It has been a little while since plugging in any updates or trip reports, mainly because I haven't had a free moment since around June! The fall guiding season on the Eastside was pretty heavy, with a lot of time spent going up and down the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek to access Mt. Whitney and Mt. Russell. But in late August, what seems like an eternity ago now, I had a precious few days of R&R which I spent bolt clipping in Mammoth, hot-tubbing in the Owens Valley, and convincing my friend Mateo to come over and sink some front-points into the North Couloir on North Peak.
North Peak has really easy access compared to everything else in the Sierra, which is good, because we met early, and I only had time to drink one cup of coffee. The approach is mellow, winding around Saddlebag Lake and then cuts a beeline through the 20 Lakes Basin. Kinda pretty.
Then you get to the couloir and you are stoked! Tools? Check. Crampons? Check. Bluebird sky and sun on your back? Double check. This ain't ice climbing in winter folks. No need for a thermos of cocoa or triple puffy parkas.
The climb itself is about 800 feet long and around 45-50 degrees, of which we pitched out the initial bergschrund zone and simul-climbed the remainder.
A little rock scramble puts you on the top, and voila! Killer views for as far as the eyes can see.
It's too bad that after climbing such a bitchin' little couloir you can't end it with a romp up one of the finest alpine ridge runs in the Sierra...
Mateo, posing down hard.
Wait! You can! Immediately after decending from North Peak, you have 2 options: Go down, and slog your way back to the car like some fool, or continue up along the ridge to climb the North Ridge on Mt. Conness (5.6). If you choose option 1, God help you.
The North Ridge is a mellow, cruiser outing on bullet granite, with a couple fun downclimbs thown in to spice things up a bit.
Moving quickly through this varied terrain on such a gorgeous day is THE reason I climb mountains.
We got back down to the car at Saddlebag in the afternoon, and Mateo had to jet so that he could go continue working on his Master's Thesis on why youth need to reconnect with nature for health and well-being. I think we discoved the answers.
A couple days later I was waking up at the Shepard Hot Springs outside of Mammoth and was lucky enough to take some shots of a hot air ballooninst taking off on an Eastside scenic flight. Pretty cool place to drink your morning coffee.
For now, over and out. Ryan.