Mount Bolton Brown , Split Mountain
and Pyramid Peak

August 28 – September 2, 2005

By: Greg Gerlach

Sunday, August 28. I picked up John Fisanotti in La Crescenta on Sunday morning for the 200 mile or so drive to Lone Pine. We obtained our permit from the Mount Whitney Ranger Station, then drove to the Taboose Pass trailhead. John and I started hiking up the trail at 3:00 p.m. through the desert. The sun finally dipped below the Sierra crest after a couple of hours, which provided some relief from the heat. We found a convenient campsite next to a stream at around the 8,800’ elevation at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, August 29. John and I sleep in late, packed our gear and were on the trail by 8:40 a.m. We arrived at Taboose Pass at 11:40 a.m., descended to the John Muir Trail, then preceded north into Upper Basin. John and I found a nice campsite at 5:30 p.m. on the northwest side of Lake 11’600”, which is the large lake located west of the Split/Prater Col. 

Tuesday, August 30. We were hiking at 8:50 a.m. for the day’s peaks: Split Mountain for John and Bolton Brown for me. I headed north from Lake 11,600’ up the valley to the 13,200’ col located about 3/10 of a mile west of the peak. The route is class 1-2. From the col, I climbed up towards Bolton Brown, staying on the north side of the ridge.  I ran out of class 2 rock just below the summit and had to ascend about 30’ of high class 3 to reach the top. It took me 2 hours and 10 minutes to reach the summit from our campsite. Also, the register was placed in 1974, is ½ full and 6 other parties had reached the top this year. After signing the register, I descended the south side of the peak in the hope of finding a class 2 route. However, the down climbing involved a 30’ section of relatively easy class 3 climbing, which leads down to the southwest slope and class 2 terrain. I continued down the peak’s southwest slope to the valley, then to our campsite, arriving at 11:30 a.m. Meanwhile, John headed east from Lake 11,600’ to the Split/Prater Col, then up Split’s class 1 north slope. He reached the summit at 11:30 a.m. and had to sign a scrape piece of paper because the summit register was full. After spending about 45 minutes on top, John retraced his steps back to camp, arriving around 3:00 p.m. While on the climb, John saw 5 other climbers on the peak, which seemed like a lot of people for a Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 31. Since this was going to be an easy day, John and I took our time getting started. We finally got on the trail and were hiking towards Bench Lake at 9:30 a.m. We reached the lake at 2:30 p.m., found a secluded campsite on the far west end of the lake, then lounged and relaxed the rest of the day.
Thursday, September 1. John and I were up at 6:30 a.m. and hiking towards the day’s objective, Pyramid Peak, at 7:35 a.m.  We headed west and then south from Bench Lake towards Arrow Pass. From Lake 10,565+, which is shown as a marsh on the Mount Pinchot 7-½ minute topo, we angled up towards the 11’600’ high pass.  The route is miserable and tedious up to the pass because it involves loose scree, sand and large talus blocks. We topped out at the pass at 10:45a.m, then proceeded west down the other side before turning south towards upper Arrow Creek. The class 2 scree and talus gully that leads to Pyramid’s west ridge isn’t obvious until you are lower down in the valley. John and I climbed up a sand slope from north of Lake 10,500’, which has a small island in it, turned south along the base of the cliffs and continued up through the sand and scree gully to the peak’s west ridge. From the top of the gully, we climbed up the ridge towards the top. John dropped out about 700’ below the summit to save energy for the return trip back to camp.  I continued on towards the summit, arriving on top at 1:40 p.m. The entire route from Arrow Creek is mostly class 2 with some class 1 mixed in. I spent about 5 minutes reviewing the summit register, which was placed in 2001 and only 3 pages have signatures. Also, I was only the second person to make the top this year. After signing the register, I started down, met up with John, then we both descended to Arrow Creek. Camp seemed so very far away, but we plugged along and reached Arrow Pass at 5:00 p.m. and camp at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, September 2. John and I sleep in late, broke camp, then started hiking out at 8:45 a.m. We reached Taboose Pass at 10:45 a.m. and the car at about 3:00 p.m.

Trip statistics: 50 miles and about 15,000 feet of elevation gain.

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