Thursday, May 29, 2014

Friendship and Fornication in the Palisades

Wait, that doesn't sound right.  No, definitely not.  Just read on and maybe it'll make sense.  Or not.  

Just yesterday I hiked out of the storied Palisades where I spent a week guiding a young man named Jackson who had such a tremendous amount of stoke and energy it felt like a personal pleasure trip most of the time!  

Jackson signed up for one of our Palisades Extended Mountain Camps, in which we cover rock skills, anchor building, ascend a rock route and then head up to the glacier to do snow skills and climb a mountain route such as Mount Sill.  He showed up wanting to soak up as much information as possible, climb as much as he could, and begin his summer of hiking and climbing with a big bang. 

Based for the first few days out of the amazing PSOM camp perched high above Third Lake, we went over many facets of rock climb skills at the nearby crag and then took those skills to Mount Robinson where we chose to climb one of the Palisade School of Mountaineering-named routes the Friendship and the Fornication Aretes.  Having already guided the Friendship a couple years ago, I thought it would be cool to climb the Fornication Arete and use it as a learning experience for Jackson as I would be onsight climbing it and relaying him all of my thought processes as to how read the route finding, etc.

After a successful summit of the East Summit of Robinson, we moved our camp up high to the edge of the Palisade Glacier and spent the rest of the day self arresting, learning advanced rope skills and snow anchors.  The next morning began with high winds; despite the protected tent ledge we were worried the lightweight Firstlight tent might be torn to shreds!  
Sleeping in another hour saw the winds die down a bit, enough to fire up a quick coffee and move out for our objective, the North Face of Mount Sill.  

Snow conditions were fantastic, as we were able to wear crampons from camp all the way to the summit ridge.  The traverse behind Apex Peak involved some pitched climbing through the mixed snow and rock, giving Jackson a bit of challenge.  

A couple hundred more feet of fun scrambling got us to the summit, which is called the best view in the Sierra.  I would be hard pressed to disagree!  
A couple of rappels and belayed down climbs later we were plunge stepping our way all the way back to Gayley Camp where we lounged like lizards in the afternoon warmth, as it was in the 70s up at 12,000 ft!  

We made short work of the 10 mile hike out the following day and said our goodbyes, and I drove home back to Mammoth feeling great about introducing another inspired young mountain enthusiast to our Sierra Nevada.


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