Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service – Bishop, CA

Clarence King, Mt Cotter and Mt Gardiner with Linda Emerson 7.2012

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This is the eight trip that Linda and SP have done as Linda works her way to completing all of the Sierra Peaks list. We intended to do this trip two years ago and then last year, but things got in the way. The third time was however a charm and went just perfectly with no fuss and no drama. Just what a guide wants.

We were slated to go in on Monday using the services of Pine Creek Pack station, but that day was stormy and unsettled so we delayed a day – much to the joy of Cricket, the packer, who had just come out from a big storm in French Canyon. We were on the trail early and made short work of the 11.5 miles over to beautiful Rae Lakes. Here we waited for Cricket to show with our packs. He finally arrived tired and sore with his horse Leroy limping after cutting a fetlock on the descent from Glenn Pass.

So we shouldered the packs for just an hour over into Sixty Lakes Basin and set up camp just as two Bighorn Sheep rams crossed the ridge behind us. They had no fear and not a lot of curiosity about us. Too many other more important things to do.

Next day we set off about 6.30 to Clarence King. This was about a 10.5 hour day up the southwest side and back the same way. First climbed by Bolton Brown in 1896 and at that time was probably the hardest climb in North America with a 5.4 summit block. The summit is a superb gently sloping block with spectacular drops all around.

Day three was a similar get up when you wake up day and we headed over to Mount Gardiner. From CK the approach looked like ugly talus but it turned out to be pretty solid and the NE gave delightful scrambling. The last 300 feet to the summit is a genuine knife edge and once again we used the rope for security. Back down the same way we went and took a high line back to Sixty Lakes Pass and along the way discovered a superb wall of clean grey granite studded with black chickenheads allover. A flat ledge at the base completed the perfection. If only it was not two days to get here….

Day four we headed to the closest peak, Cotter. This also turned out to be a perfect scramble on great rock.The only fly in the ointment was that someone had stolen the summit register. This is now an issue on lots of Sierra Peaks. Proponents of  it claim it is litter or they are stolen for historical value. These registers are a link to the past and those who have gone before and are the history of our climbing community and brethren. When Linda and I climbed Black Kaweah one of the rewards was to see Norman Clyde’s entry alongside that of Walter Starr junior written in his own blood. Now it is stolen from everyone. Leave them there. They belong on the peaks not in a basement.

We were back in camp before 11.00am so we decided to start on out again over Glenn and Kearsarge Passes. We spent the night under whitebark pines and a bright half moon just shy of Kearsarge Pass and were down in time for breakfast at Jenny’s cafe in Independence.

All in all this was a perfect trip.Not a breath of wind for five days, clear perfect nights and day under the peerless cobalt skies of California. The clear green lakes and gleaming white granite. What else does anyone ever want?

 

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Written by SP Parker

July 30, 2012 at 12:28 am

Posted in Alpine Climbing

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