Pettit Peak, Piute Mountain, Volunteer Peak
By: Al Conrad, Bob Wyka
Having misunderstood that we could secure parking tickets at the Mono Village Resort Cafe prior to the opening of the campground entry station at 7:30 am the leader gathered the flock at 6:30 am. All this did was assure the cafe proprietor a few more breakfast sales while we waited pondering our fate under the canopy of scattered shafts of sunlight and darkening clouds. At 8 am we were leaving the west end of the campground headed for Barney Lake. Storm threats materialized into a heavy shower which lasted for 10 minutes around 9 am. Although overcast the skies didn't shed their drops again until we were eating lunch at Peeler Lake. After that we entered Yosemite NP and enjoyed the rest of the trip in dry weather.
Over Seavey Pass, we found a camp area on a bench to the east of the trail at about 8600'. Staved there two nights Did Volunteer followed by Pettit on Day 2. The obvious basin leading to the SW slope of Volunteer worked well. This was reached via the trial to Rodgers Lake, heading south from the PCT just below the sheer face of Volunteer. We traversed south from Volunteer at about 10,100', not dropping to Rodgers Lake as some have done. The descent from Pettit to Rodgers Lake demanded some bush whacking and negotiating some snow fields. Our consensus was that doing the peaks in this order made a lot of sense because of the terrain and snow conditions. We were back at camp by 6 pm.
Having been warned of the snow conditions by a couple of people who had been in the area recently, the trip went private and ice axes were carried. The leader got teased a bit about that requirement. The snow conditions must have changed dramatically in the two weeks prior to the trip because the trip would have gone well without them. We carried our ice axes to Piute as well on Day 3. On this day, all but one of us pulled them out for crossing the snow basin, we had carried them and we were going to use them!! Mine came in handy as a crutch descending the steep vegetated slope below the prominent pine-tree-in-the- notch landmark we had used in ascending toward the ride from camp.
The route to Piute has been well-described in the literature...about as well as one can do in words. Some trial and error was required for us to find the downslope to the snow basin. The left-heading and then right-heading slopes leading to the ridge NW of the summit climaxed the best ascent of this trio of peaks. Since one couple felt obligated to be with their employers on Tuesday, but still wanted Piute, they just committed themselves to being back at their vehicle by dark on Monday. And they were. The rest of us enjoyed the evening at Peeler Lake and were back at our cars around 9:30 am on Tuesday.
Our route covered about 46 miles and about 10,000' of elevation gain. Stream crossings were not a problem. Participants were: Scott Sullivan, Elena Sherman, Dan Richter, Asher Waxman and Tom Randel. Strong and experienced, these people made this trip a great success.
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