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Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

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Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:17 pm

Well... I do believe it is finally time to start posting the 2015 trip report! I know I'm really lagging compared to last year's but I've finally finished typing up the first week of my journal. I keep a journal out there that I type up when I get back and here I am about 5 months later finally getting to typing it all up. I was pretty busy finishing up my Bachelors at Berkeley this past semester. Finally... all done with that! Now I'm back in Tahoe living in the beautiful Sierra just like I'm supposed to :) . Anyways.. back to this TR. This was my second year with Rouge and it was one hell of a year. For the most part.. less crazy and intense than 2014 but that's because we didn't go through the bloody Enchanted Gorge again! The adventure started on the 2nd of July for me. Some neighbors drove me down to Sacramento where I stayed at some friend's house all day waiting for my Amtrak the next day. I watched Back to the Future all day since that was what was on TV and I figured might as well get a little move time in considering I won't be seeing another TV for a month and half! The following day I woke up very early to catch my Amtrak to Fresno. And that's where the fun began..

So as a synopsis. Rogue and I met up that day (July 3rd) and we both barely made it to VVR. From there we officially started our trek on the 5th of July of out Florence Lake. We headed up to the lakes on the West Side of Mt. Hooper. From there we traveled to Humphrey's Basin and then cross country through Darwin Bench before heading into Ionian Basin. From there we crossed over several passes to get to Ladder Lake. After that jaunt we made our way to South Lake to Parcher's Resort. From Parcher's we went back across Bishop Pass and a grand loop of the Palisades ending up at Parcher's about 12 days later. The next section took us back to Lake 10,565 and Island Bird Lake. After climbing numerous unnamed peaks we then took the Sierra High Route to the Kid Lakes. After that we ended up at Cedar Grove only to be evacuated out due to the Rough Fire. We hitched our way to Lodgepole where the trip soon came to a close for me. Rogue went on to do another 2 week section around there. On August 19th I was picked up by long time friend (my 4th grade teacher) and then we road tripped up back to Tahoe detouring into Yosemite. So without further delay... Here's Week 1!

Day 1- July 3- Sacramento to VVR
The adventure begins in Fresno or technically on the Amtrak somewhere North of there. Rogue messages me & says his car is overheating. I’m like Oh ****! This is perfect. Just what I wanted to hear. I now have the horrible visions of me being stuck in Fresno with nowhere to stay and no way to get to VVR. This was a perfect start to a Trial Report for sure. Eventually I got to the station & I sit & wait for better news. Soon, Rogue calls me & says the radiator was completely empty & that he refilled it. We may be able to make it just yet. So I hoped that all would be well & after 20-30 minutes of reading about the Pythagorean's I got a call from him saying he was there. His car as overheating again but we could tell if was an issue of just putting in more coolant each time it ran out. This time he didn’t wait long enough for it to cool & we had an explosion of coolant out of the radiator like a volcano. We decided to try & make it up to VVR. We knew it would be a challenge but as long as we had coolant we figured we could do it. We had to stop 3 times before reaching VVR & repeat the procedure of cool off & top off on coolant. It was fairly hot but not excessive. Once we went over Kaiser Pass (9000+) we knew we could make it. Finally in the cool mountains in the forest. God.. It felt so good to be out of the valley & finally on this trip. We just barely made it to VVR for dinner b/c of some very inconsiderate driver that wouldn’t let anyone pass. VVR was as wonderful as last year w/terrific food & great stories between all the hikers. We definitely slept well that night.

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My entire life for the next 50 something days.

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Lovely radiator issues.


Day 2- July 4- At VVR
Today we went to take care of our permit after enjoying a delicious burger for lunch. Securing the permit went smoothly & we were back to VVR. The rain was off & on to the station but it was mostly clear after. We feasted our last glorious dinner on the famous VVR BBQ which is needless to say legendary. Even better ribs than Roy’s last year which was no doubt a feat. We were treated to an astounding sunset with color that was unimaginable & some thunderstorms that were going off in the Mono Creek area. Unfortunately the lake was quite low again but higher than last year. We slept soundly once more. It was our last night amid this many people for a very long time.

