Black Hawk Mountain, Tower Peak
By: Greg Gerlach
Bob Wyka and I were on a scheduled SPS trip last year when Al Conrad mentioned that he did Tower and Black Hawk during a single four day trip. Bob and I decided that doing both peaks during the same trip was a great idea and therefore scheduled the peaks for this past August 8-11.
Bob and I drove up Highway 395 in two separate cars, leaving one at the Leavitt Meadows trailhead and the second at the Kennedy Meadows Resort. Bob rented a cabin for the night at the resort, but the noise made it hard to sleep.
We had a leisurely breakfast at the resort, and were on the trail by 8:30a.m. We motored up the trail, arriving at Lunch Meadow at 1:30p.m. The first couple of miles on the trail were dry and dusty due to the all of the packers. However, the upper trail was actually very pleasant. After dropping our packs at Lunch Meadows, Bob and I were on our way to Black Hawk by 1:45p.m. We got a little off route but corrected our mistake and arrived on top of the peak at 3:30p.m. After a few minutes on top of Black Hawk, we signed the summit register and started our descent. Bob and I did a standing glissade down a small valley filled with snow, finally running out of the white stuff at the 9200 foot elevation. The two of us arrived back at Lunch Meadows at 5:00. The next day Bob and I were on the trail by 8:15a.m. The trail took us through Summit Meadows, over Bond Pass and then over Dorothy Lake Pass to Ruth Lake, where we set up camp. We started for Tower at 12:15p.m. by ascending the obvious col southeast of Helen Lake. From the col, Bob and I dropped down about 200 feet and contoured over and up to the saddle located south of Tower Lake. From the saddle, we followed the standard route, staying 100 feet or so below the ridge to the easy class 3 staircase chute. We were on top at 4p.m., signed the summit register, and started our descent at 4:10p.m. The two of us were back at camp by 7p.m. with plenty of light still left to prepare dinner.
The next morning, Bob and I were on the trail at 8:10a.m. and arrived at the car located at Leavitt Meadows by 2:15p.m. We had originally scheduled four days for the trip, but managed to do it in only three days.
Trip statistics: 43 miles and I 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Overall, it was a very nice trip and an efficient way to climb the two peaks.
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