By: Keith Martin
Saturday morning five eager climbers gathered in the Onion Valley parking lot. We had all spent the night before sleeping in or near our cars. A 2 am arrival of foreign speaking car campers who could not shut up for over two hours had left several of us in a less than frisky mood. However, loud talk and socializing with a group including Randy Danta, who were planning to run (yes, run!) from Onion Valley over to a party night at Roads End in Kings Canyon succeeded in repaying the courtesy of the car campers.
Being a restricted trip. a little extra paper work was in order. but it was quickly completed and we were on our way up the trail cowards Golden Trout Lake. Though shown on the map as a maintained trail, in actuality the trail is a little rough in a couple of locations. Below Golden Trout Lake, we cook the use trail up to the lakes just north of Golden Trout Lake. At the farthest lake we climbed the slope to the col just south of Dragon Peak. Low angle summer snow covered pans of the lower slope, but this was easily climbed in places to the steeper dry rock above. At the top of the slope is an approximately 100 foot third class wall. We climbed a gu11y on the north side of the wall which required one exposed third class move on which several climbers asked for a belay. Climbing to the top of the col. we dropped down about twenty feet on the west side and traversed to the peak, finding the easiest way close to the ridge top. The true peak was hidden from view by two sub peaks. We climbed to the saddle between the sub peaks and followed easy ledges to the base of the summit. A vertical third class crack system on the right side of the summit led to within about thirty feet of the top. At that point a horizontal crack with lots of exposure leads across to an easy second class approach to the top. We set up an anchor at one side of the crack. and I crossed to the opposite side and up to the peak where I set an anchor. Front the top I belayed the other climbers across the crack with the advantage that no one would pendulum if they slipped. We all summited by about 12:.30.
From the summit we watched as clouds darkened the peaks to the west and rain fall could be seen in the distance. After a short lunch we retraced our steps back along the ridge. When we got to the col. We found a ducked route that lead down the south side of the third class portion which was much easier than the way we had gone up. Soon we were down to the trail, returning to the cars by 5:30 p.m. We finished the trip with dinner at the Whitney Cafe in Lone Pine.
Thanks to Jim Murphy my assistant and evaluator for my provisional lead. Thanks also to Paul Graff David Underwood and Gwen Hembrock for participating and aiding in the route finding.
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