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VVR Sky putting on a show


Day 3- July 5- Florence Lake to Harvey Lake
Today was finally the start of the trip! The day had finally come to embark on an epic journey. What lay before we knew was going to be hard, rough, challenging, sweat-breaking, but undeniably glorious and full of adventure! We were woken by the hilarious sound of a girl directly next to us in her tent yelling… “Ahhh! How the **** did you get in here?!” She had the lovely squirrel as her guest that morning. We enjoyed a good breakfast burrito with some other hiker. It was a sad goodbye at VVR as we knew we would not be returning. All of that delicious & glorious food would have to wait till next year. We made our way to Florence, parked the car & started out on the OHV road somewhere around 10, which wasn’t too bad, but it was hot enough. We immediately had to ford the creek which was actually quite refreshing as we had miles upon miles of uphill with close to 4000 FT of gain. Soon we reached the trailhead & the uphill monotony began. We were able to follow a trail practically the entire way. With 14 days of food and it being the first day with an excessive amount of climbing we were hurting bad. The trail was steep in many spots & constantly uphill. I had suffered my first gear failure that day... One of my socks formed a hole and I tried to get rid of the thread I made the hole even bigger! We eventually leveled out and enjoyed the view of the Infant Buttes. The trail followed up to the drainage of the lakes on the west side of Mt. Hooper. The plan was to camp at Hooper Lake which was over 10,500 FT, but when we reached the first lake we knew we were definitely done for the day. It was over 9000 FT so we did at least 3000 FT of gain through the heat. Harvey Lake was pretty and quickly we set up camp & were surprised to see people there as a guy came through our camp saying he was scouting for hunting season. We even saw several fisherman on our way up that day hiked to the lakes. We thought the area was more remote but apparently not. We gathered up firewood & had what we thought was going to be the last good fire on the section & for a very long time. We quickly ate dinner & realized tomorrow would be very trying as the plan was to climb Mt. Hooper with our full packs. The mosquitoes were present but surprisingly not horrible. Soon we went to sleep among talk of virtual realities.

Day 4- July 6- Harvey Lake to Lake 10,900 FT (Senger Lake)
On Day 4 we resumed our climb up the drainage which was now a cross country trek. We passed several pretty lakes including Hooper & after studying the hideous routes up Hooper we decided to not climb it & take our chances up the North ridge. Soon after I fell & suffered some nasty road rash on my knee which over half a year later is still a visible scar mark. We soon made our way up to the saddle point on the North ridge. The climb was straightforward although toward the top it was completely technical class 3. We surmounted the saddle & I christened it Hooper Pass! The North ride was right there with only 700 FT of climbing but we were defeated to see it looked difficult & potentially Class 5 at the summit. Thus, we skipped our first peak. The view though across was superb. All the way to Humphrey’s & everything in between including 7 Gables, Gemini, Senger, Gabb, Hilgard & more. What a feeling to know you climbed many of those peaks. I managed to get some reception on the pass and checked the radar & weather forecast. Thunderstorms were going off all across the Sierra & we could see Humphrey’s Basin getting it’s fair share of bolts right then. But the forecast called for something more interesting…Snow! In July…What the hell! It was supposed to mostly come in the day we were supposed to climb Humphrey’s. Prospects were not looking good but we had no choice so we knew we would press on. We made our way down some technical Class 3 slabs & eventually off the pass. Looking up at Hooper’s summit block made me annoyed that we didn’t climb it. I shall have to return. We made our way further down to our lake which was directly above & to the West of Selden Pass. Skies were getting ominous but we found a camp soon enough. A very pretty lake with nice views all around. It sprinkled some for a while but we never had anything major. We could see the storm going up to Lake Italy just like last year when we weathered 3 full days of intense storms there. It clouded over at night & then cleared up. The mosquitoes were once again fairly tame which was incredibly surprising.

