Mount Genevra, Mount Jordan, Junction Peak, Midway Mountain, Milestone Mountain, Mount Stanford #1, Table Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Tyndall Peak
By: Igor Mamedalin
At last! After 3 scheduled attempts and their subsequent cancellations. I've finally succeeded in entering this remote area to claim 9 summits. This was a fortuitous year for climbing in this area: both Doug Mantle and Greg Roach led successful expeditions in weeks prior to our foray. Our party of six consisted of Igor, Suzanne and Tanya Mamedalin. Bruce and TernTurner and David Leth.Since this week-long trip was to be our only vacation for 1996. we decided to take it easy and hire mules to lug our packs and provisions over Shepherd Pass. After encountering some initial difficulty in finding an outfitter willing to haul our gear over the pass. we contracted the Berner's Pack Outfitters out of Bishop (they operate the Pine Creek and Sequoia/Kings pack stations) for the job. Four mules were required to do the job: two 50 lb. backpacks per mule to be hauled to the top of the pass and an additional mule to haul two 50 lb. duffel bags containing additional provisions to the Tyndall Creek Ranger Station. This was our first time dealing with mule packers and we did not know what to expect.Well. we were not disappointed. The show began at 4:30 AM as promised when a multi axle semi-truck hauling al least a dozen mules and horses lumbered noisily into the coral near the Symmes Creek trailhead. Of course, we could not sleep any longer and started the final packing and repacking of our gear in preparation for the mules. By 7 AM we parted with our gear and drove the additional mile to the hiker parking lot. The mule train (which included two other small parties headed for Anvil Camp) passed us at the saddle on the ridge between Symmes Creek and Shepherd Creek. With only daypacks on our backs, the Shepherd Pass trail proved to be a breeze! As a result of the work done by SPS volunteers in cooperation with the Forest Service, it is one of the better maintained trails in the Sierra (thanks to R.J. Secor. Fred Camphausen and many others who have toiled to make this into a first class trail).Upon reaching the pass around 4 PM we found four of the six packs intact by the little lake. Alarm set in. What happened to the other two packs? Who will be the lucky ones to spend the night without a sleeping bag at 12,000'? Did the missing packs get mistakenly dumped at Anvil Camp'' Should we go back to get them'! While we anxiously debated the alternatives. the pack train with a red faced packer returned with the two missing packs. He did not realize the mistake until he reached Tyndall Creek; however. he felt obliged to retrace the additional distance to re-unite us with the missing packs. We thanked him profusely and let him return to Tyndall Creek before sunset After this experience we can to appreciate the integrity of mule packers and recommend the Berner's Pack Outfitters (619-387-2797) highly.The rest of the trip went fairly routinely. On Saturday all of us climbed Junction Peak. Early Sunday morning three of us climbed Tyndall Peak before moving camp from Shepherd Pass to the little lake near the confluence of Milestone Creek and Kern River. That same day we also retrieved the two duffel bags of additional food that were stashed al the ranger station. Monday we climbed Milestone and Midway following the footsteps of Eve and Eva whom we met the previous day. Tuesday two of us climbed Table following the descriptions from numerous trip write ups. Wednesday we climbed Thunder as a storm front whipped through with cold winds and a bit of snow. Thursday we moved camp to an unnamed lake about a mile west of Lake South America. That same day two of us climbed Ericsson. Friday we climbed Jordan (the step across on Jordan proved to be the most exciting move made the whole week) and Genevra. Saturday morning homesickness set in and instead of Climbing Stanford as planned we pounded 23 miles back down to the trailhead. After reaching the cars by 10 PM utterly exhausted and dreaming of a night in a comfortable motel with showers, we discovered that there was not a room left that night in Lone Pine. So, we consoled ourselves with a dinner at PJ's (an all-night reliable standby) and spent the night on the desert floor off the Lone Pine Station Road. Sunday after breakfast in Olancha we all drove home satiated with a splendid week of the Sierra's best climbing.
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