Thursday, July 14, 2011

White Mountains Traverse

I have gotten pretty good at burning the candle at both ends, and this summer has been no exception. Hours after returning to the front-country from Blackcap Mountain, I packed up again and drove over to Bishop to head out on a traverse of the White Mountain Range, with the Sierra Mountain Center.

This is an incredible 5 day off-trail trip that goes from the ancient bristlecone forests (which date back over 4,600 years!), up the lush and tranquil Cottonwood Creek, over the 14,246ft. White Mountain, and continues on over miles of rolling alpine tundra though Chiatovich and Pellesier Flats towards Boundary Peak at the far end of the range.

Can you count the rings? This tree is thousands of years old.

The White Mountains are often overlooked despite their proximity to Bishop, perhaps due to the lack of exposed white granite which the Sierra Nevada is renown for, but the Whites have a wild and unique feel to them as you coast along wind swept high alpine meadows, pick up old pieces of obsidian and chert arrowheads, imagine the Indian hunting grounds of long ago and look across your shoulder at the entirety of the Sierra Range laid out beside you.

Looking up at the summit of White Mountain

Luke contemplates the Pellesier Flats. Or is wondering how long til dinner...

A pair of bighorn sheep make the traverse look easy.

After 4 days at altitude which slowed our pace, we made the decision to head down on the east side into Nevada and opt out of Bounday and Montgomery peaks to the north. Dropping close to 4,000ft of elevation in several hours was laborious, but it gave us the opportunity to really see the changes in ecosystems as we dropped down into the desert.

After another hot day in Bishop, I drove up to Mammoth Lakes to visit with my friend Mike, and we were able to climb the super classic North Arete on Crystal Crag. I head out to Mount Conness tomorrow for a quick last minute alpine fix before beginning another 22 day course for the Outward Bound School in Sequioa-Kings National Parks.

Hasta la vista Alpinistas!

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