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Pretty Neil Lake

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Hooper Pass

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North Ridge of Mt. Hooper. Spicy Class 5 awaits

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The view from Hooper Pass was phenomenal

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Gorgeous light on Senger Lake

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Now that's a sunset


Day 5- July 7- Senger Lake to Blayney Hot Springs
Today our our objective lay with climbing Mt. Senger & dropping down to Blayney & meeting up with our friend Derek. We got a decently early start & made our way down a steep chute to the JMT about 200 FT below the pass. We made short order of the pass & began the trek up Senger. We encountered lots of large & annoying talus with steep granite slabs. It was certainly not a Class 2 let alone a Class 2 walk up. Another lovely description by Secor it was quite untrue. We did some Class 3 to avoid more large talus & eventually gained the horribly sandy and loose slope to the saddle. I pushed on and reached it with Rogue 10 minutes behind. We finally made the last talus push to the summit. An excellent view we had from the summit overlooking the lovely area we were in last year. We were the first ones on the summit this year. We saw Derek’s entry from last year & saw that his route didn’t look fun at all. We made our way down soon enough & traversed the remaining snowfields all the way down and ended up in major Class 3 boulder fields. It was a long way down & we finally made our way up the pass & back to our packs for a very late lunch. While on the summit I checked the forecast again and saw that the snow was coming but from a Pacific Storm from the Gulf of Alaska!! Oh man… I knew this would be something. To have a storm like this in July was beyond my wildest imagination. I'm a weather junkie... I've been studying meteorology and climate for over a decade and that's what I finished my degree in at Berkeley. The lows were forecasted to be below 32 & around 28 in Humphrey’s. It would be a true test of will. But for now we were back on the trail (JMT) grinding our way downhill to Blayney which was a long way’s down. Senger was at 12,200+ & Blayney at 7,700 so that was an almost 5000 FT drop in one day. At least the pack was slightly lighter & the shoulders more accustomed to it. Storm clouds built all day but didn’t amount to anything for us as everything was clearing out by the time we got to Blayney. The trudge down was long as we got there around 6:30-7. At least I wasn’t in as much pain as when I did it with my friend 3 years before when my shoes broke down. We looked for Derek but to no avail as he was not there. We figured he would show up later in the night. We found us a spot where I fumbled with my tent for far too long because I was just so dead beat tired. Eventually we had dinner which was an incredibly satisfying Mac & Cheese with a Tuna Packet I got out of VVR. Rogue said he was going to the Hot Springs & I somewhat reluctantly agreed to join him as I knew crossing the river would not be fun again in the dark the 2nd year in a row. It was uncomfortable but manageable & the reward was definitely worth it. Soaking the tired and sore feet in the hot spring was heavenly. We met a PCT’er that was camped directly there at the spring from Belgium who had very little gear. He didn't even have a sleeping bag! We told him about the snow so he got a fair warning. We made our way back as it was quite dark now & still no sign of Derek. Just as were about to head to sleep we saw a backpacker with a red light come into the area. We thought it might be Derek but because we were so tired we didn’t even yell out to him. That would prove to be a funny mistake.

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A view I've seen multiple times now looking into the heart of the Mono Divide amid the ever present storms!
Last edited by alpinemike on Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:21 pm

