Gemini, Seven Gables
By: Larry Tidball, Barbee Hoffmann
This trip was advertised as a "leisurely" 3 days to climb these two peaks. This was clarified in the trip sheet to make sure that no one thought this was to be a "leisure trip". but just a more reasonable schedule than some of the recent 2 day trips to these 2 peaks that have climbed the peaks and gotten back to the cars in the early hours of the morning.
We met at the Florence Lake Store at 8:00 AM on Friday to purchase our tickets for the ferry boat across the lake. There were more people on hand than the small boat would hold and the larger Sierra Queen was out of commission with a wiring problem. Some of us may have had to wait for the next boat at 10:30, except for some quick repairs on the Sierra Queen. So we all sailed on the Sierra Queen, a little late at 8:45, but still much better than the 4-1/2 mile walk around the lake if you don't take the ferry. On the ferry with our group were Doug Mantle and Joe Stephens headed to the Evolution Region. The ferry costs $10.00 round trip and runs every 2 hours starting at 8:30AM from the resort, and returns from the wilderness al 11:00, 1:00. 3:00 and 5:00PM.
After a lot of cancellations and no-shows we only had 6 people in our group for the backpack up the San Joaquin River and up over Seldon Pass. Joining us for the weekend were; Delores Holladay, John Dodds, Jim Fujimoto and Murray Zichlinski. The long drag up from the River and over the Seldon Pass always takes longer than it seems as it should, and we didn't arrive in camp until 5:00PM.
Our plan was to climb both peaks on Saturday, so we called for a 5:30AM departure from camp. Delores had already climbed Seven Gables and decided to meet us after we had descended from that peak. So five of us headed off for Seven Gables in the first light. We traversed along the east side of Marie Lake, paining elevation as we went and crossed the intervening ridge at about 10,900' and dropped into the Medley Lakes drainage. We crossed the chain-of-lakes. wading at a shallow spot a little up-stream from the inlet to Sandpiper Lake. From Sandpiper Lake, we ascended the class 2 West slope of Seven Gables. This slope ends at a saddle just north of the summit. From here we picked out a class 3 route up the west side of the final rocks to the summit arriving about 9:30.
We planned on descending the South slopes of the peak to head on over to Gemini. Jon Inskeep had led a CMC trip to Seven Gables on July Fourth and we used his report of their ascent of the South slope to help locate the correct descent on that side of the peak. The top of Seven Gables is a labyrinth of ridges, gullies and ribs. To reach the South slope, we descended the summit rocks on the west side till we reached a bivi site, and then traversed south on a 3rd class ledge to reach a knife edge saddle. The South slope starts on the opposite side of the bump forming the opposite side of the saddle. From this point our descent was on easy class 2 slopes with scree down lower. Near the bottom we began angling towards the East and in doing so had to work our way through some cliff bands. As we reached the bottom of the slope, we saw Delores approaching from below. John who did not want to climb Gemini agreed to wait for us at this point. As Delores joined us. we hiked the remaining short distance to the 12,000' saddle on the ridge separating us from Gemini. We had lunch at this saddle before ascending the boulder covered NW slope of Gemini.
Near the top of Gemini. we skirted a remnant snow patch to arrive at the summit rocks at 1:45PM. From the top we were treated to a great view including several Emblem Peaks: Lyell. Ritter. Abbot, Humphreys. Darwin. Goddard Clarence King, and Brewer. After descending the peak, we retraced our route across the 12,000' saddle, and descended the drainage towards the Medley Lake chain picking up John on the way. This drainage appears on the map to drop off rather precipitously. so we crossed a low ridge at 12,100' and descended to the outlet of the round lake at 11,120'+ SW of Seven Gables. From here it was easy to continue our descent to Medley Lake where we again waded across one of the narrow links in the chain. We re-crossed the intervening ridge to Marie Lake and arrived back at camp at 5:OOPM.
The next day we got away from camp at 7:30AM and made the longer that expected hike out to the ferry. The long flat stretch along the San Joaquin River takes a lot longer than you would think. Most of us made the 1:00PM ferry, but just by a minute. They wouldn't wait for the last 2 of our group to arrive, but promised to return in the speed boat right away to pick them up. Thus we all were safely back at the Florence Lake Resort and our cars by 2:00.
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