Monday, September 14, 2009

Sierra Trip Report - Part 2

...So Kathy and I drove to Bishop, CA early Monday morning to pick up our permit. I always like having a permit in my hand rather than hoping for a free walk in permit. Gee, they are only $5 per person. We then drove to Lake Sabrina, the trailhead for Hungry Packer Lake. Overnight parking is not allowed at the trailhead, so I had to park down the road about a third of a mile.

My backpack had to weigh in around 75 pounds, the heaviest I have carried. I had never carried food for two people while backpacking. My bear canister weighed around 15 pounds! Kathy was also hurting. Not so much from the weight, but from her backpack not fitting correctly. After some quick rearranging, we were off again and this time our packs felt lighter.

Hungry Packer Lake is a beautiful lake sitting at the base of Picture Peak in the Evolution Region of the Sierra. We set up camp and talked about the peaks we were going to climb the next day. We decided on Picture Peak and Clyde Spires. I had day hiked to Hungry Packer Lake last year with the intent on climbing Picture Peak, but it did not work out that way. I was determined to nail it this year.

Morning came too soon and we did not quite get as early as a start as I wanted. The route to Picture Peak climbs a ridge to the east of Hungry Packer Lake and provides great vistas. There are some very enticing gullies on the east face, but we knew we had to ascend a gully on the south face. Mistakes are costly in the Sierra.

The gully was mostly class 2 with decent rock, though there were a few spots where we had to be careful. We ascended to a notch, which offered a great view down the north face. The final climb to the summit looked very steep and exposed. I checked my GPS and it told me the peak was further east. I had been converted, finally. From now on I will use a GPS. I can hear Nick and others saying, "finally."

The peak offered great views (panorama) and was only a steep class 2 scramble. Kathy and I stayed there admiring the views and taking photos for close to 30 minutes before descending. We got down to the start of the chute in 20 minutes, but due to the late start, we decided to skip Clyde Spire and headed for our campsite.

The next morning we got an early start and planned to nail Mt. Haeckel and Mt. Wallace. We headed west passing Midnight Lake and into a basin below Mt.Darwin. We spotted a nasty looking notch with about 500 feet of scree and some snow guarding it. We decided to climb over the ridge instead of through the notch. The rock was loose, but the climbing was easy.

Once on the ridge we spotted the peak and decided to go for it. It had a gnarly looking summit block, but you never know if you can climb it until you get your hands on the rock. The walk along the ridge was great with some nice exposure.

It turned out the summit block was only a class 3 climb, but it was very small at the top, room for two people at the most. The peak was named by elevation only: Peak 12,800. We were only the second party in 10 years to climb the peak! After taking numerous photos, we headed over to Mt. Haeckel.
To be continued...