Day 6- July 8- Blayney Hot Springs to Hutchinson Meadow
This morning we did 1 final sweep and found no Derek so we pressed on. The destination was the lowest Humphrey’s Lakes at 11,700 FT all the way on the East Side & we were technically on the West side of the Sierra. This would be a gain of 4000+ FT through the hot Piute Canyon. Our outlook was not good for getting there as the gain was practically to Muir Pass in less than 15 miles! But we pushed on through the horrible heat in Piute until lunch rolled around. There we were able to get a nice cool feet soaking in the creek. It was here where I dropped my .9 ND filter. Oh well… I certainly could have dropped worse things. We pressed on further to bleaker & stormy skies until we reached Hutchinson Meadow. It was mid-afternoon & we were most definitely done for the day. Rogue figured we could stop here and travel to Humphrey’s tomorrow for the weather wasn’t good to climb the peak & Derek wasn’t with us. We would just dismiss the layover day at the lake below Charybdis or layover at Humphrey’s if we couldn’t climb the peak 2 days later. And so we found a nice camp not far from a creek & started a nice fire which we didn’t think we were going to have again on this section. Soon, it began to rain quite hard. It rained off & on all through dinner with rumbles of thunder & lightning. We were now in it. On the side of the Sierra & area where all the storms seem to go down. Tomorrow would bring some crazy weather indeed & we would most definitely be in it. Surprisingly once again the mosquitoes were not horrible especially in the meadow which was extremely nice. Tomorrow we would make it into Humphrey’s.

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Lovely Piute Creek tumbles down amid the storm of storms waiting to let loose.


Day 7- July 9- Hutchinson Meadow to Lowest Humphrey's Lake (11,820 FT)
What an epic day this was. It first started with rain as we crossed various branches of creeks. The rain soon let up and we saw fresh snow on the peaks around Glacier Divide! It as July 9th & the storm truly did what was forecasted. In no time at all we realized it was cold enough to snow & it sure as hell did. Right on top of us fresh powder was falling. And then came a large Boom!! Thundersnow had arrived. What a scene it was to be walking through Humphrey’s Basin in a thundersnowstorn on July 9th. That's right.. Not just a thunderstorm.. But a thundersnowstorm!! I was elated... For the weather Gods truly wanted to give us a real show. The snow was falling hard & fast when we stopped for lunch in a thicket of trees. Navigation soon after was by GPS because we were in complete whiteout conditions. My shoes were soaked quickly as we tromped through the snow among glimpses of a very snow-clad Humphrey’s. We made the final push to the lowest lake where we were supposed to camp as the storm seemed to be breaking up. We had majestic views all around especially with mighty Mt. Humphrey’s shrouded in clouds. As we were searching for suitable camp-spots I spotted a tent high up above the lake on the far end & I immediately knew it was Derek. The tent looked right. And sure enough as we got up there & said “Hello” it was Derek! We found out that he was that hiker with the red headlamp back at Blayney 2 days ago. He left there earlier than us & pressed on all the way to the lake in 1 horribly long miserable day. He said the thunderstorms were absolutely crazy the day/night before as we thought. We moved camp lower down to the lake where we soon ate dinner amid another round of snow coming in. It was an extremely cold night at around 28oF. Our prospects of climbing Humphrey's were not looking good as the snow was coming in again and Humphrey's was already snow and ice clad. Alas.. The following day would likely prove to be a layover day.

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Rogue...Tell us how you feel about this situation haha

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Snow clad Glacier Divide!

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Our cold and soon to be snowy camp at Humphrey's Lakes

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Mighty Humphrey's clad in snow and ice on July 9th!


So ends the adventures of the first week! Stay tuned for the rest of them.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby maverick » Mon Jan 18, 2016 5:26 pm

Well... I do believe it is finally time to starting posting the 2015 trip report! I know I'm really lagging compared to last year's but I've finally finished typing up the first week of my journal.


No such thing as a late TR Mike. ;)

I was pretty busy finishing up my Bachelors at Berkeley this past semester. Finally... all done with that!


Congratulations Mike!
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby balzaccom » Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:47 pm

Great Stuff. Keep 'em coming, Rogue. We sat out July 9 & 10 last year because of the weather. We were in Fourth Recess on the 5-6-7, and then beat feet out of there. We only went back in on the 12th. I think it was the 9th that people in around Darwin got hammered by quarter sized hail...
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby RoguePhotonic » Tue Jan 19, 2016 9:30 pm

There was a moment while crossing the tundra of Humphrey's Basin in a white out with my hands freezing following my gps signal that I was a bit worried. But we still did fine.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby edhyatt » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:48 am

Looking forward to seeing the rest :D
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby Jason » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:11 am

Nice! I enjoyed reading that. Looking forward to more.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:44 pm

Alrighty... Here's Week 2!

