Mount Barnard, Trojan Peak
By: Mark Adrian
Our group of seven departed the George Creek 4WD trailhead at 7:15 AM Saturday under clear sky. Fortunately. one of our group had been there just the weekend before for Williamson and had returned to try again for Trojan and/or Barnard. His memory served us well and he led us through the brushy jungle-like maze of lower George Creek (from the TH at 6,200' to around 8.500' are the worst). Even so, we were occasionally tangling with packs vs. brush, had at least six "good" log crossings, and made it from the trailhead to our camp at around 9,500' in about 6.5 hours. Much of the use trail is obvious and we spent most of the route on the Creek's southern banks. However, there are places where the best route IS elusive. We saw the 20' waterfall that Steve mentioned in his write up; the use trail passes right by it on the Creek's northern side just after crossing a log downstream. We never had to de-pack to overcome any "obstacles", nor did we more than get our boots splashed on by the Creek. However, don't underestimate this approach route, it's still a challenge. OK, now that that was over, we were "comfortably" at camp at 9.500' (snowline) by mid-afternoon. A couple of hours later, three more of our party arrived who had started later in the morning from the 2WD trailhead.
It was a long but relaxing afternoon. Two of our group of ten had continued up the S fork to camp higher (at the bleak unnamed lake at UTM 384200E. 4054600N) to get a closer start for Barnard on Sunday so they could return home Sunday night. The "late" three had planned a 5:30 AM start from our campsite for Barnard and out. Of the remaining five, four of us wanted Trojan and Barnard, and one Williamson. Us five decided to depart by 6:30 Sunday morning and out Monday AM. So, we were all in bed by 8 PM after a spectacular sunset looking over to DPS's Waucoba, Inyo, Keynot and New York Butte in the Inyo Mountains to the east.
The sun was up by 5:30 AM and so were we, the "late" group of three already departing. Leaving camp at 6:30 AM, it was a casual kick-stepping-good-time "stroll" up to the unnamed and un-elevated lake at the base of the slope up to the Trojan/Barnard "bowl". Although the snow was not ideal Sierra "cement", it still accommodated crampons which we used for about 1.500' of gain to the rim of the "bowl". I got some good use out of the French technique (duck walking aka pied en canard) and went straight up while others switch-backed It was actually hot, sunny and near breezeless. It could have been a "day at the beach" except for the thin air and snow. Once "into" the bowl, only three of the four of us decided to go for Trojan, the other would meet us on Barnard.
Our first climb in the Sierra for the season, we slowed down as we neared 13,000' where the climbing on Trojan's S face changed from kick stepping to mixed snow and rock. We approached the 13.950' summit near 11:30 AM after nearly 4,500' of gain. We spent about an hour on top picking out peaks, ogling the register, seeing our friend on Williamson's summit and making Mother's Day calls on a borrowed cellular phone -- HELLO! Mom?, I'm calling from er, um, Mt. Trojan in the High Sierra, you wouldn't believe the view!
The next objective was Mt. Barnard to the S. We could have either glissaded back to the "bowl" and climbed Barnard's "dry" eastern face, or, saved some elevation loss and tackled the alleged class two ridge (Sierra Crest) traverse. We could see some "gaps" in the traverse, but it was too hard to tell if they'd allow passage despite Secor's class two rating. Skeptical. We decided to try the traverse. After losing a few hundred feet and dropping to 4,000 meters over easy class two terrain, it was thence an up hill boulder scramble for about a quarter mile until we "discovered" the first of two obstacles. The first was a major "gap" with vertical drops forcing us off the ridge on to a steep but short snow traverse on the ridge's E face. Then, the second, a few hundred feet beyond, another similar "gap", again forced us down on to the ridge's E slope, but this time, a longer, less steep snow traverse over to "solid" talus. Finally, a simple, but fatiguing talus climb up to the 13,990' summit where we arrived about 3:10 PM, passing our "fourth" en route as he descended to camp.
The register on Barnard is worth spending some time with as it is full of "celebrity" entries. One could almost feel the aura of those great Mountaineers who had come and gone. It was a privilege to sign in and become part of this living history. We spent about 45 minutes on top before picking our way down the talus then across several snow fields and sand spits to the precipice of the "bowl's" eastern edge. From here it was an exhilarating glissade about 2.000' (down to the unnamed lake) on "perfect" snow which had been steeping in the sun all day just for us. A few more short glissades and we were back in camp by 6 PM. We figured it was a 5,500' gain. seven mile day at this altitude, after 11.5 hours of "fun", we were tired!
Five of our group had long since departed for the cars. The remaining five of us had planned to go out Monday, so we enjoyed the remaining evening hours and recollections of the day's events.
Monday morning was just as brilliant and clear as it was the day before. Our leisurely pace had us ready to leave by 8 AM and we were back at the trucks by 12:30 PM. Here, we lazed around in the shade of the huge oak trees at the trailhead soaking our feet in the infamous George Creek, knowing we had been to its source. About 1:30 PM or so, we decided to head for pizza in Lone Pine. Afterwards. everyone else drove back to LA while I headed up to Horseshoe Meadows to go bag Muah and Cartago solo.
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