time consuming talus slopes. We started after lunch after a tough morning backpack. It became evident we would not get back before dark, so we returned to camp. We hit it fresh the next morning via the steep South chute. This chute looks very intimidating, but it went nicely up to the notch between the two peaks, Then we went Eastery up to the true summit. Lots of loose rock. Not good for a big group. 4 made it to the top. It was a very rewarding climb. But due to the second try on McGee we had to scratch the proposed climb of Scylla from Martha Lake. Time just ran out.
This was a fun trip with a fine compatible group. After 9 days we were still talking to one another and having fun. We took time to smell the flowers and enjoy the Wilderness, and climbed the four target peaks. The best campsites were at Evolution Lake and North Goddard Creek. Evolution Valley was beautiful but Goddard Canyon was outstanding for its sheer mountain beauty. Happy climbing.
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