Day 8- July 10- Layover at Humphrey's Lakes
We all knew Humphrey’s wasn’t happening today so it became a layover day for Rogue & I. Derek went to climb 4 Gables. I was hopeful to dry my shoes & socks out while Rogue could charge his camera batteries. Through a very mixed cloud/w sunny day we managed to achieve that. It snowed again that day but afterwards the sunset was something to dream about. An incredible sight of snow on Humphrey’s in July w/clouds wrapped around it. This would turn out to be the single best sunset of the entire trip. It is without doubt one of the greatest sights I've ever seen in all my years roaming the Sierra.

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I don't think I need to say much here.. Just look in awe.


Day 9- July 11- Humphrey's Lakes to lowest Darwin Bench Lake
While the previous night was cold it was only 32oF this time. We woke to clear, sunny, but cool skies & traversed to Piute Pass. From there we went towards Alpine Col which was right below the impossibly blue Goethe Lakes. The Goethe Lakes were a sight to see with their amazing hue and the incredible cirque they were tucked away in. The talus was as predicted quite annoying & cumbersome. We had lunch directly below the pass and started up the nasty enormous boulders. They were big but mostly stable and after much toil we found ourselves at the top. For whatever reason I was very tired, worn out, yet we still had a good long ways down to the last Darin Bench lake. The other side of the pass was steep but much easier & soon we were traversing around the large lake below the pass. The weather was once again growing more ominous and by the time we made it to the next lake it started drizzling. I then see Derek, who we though was way in front of us, behind us coming down the slope. He takes a fall and brushes up his shoulder & leg but fortunately nothing serious. We have our last lake to go around which was annoying since we had to climb up shelves above it just to go around. But soon we are tromping down a grassy slope to our lake which had very nice camping with awesome views across Evolution Valley to The Hermit & Emerald Peak. It starts to rain on us almost as soon as I try to cook dinner so for the 3rd night in a row we are eating inside our tents. I discovered that my backpack had bloody holes again at the bottom where the bear canister sits. This is the 2nd year in a row I was having problems with a new Gossamer Gear Pack. It looks like this year I'll be trying out the Z-Packs ArcHaul. I patched it up best I could. Since Derek & his friend Larry will be joining us for a couple days on the Palisades section we can now get a ride to Bishop to get some food and hopefully I could patch my pack properly at a tailor. I’m also planning on buying new socks and unfortunately new shoes because my Scarpa’s don’t look like they will last 2 full sections. Once again shoes that don't last longer than a couple weeks... Practically impossible to find good shoes for out there that can withstand all the terrain we put them through. Anyways, after the rain we were treated to another fine sunset. This turned out to be one of the better sunsets of the trip again. There was gorgeous lighting through the clouds all across the horizon toward the West. I thoroughly enjoyed the Darwin Bench area and knew that I would have to return for some more exploration up Darwin Canyon. That day I was having stomach pain, I would have to monitor that.

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A gorgeous Mt. Humphrey's amid morning light.

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Muriel Lake really is majestic amid this stunning backdrop.

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Goethe Lake truly is a gem tucked away in the heart of the Sierra.

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Look at that impossible blue color of Goethe Lake with Alpine Col lurking in the background.

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Definitely a stark scene on the South side of Alpine Col.

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The Darwin Bench Lakes were spectacular amid these ominous and foreboding skies.

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Our first view into Evolution Valley above our Darwin Bench Lake.

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Definitely an epic place to camp.

