Mount Baxter, Diamond Peak
By: Ron Jones
The Baxter Pass trail was the only named pass which I had not hiked. The trail was a favorite of Jim Hinkley's and Maris needed Diamond Pk, so we scheduled it. Then Maris had a personal conflict and couldn't come, so at the trailhead I asked Terry Flood of Carlsbad to assist. Terry is a rated leader in the San Diego Chapter and has led National trips.
Jim had an extra day so he repeated his several ascents, from Boy Scout days, of Baxter Pass and came in on Thursday, recovered on Friday.
Mark Adrian had asked for permission to bring his short wave radio, and he joined Gary Vance, Terry & me on the hike in from the Oak Creek roadhead. The Baxter Pass trail is in the same bad condition it has been for several years (stock unable to negotiate the washouts) and Saturday we made an uneventful backpack to camp at the lower end of Baxter Lake, where we were met by Jim.
Sunday we had an uneventful climb of Mt Baxter but on the return to west saddle, Gary when approaching the saddle at 12,500 ft, stepped on a small loose rock, twisted and broke his ankle. Terry and Mark had gone ahead for a fast try at Diamond . Pk and I had to run down 1500 ft and then up several hundred feet to catch Mark and his radio. Thank God for the radio, this at a time when any sort of radio was banned by the SPS unless the leader gave prior approval. This left Jim Hinkley with Gary, to wrap his ankle and to try and help him down to Baxter Lake. After I caught them Mark & Terry descended to the flats above Baxter Lake where Mark called a Ham operator in Mammoth Lakes who relayed the call to Sequoia-Kings Canyon Park (where we were). The EMT rangers soon flew in by chopper & airlifted Gary out to the hospital at Bishop.
Mark & Terry went on to climb Diamond Pk, Jim and I packed out to the Oak Ck roadhead. Gary had car pooled with me so I drove up to Bishop to pick him and his cast up to drive back south to his car and his home in San Juan Capistrano.
This weekend made a real good case for carrying emergency radios on climbs as long as the ham operator lets the leader know and also avoids making frivolous social calls while near the party of climbers.
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