Tower Peak

September 23 – 25, 2005

By: John Cheslick

   This peak has been on my “to-do” list for at least the last three years.  There always seems to be a trip scheduled near the end of September but for one reason or another I can never make the trip.  I figured I would lead it this year and solve the problem.

We had a strong group of 12 people including the leaders at Leavitt Meadows trailhead at 8 am ready to go.  The trail actually starts in the campground next to the trailhead parking so you need to walk through the campsites to get to the trailhead.  I was concerned with the weather forecast for this trip.  Weather.com had a 40% chance of showers for both the second and third day of the trip Dinner at Tower Campbut the weather only got better once the trip started.  The first day was very windy, especially at Leavitt Meadows but the wind calmed down by the time we made it to camp.

We hiked for 8 ½ hours and made camp in a sheltered area below Tower Lake.  The group was ready to stop.  It was a bit difficult to find a site for 12 people especially when most of the group was going solo.  After a short while, we started happy hour.  I was amazed with the amount of food packed in.  It was a world class happy hour with cheese, wine, crackers, some unusual organic food and lots of chocolate to name a few of the items.  Alex Sapozhnihov after reading Patty’s write-up in the Echo about her fondest for chocolate brought 4 large Chocolate bars.  Even after three days of trying, we could not finish all the chocolate.  We were also able to have a campfire since there was an old fire ring close by and we were below 10,000 feet.  A rare treat in the Sierra.The Watchman Tower

The next morning we got started at 7:30 for the peak.  I wasn’t sure with such a large group how long it would take.  We followed the use trail up to Tower Lake, then went along the south side of the lake and then up to Tower Pass.  There was snow below the pass but it was easily avoided.  Then we climbed up to the North Ridge and once we were stopped by the rock towers, we traversed to the northwest face, then up the chute to the summit.  As most write-ups indicate, it is a class 2/easy class 3 scramble to the summit.  It took us three hours to get to the peak. 

We had a number of firsts on the summit.  For Wendy Miller and Mike Andrews, this was their first peak climbed with the SPS.  For Wendy, Mike, Stephanie Gylden, and Eric LaFleur, this was their first Mountaineer’s Peak.

We enjoyed the views and the chocolate for about 30 minutes and then headed down.  Susan Livingston couldn’t resist a qClimbing Tower Peakuick swim in the brisk water of Tower Lake on the way down.  It took us a leisurely 2 ½ hours to get back to camp but that included the swim and a lunch break.

We packed up and then hiked about a third of the way out and camped in Little Puite Meadows.  It took us about 2 hours from our first night’s camp to reach the meadow.  About half the group took a dip in the stream with varying degrees of grace.  Ted Tassop took the prize by actually swimming a couple of strokes in waist deep water.  Ted also displayed some serious blisters on his feet.  Both of his feet were bloody but he was a real trooper and was able to walk out the next day and didn’t even complain even though it looked like it would be painful walking.

The last day we also left camp at 7:30 and was back to the cars before 11:30.  Most of the group stopped at the Mobil station on the Tioga Pass road for a gourmet lunch.View of Climbers from summit of Tower Peak

The area around Tower Peak is spectacular.  The meadows must be amazing when the wildflowers are out.  We saw more wildlife than I usually see including sightings of deer, coyotes, snakes, frogs by Tower Lake and river otters near Roosevelt Lake.

I want to thank all the participants for a great trip and for Patty Rambert for assisting.  The participants excluding the people already mentioned above included Gary Schenk, Mary Ho Dungfelder and Alex Amies.

Photographs provided by John Cheslick. Click on images to see enlarged photographs.

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