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It's no wonder I love the weather when you get displays like this!
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:57 pm

Day 10- July 12- Darwin Bench to Charybdis Lake
That night was also quite cold & around 36oF. That would make it 4 nights in a row of considerably colder than average weather. July was having fun with us. Today we made our way over Muir & Black Giant Passes to Charybdis Lake. The day dawned clear but soon turned cloudy and cold again. Another day of cold weather for us. We quickly got to the Muir Trial & started South to the Pass. Surprisingly, once again the mosquitoes were not a problem which was incredible at this elevation and this time of year. I’m fairly certain the snow & severe cold killed them all off, which I have no complaints about. I'd rather it be a little cool then deal with those nasty buggers. The day grew a bit sunnier as we approached Muir Pass. Derek was way ahead of us in anticipation to climb Charybdis since we were behind schedule 1 day. At the pass we enjoyed a nice break and chatted with fellow hikers, but soon we were back on loose talus making our way into Ionian over Black Giant Pass. Another year and another trip into Ionian. This was the 4th year in a row for Rogue. Finally the weather was fairly decent with not too many clouds I could finally bathe & do laundry. I had done neither since the start of the trip either due to horrible freezing cold or rain/snow. It was something like 12 days since I had a shower! I was definitely happy to bathe even though the water was completely freezing. I basically bathed in a snow melt pond..I figured since it was shallow it would warmer than the lake. I'm pretty sure I was quite wrong. But alas, to be clean again was a fantastic feeling. Derek pitched his tent on the opposite side of the lake compared to where Rogue thought there was camping but we made do. The view was sublime across the lake with hulking Charybdis presiding over his domain. It is definitely an unforgettable lake that has the feeling of superior remoteness and the truly epic grandeur that the High Sierra is known for. The evening turned cloudy and cool again but finally warmer than the previous several days. We cooked dinner once again in our vestibules of which I have been very thankful for having one. Last year I somehow made it work without a vestibule but not anymore and I learned my lesson no doubt. We saw Derek on the summit and it was already after 6 so we knew he wouldn’t be down for a while. Eventually he returned & we enjoyed a nice sunset as he told us about climbing down some nasty snow chute that you could see from camp. Rogue and I were fairly certain he wasn’t on the correct route. The night wasn’t too cold but still on the cool side.

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Evolution Valley, as many say is quite glorious.

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A pano of Sapphire Lake. This was the best I could stitch it without cutting off too much.

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The famous Muir Hut still stands after being battered by storms in the summer with hellacious downpours and tens of feet of snow that get delivered by winter storms.

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The prime resident of the hut is ready to steal something! Something tasty I'm sure...

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Charybdis Lake is one of a kind with a setting like this. The hulking Charybdis presides over the domain in the most noble fashion.

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Rogue & Derek enjoying the sunset amid the Gods of Rock!


Day 11- July 13- Climb Charybdis
Today we bade Derek goodbye & planned for his arrival on our layover day at Parchers on the 19th. Today, Rouge & I climbed Charybdis and enjoyed the marvelous view from the top. It was good Class 3 climbing at the top and we found the cut across point both on the uphill & downhill. There was one Class 4 move across a face that sketched me out a lot on the downclimb. It turned out to be fairly straightforward but was the hardest downclimb I had done thus far. My stomach problems for the most part seemed to have disappeared, which was definitely nice to know. My hands though definitely looked a bit burnt from the day's outing so I’m getting the classic hiker hand. We had a nice dinner & I finished the Apology by Plato before bed. Earlier at Humphrey's’ I had enjoyed early writings of the earliest explorations in the Sierra of which I had finished with one of Solomons’ exhilarating tales. I also read about the history of the Pythagoreans as recommended to me by my friend who was my 11th grade math teacher. Fascinating history of such as rich philosophical tradition.
I had serious issues falling asleep both nights there with shivering bouts due to potentially altitude which here at Charybdis Lake was 11,850 FT but I am not sure exactly why it only affected me right before sleep. I tried to relax as best I could and eventually I feel asleep amid tales of Sierra adventure.

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Morning light truly is magnificent.

