Mount Goethe, Pilot Knob #2

8-Aug-97

By: Pete Yamagata


Jim Adler (assistant), Kathy Price, Bob Wvka, Barry Holchin, and Penelope May met me at the North Lake parking lot at 7:30 a.m. Friday for my first regular SPS lead. There had been some electrical activity the day before, prompting me to make sure everyone understood waiver policy and the lightning hazard before we took off, even though we were all I-rated leaders. Also, in the latest Mammoth Times, an article announced new, stricter food storage (bear) policy in the Inyo National Forest as of July 25. So everyone was advised.

We started out at 8:20 a.m. and, as we reached Loch Leven Lake. we heard thunder and got light ram. We had quite the delay and discussion of alternatives. and I offered to lead a private trip to day climb peaks in the area if the weather improved (or didn't improve).

Continuing on, we went over Piute Pass and arrived at Summit Lake, our base camp, by 1:15 p.m. There is a nice sandy flat area along the trail 500' north of the lake outlet. Bob was anxious to get climbing, so after a discussion of sign-out policy (could he sign back in when he returned?), he left us shortly to go for Pilot Knob #2. The rest of us enjoyed the clearing weather, and Barry and I took a short hike to Muriel Lake to reconnoiter a route. There was a big boulder near camp that required an apparently difficult, class 5 move to climb, so we kept extra food and garbage atop it, thanks mainly to Jim. There were no sufficiently high trees to hang food. Owen Maloy had loaned me his bear-resistant canister.

Bob returned at about 4 p.m. complaining about hurting his leg, and decided to pack out.

Saturday morning, we left camp at 6:40 a.m. to pass the right (west) side of Muriel Lake, and climbed up a short distance to the lower Goethe Lake. R. J. says to take the western side, but we couldn't see anything wrong with the shorter eastern side, so that was the way we went, without difficulty. Passing the outlet of the larger, upper Goethe Lake, we decided to rock-hop upward left over the talus toward Alpine Col. I made use of snowfields to facilitate travel, and we arrived at the Col. by about 10 a.m. The view of Darwin/ Mendel was dramatic, with the fast-moving clouds and stormy light. Deciding to continue, we connected our descent route with sandy, faint, broken use trail to Lake 11,840'+, which had many beautiful ice floes. Traversing around the right (west) side of this lake, we faced a small hazard kick-stepping above the lake on 10-25 degree snowfields, with an icy plunge resultant from any failure to arrest oneself with finger grabs, giving me slight worry with my Nikon gear (I was once told a "drop or a dunk" effectively means the end of your camera). We made it to the far side of the lake, and rested, with the weather holding. Climbing upward, we traversed west and into the wide scree gully which was partially filled with snow. We climbed up, then went left to the summit. I kept the group together, and we summitted at 12:45 p.m.

Fast moving clouds made an awesome view, with excellent photographic opportunity. We took many photos with the interesting light. I took portraitures utilizing Emblem peaks as backdrop. Using a flash unit really helps with the pictures at close range. After. 50 minutes we headed down, getting back to the bottom after 30 minutes.

We traversed back along the shoreline snowfields of Lake 11,840'+, which had softened up a little, then climbed the 400' back over Alpine Col. I headed more directly down back to upper Goethe Lake to kick steps in one small lakeshore snowfield, which was passed over its top by the others. We slowly took our lakes route back and were in camp by 6:30 p.m.

Sunday, Kathy joined us for our 6:45 a.m. departure for Pilot Knob. We took the trail for about a mile, then beelined for the peak. We staved at about the 11,200' contour line. Passing Tomahawk Lake on its north side, taking slight gain and loss into the upper Knob Lake drainage before climbing to the saddle to the east of the summit. We talked with three persons who were descending. Heading up the ridge, we followed sandy spots on the left, then climbed nght up steep talus to the summit ridge. The further outcrop had the cemented-in aluminum box and the highpoint. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the temperatures were cool and very nice. We stayed about 40 minutes, and headed back to camp about the same way. 1 noticed thick, green algae in some of the lakes and streams here, as a sign at the trailhead announced a study was being done with tiles placed in the water to determine Growth.ˇPerhaps nitrogen is getting into High Sierra lakes from wind-borne pollution?

Over Piute Pass at 4:45 p.m., we had a 2.5 hour pack back to the cars. This was about a 28 mile, 7,500`gain tnp inspired and informed by a 1979 Echo write-up ofa SPS trip. I met some participants from that trip while doing Humphreys with a Mother Lode Chapter (Sacramento) group. Thanks to everyone for a successful, enjoyable weekend!


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