Alta Peak, Mount Silliman
By: Rich Gnagy
This trip was led by the author and Greg Roach to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the SPS in 1955. Both of these peaks were led by the SPS in 1956, the first year in which peaks were led by the Section. I was on that climb of Alta led by Chuck Miller and assisted by Pat Meixner on June 30- July 1, 1956. It was led as a backpack with camp at Alta Meadows. Frank Bressel, assisted by Pat Meixner led Silliman as a backpack on Sept. 8-9, 1956. They camped at Twin Lakes.
Saturday morning ten of us met at Wolverton for the climb of Alta. After stashing all our excess food in the bear proof containers provided, we proceeded up the trail to the summit. After a leisurely stay on the summit and much discussion we decided to return to the cars by way of Pear Lake. We headed east: finding our way through and around the field of large boulders, then north down the drainage to Pear Lake which we passed on the east. There is some 3rd class going down and around the lake. but enjoyable. We hit the trail at the north end of Pear Lake and hiked past Emerald Lake, Aster Lake, and Heather Lake. Then, rather than going over Heather Gap we took the trail to the right past The Watchtower which most of us climbed and had fun bouldering on the various summits before returning to the cars. This whole loop trip was on trail except the stretch from the summit down to Pear Lake. I would recommend this loop trip to anyone who likes a little 3rd class.
After camping Saturday night at the Lodgepole campground, -we took the trail up Silliman Creek. We left the trail approximately where it crosses from the Lodgepole to the Mt. Silliman 7-1/2 minute map. This is just before the trail switches back to go up the ridge. There is a very good use trail which is not obvious where it leaves the trail to the right. but for the most part is easy to follow up the right side of Silliman Creek past Silliman Meadows. The route follows the creek up granite slabs, past Silliman Lake. past the small lake above, and then north up the ridge to the summit.
We had beautiful early fall weather both days. Those who climbed both peaks in addition to the leaders were Mirna Roach. Dan Richter. Bob Bruley .and Boris and Camille Nahlovskyú. Those climbing Alta only were Pete Yamagata, Steve Bruley, and Stanislaus Horn. Those Climbing Silliman only were Bob Wyka. Peter Christian. John Dodds. and Asher Waxman.
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