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Did a little something different with this one.. I really enjoyed the curvature that I was able to create. The summit of Charybdis had quite a view to behold! Stare into the heart of the Mythical Ionian Basin if you dare..


Day 12- July 14- Charybdis Lake to Ladder Lake
Today we trekked over 3 passes to finally reach Ladder Lake. This section I had been very excited about and looking forward to it for the longest time. Ionian Pass was first and we quickly crossed it with its small snowfield at the top. The rock was good and fortunately more than half the day’s climbing was done. The basin we entered was undoubtedly very remote & visited by few. It was definitely one of those places in the Sierra you won't forget because of the grandeur and sense of adventure you get from it. Next we trekked up a straightforward slope to Black Divide Crossing which is just shy of 12,800 FT, which makes it the highest cross country pass I’ve been on thus far. The view was unimaginably beautiful with vistas in every direction with all the major peaks visible. Most sublime was the view below and out to LeConte Canyon & the Palisades. After soaking in the views for a while we had lunch there. It wasn’t long till Rogue discovered a rusty can in a crack & I declare we have found a register! Inside there was a tiny scrap of paper with somewhat legibly writing. Our hearts leap at the excitement of finding a 1919 signature but soon we come to realize it’s most likely 1979 with the first date visible being 1969 by Andy Smatko & the gang (naturally). We decide to take it to preserve it; I shall give it to the Bancroft Library and see if they can tell us exactly how old it is especially considering the can was for tobacco and that hasn’t been used in quite some time. After this glorious find we make our way down the Class 3 ridge downclimbing our way through mostly crumbly rock. We got to some ledges where we do a Class 4 move and are once again on loose enormous talus. This continues for forever until we are finally at the lake below where we take a break. The final climb of the day, Ladder Pass is up ahead & it is of course more loose nasty massive talus. On the way down we encounter more of the same and our energy is completely drained by the time we finally reach Ladder Lake 1000’s of feet below. The scenery is spectacular and the camping is quite nice in a little grove of trees on a knob overlooking the lake. It was the first camping we've had in legitimate trees since Hutchinson Meadow. We were no longer camping solely among rock and stone. We were damn tired & happy to be off all that nasty rock. Notice the trend... Nasty, loose, crumbly, and difficult to get through rock. This would continue into tomorrow with quite the fury. After having a latish dinner we both sleep very soundly.

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The incredibly remote and rock bound basin that is en route to Black Divide Crossing.

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Now that's a view... Black Divide Crossing! Enjoy the Palisades and so much more. We'd be traversing and travelling on the next section.

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Class 3 technical downclimbing. Not to hard but the rock is sharp and unforgiving.

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It's a long way down through endless talus that inevitably likes to move every now and again.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:13 pm

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Would you like some rock with that?

Black Divide Crossing Tarn Pano.jpg
I really really loved this high tarn below Ladder Pass & Black Divide Crossing. Something about these high lakes with no vegetation really calls to me. It is just so stunning to gave out and see rock guarding you on all sides. Ladder Pass is in the center.

Black Divide Crossing Tarn Pano7.jpg
Yep.. couldn't stop taking photos of this bad boy..

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How about some more nasty loose rock on Ladder Pass?

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Have enough rock yet?

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Ladder Pass at the top.. Enjoy all that fun rock to come down. It wasn't too hard or dangerous... But after the third pass of the day you're just damn tired of rock!

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Another beautiful tarn that I loved right before Ladder Lake.

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Ladder Lake was gorgeous.


