Mount Goode, Mount Agassiz

27-Aug-05

By: Ron Campbell


Doing Goode and Eating Well

The pine duff (also known as ďdirtĒ) nicely set off the linen tablecloth and brass candlesticks. The vintage wine, custom packaged in plastic bottles, complimented the smoked salmon blinis, marinated Portobello mushrooms and Godiva Belgian Chocolate ice cream.

Thatís the way it was at the Decadent Wilderness Weekend III. Oh, yes, and we climbed a couple of 13ers too.

Seven of us met at the South Lake parking lot shortly after 8 a.m. Saturday. The weather was sunny but not hot ó ideal hiking weather. We arrived at Bishop Lakes by 11 a.m., a full hour ahead of my pessimistic forecast.

I had originally planned to climb Mount Goode on Sunday, descend the southwest side, contour to Bishop Pass and then climb Mount Agassiz. After Tom McDonnell and Patrick McKusky both assured me that I was nuts, I privately crossed Agassiz off my plan.

But when we arrived at Bishop Lakes Goode was right there, calling to me. Right then, co-leader Georgette Rieck and I decided to climb Goode immediately, before dinner, and set aside Sunday for Agassiz.

From Bishop Lakes, Goode looks about a football field away. That turns out to be the wrong clich?: Itís more like a Rhode Island away. First, Bishop Lakes is the wrong starting point. You have to aim somewhat north of the peak to reach a sandy area above the first talus slope; the best way to get there is from Saddlerock Lake, just north and 100 vertical feet below the Bishop Lakes basin.

The climberís second decision is what to do after reaching the sandy area. You can take a diagonal toward the peak through a field of boulders ranging in size from microwaves to SUVs. That was my decision.

Or you can exercise the miraculous virtue of hindsight: Stick to the sandy area until you are directly below the summit; then head straight up through a well-worn talus field. All seven participants summitted Goode after a four-hour climb; we easily could have shaved 30 or even 60 minutes from that time by staying low longer.

Back in camp, it was time for the gourmet potluck. We spread an autumn-themed linen tablecloth on the ground, added the candlesticks and attempted to light the candles in the erratic wind.

Next we broke out the appetizers: smoked salmon on blinis (small buckwheat pancakes) with cream cheese, capers and, a heavenly touch, fresh dill; Kalamata olives; fresh shrimp with cocktail sauce; Portobello mushrooms and miniature plum tomatoes, marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic; and stuffed grape leaves.

Diners had a choice of three red wines, each tastefully packaged in Nalgene or Platypus bottles: Frei Brothers Petit Syrah (2003), Fat Bastard Merlot (2003) and Black Mountain Fat Cat Cabernet (2002). Georgette helpfully left the cork in her Fat Bastard. (And yes, that really is its name, and yes, itís French.)

We had two entree choices. Most diners chose, well, both. First off the mountaineering stove was capellini (angel hair pasta) in puttanesca sauce with goat cheese and freshly grated Parmesan. Next up: shrimp and rice with Mandarin oranges and almonds in a sesame ginger sauce.

For dessert, Georgette whipped out a surprise package, a 7-lb. cooler loaded with, oh, 6-1/2 lbs. of dry ice and two pints of ice cream ó Godiva Belgian Dark Chocolate and Santa Barbara Vanilla Bean. Diners drizzled their ice cream with Kahlua. The ice cream would have been outstanding by itself; with the Kahlua it was as blissful as the night sky. We toasted ourselves to bed at 9:30 p.m. after a suitably slow-paced dining experience. Any restaurant critic who could survive the hike would have given it four stars.

At 5:30 a.m. a few of us were awakened by a rockslide on Picture Puzzle Peak. At 6 a.m., I tried to arouse those who werenít disturbed by hundreds of tons of moving granite. Just three of us were awake, fed and ready to hike when we set out for Agassiz at 7:20 a.m.

We summitted Agassiz shortly after 11 a.m. The views were among the most spectacular I have ever seen in the Sierra. Just to the south, Sill, North Palisade and Thunderbolt seemed close enough to touch ó but you already know how poor a judge of distances I am. Tom and Humphreys dominated the horizon to the north. To the southwest we enjoyed a fine view of the Black Divide.

While taking in the scenery from the summit, we supped on roasted garlic and three cheese potato chips with leftover Kalamata olives.

The descent was extremely tedious. Iím sure there is a good route off Agassiz. I am equally certain that it was not the route we took.

A few hours later we returned to the parking lot, toasting a fine weekend with Sam Adams Summer Ale.

Participants were Lisa Buckley, Daryn Dodge, Marlen Mertz and recent WTC graduates Roger Behrens and Brandon Mosst.

My thanks to Georgette for her usual great colead, to Lisa for her help on Agassiz and to Daryn for carrying that heavy cooler of ice cream up and down Mount Goode without even once asking what was inside.


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