Day 13- July 15- Climb Mt. McDuffie
Today we set off to climb McDuffie. This hulking beast is at 13,282 FT and Ladder Lake is at 10,498 FT. Any way you slice it that's almost 3000 vertical feet to the summit through what would turn out to be some of the most trying terrain ever. Both Rogue & I were pretty sore & lethargic as we started out. The days were taking their toll and this mountain would prove to be a serious test of will & endurance. We started climbing once again loose & shitty talus for a long ways until we realized we needed to curve around. So we took a Class 3 ledge system up to a higher slope. From there we entered a chute with lots of annoying Class 3-4 open faces that I tried to avoid. This continued until we climbed out of the chute and headed up another nasty annoying steep talus slope. We finally crested the slope and saw our high lake directly below the divide which fortunately signified more than half the climb. From here we climbed a loose slope of red/white talus up to the Black Divide itself. At the top we found a cairn & starred North at the nasty ugly ridge that was to be traversed. We traversed up & down loose and shifty talus once more until after 12:30 or so until we reached what we thought was the summit only to find out it was a false summit! Oh, how we cursed the wretched mountain. And what lay ahead was no walk in the park either. Horribly jagged & serrated crumbling black rock all the way to practically the summit. Lots of annoying & somewhat dangerous Class 3 we climbed up & down until finally around 2 or so we reached the summit & yelled victory! The mountain gave not an inch of climbing without hard and toilsome work. A hard earned victory it was. The summit view was profoundly beautiful with an expansive view in all directions. According to the register the peak averages 2 ascents a year with 2011 only having 1 ascent. It sufficed to say that McDuffie is the last climbed of all the SPS peaks of which this was 25 for me. Shane Smith called it one of the hardest SPS & I certainly agree. The thought of Bob Burd day hiking from South Lake is just pure torture & madness. We knew it would take many hours to get down so we retraced our steps all the way down through a more challenging ordeal of sustaining energy. By 6 we were in the chute or below it and we found a better route down that avoided most of the original talus slope. By the time we got to camp we were completely wrecked!! Exhausted, hungry, and sore were our mental and physical states. It was over 10.5 hours of climbing which makes it by far the longest climb of any peak I’ve done and remained to be for the entire summer. We both agreed it was time to say goodbye to the Black Divide for a while as the rock is not for the faint of heart. We also decided to layover here the next day instead of going into Dusy Basin to climb Giraud Peak.

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What we thought was the summit of McDuffie turned out to be the False Summit. That's the long and relentless ridgeline and that's not even all of it!

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Evening Light on Ladder Lake with a glorious view across LeConte Canyon to the Palisades.

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Evening Light on a tarn right next to Ladder Lake with a gorgeous reflection.
Last edited by alpinemike on Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby alpinemike » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:16 pm

Day 14- July 16- Layover at Ladder Lake
Today was a lazy day filled with a bit of reading, map staring, bathing, laundry & writing the journal. Massive clouds/thunderheads built to the North for a while but brought nothing but a few booms. Most everything had dissipated except a tiny bit to the North & Palisades. I’ve gotten quite a few good film shots thus far so hoping for more on the next section. Although I am once again debating to not carry the darn thing next year. It's a 6.5 pound behemoth Pentax 645 Medium Format Camera. As much as I love taking film shots carrying that much weight for 50+ days really takes a toll on my small frame. Sure would make life easier if I didn't.. We shall see about next year. So tomorrow we climb down to Le Conte hopefully without trouble & up into Dusy as the day after we arrive at Parchers for glorious food! The cravings of real food were in full swing. Sometimes we were completely raving about food on this day as we knew real food was relatively close once more! This difficult section was finally coming to a close and food was the only thought on our mind.

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Something fun to shoot all around Ladder Lake!

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Definitely had to get my fill of shots in at this lake since I knew I wouldn't be returning for likely a long time. Not an easy place to get to with lots of rock but I'll let you decide if the reward is worth it!


Stay tuned for Week 3 and the Palisades!
Last edited by alpinemike on Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Never put off a backpacking trip for tomorrow, if you can do it today...
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Re: Adventures With Rogue Photonic 2015 July 3-August 19

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:39 pm

Hey rogue! We met you guys on the way up to Goethe Lake, I think! My wife and I had day-hiked there and were hiking back down just after lunch when we met three guys hiking up above Muriel Lake, on the way to Alpine Col. Was that you?
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