Day 1 (5PM start).
Henry and I arrived at the trailhead separately. The plan was to meet up on trail or at Anvil Camp. I started from the old stock trailhead while Henry parked at the hiker trailhead. The first couple of miles were brutal with temps scorching. My suunto showed a high temp of 104F! It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, as I was in shade as soon when I got up to the switchbacks leading to the 1st ridge. I had intended to leave later and night-hike but the drive in was easier than expected. I caught Henry on the downhill after crossing into the Shepherd Creek drainage. Since the trail crew repaired the trail at the gully and elsewhere the Shepherd’s trail is in the best shape it has been in years. We had an “Easy” hike up to Anvil Camp. Getting there just in time to set up camp and make dinner before it got dark. Henry mentioned more than once that the hiker trailhead parking was busier than he had ever seen it.
Crossing the ridge between Symmes Creek and Shepherd Creek.
We got up a little after first light, had breakfast and some coffee. Coffee always seems so much better in the mountains. A couple hours later we were over Shepherd’s and into the Williamson Bowl. We got some extra water, expecting that it might be awhile before we could refill and stopped to look at the route up Tyndall Col. It looked loose. We were a bit concerned that it might be a 2 steps forward, 1 step back sort of affair. I tried to give Henry some space and stay a little to one side of him, in case he knocked loose some rocks. He didn’t knock loose a single rock. We stayed in the heavier rock and made an arcing path up to near the top then traversed to the pass itself. Easy.
Henry questing up Tyndall Col.
Williamson from Tyndall Col.
Our confidence and reliance on Secor fails us a bit on this next part. For Mt Versteeg, Secor reads:
It should read something like:NorthWest Ridge. Class 3. Follow the ridge from Tyndall Col.
Henry who seems to channel Norman Clyde when he scrambles quickly got ahead of me. I stalled out on a low class 5 move to look for an alternate route. I eventually did the move then proceeded to the top of the 1st gendarme. Not the summit. At this point I vaguely remembered looking up earlier and seeing 3 or 4 gendarmes angling up to the south. I reversed my way down and then started traversing around the east side just under the ridgeline. I caught up with Henry on the true summit pinnacle, he had just climbed over each of the gendarmes. The summit has great views.Crumby rock. Class 3. Climb ridge, bypass class 4 gendarmes on the East side, summit is the South most gendarme.
Upper Wrights Lake from Versteeg summit.
Henry lounging post summit.
Yours truly at summit.
We used my traverse route back, taking extra care because of the loose crumbly rock. Back at Tyndall Col, I let Henry go ahead and waited until he was clear of any rockfall that might occur to start. The west side of Tyndall Col is loose. This pass would likely be much better with a lot of snow. When I did start down I immediately started a rock avalanche! I yelled rock for what seems like minutes. Lower down the chute, we split up on either side of it and proceeded in parallel. This worked well and we were down into the Wrights Lakes basin soon enough.
Top of Tyndall Col looking east.
I love this area. Great scenery, fishing and solitude. We chose to take the shortcut and go over the ridge between the Wrights and Wallace basins. After multiple times over, I’ve almost minimized the amount of boulder hopping required and it goes pretty quickly. The first time I did this I remember coming to a sea of boulders and thinking this is no shortcut! We camped near the outlet of Wallace lake.
Looking up Tyndall Col from west side.
Breakfast and coffee, break camp and were walking once again. Plan for today is Mt Russell. After some (massive) boulder hopping, we’re up over the step up between Wallace and Tulainyo lake. We meet a couple of fellow adventurers at the tarn below the N-N-E face of Russel while making a stop for water. John and James. Turns out we’ll have some company on Russell. Henry remarks that he bets the face above us has some first ascent route potential. He’s planning some technical climbing on Russel later in the year.
Russel-Carillon Col is a fun class 2-3 pass. Pretty short, good rock. Why can’t they all be like that? The East ridge of Russel was so fun! Good class 3 climbing with some exposure. No wonder it’s in “The Good, The Great, and The Awesome” (Croft). I would say Awesome. One of my favorite scrambles. We make quick work of it. John and James head down the chute near the West summit. We retraced our steps and decided to go up Carillon, it’s a quick summit from the Col. Easy class 2.
We head down a use trail towards Upper Boy Scout Lake. It becomes a sandy mess. By the time we get to the bottom we need to empty out our shoes of debris. A nice lunch break at the lake is had before proceeding up another use trail to Iceberg lake to camp. Iceberg lake is a bit depressing. We see 2 wag bags; we hope someone is coming back for them, but we're doubtful. There are bits of trash here and there, and a torn puffy jacket. Many campsites have elaborate rock walls. I’m not so much against those here, after all they reinforce camping in established spots but the trash is not good.
We had talked about the possibility of “Crowds” today as we’re doing the Mountaineers Route, so we’re up early and off. Post coffee of course. We avoid a snow patch down low by taking slabs to the climbers right. Easy class 3. We take more slabs higher up to avoid dry loose rock wherever possible. Inside of an hour and we’re already to the notch. We head up the 1st set of ledges after the notch. Wonderful class 3 climbing to the summit. We’re beaten to the summit by a loan hiker from the trail. We take the opportunity to call home. Soon there are loads of people. Yikes. One adventurous free spirited woman strips down to her bottoms and has a pic taken (facing away). Next up Mt Muir. It has 298ft of prominence, so not sure how it qualifies as a mountain, but it is a fine scramble, albeit short. We go up and down quickly. It has great views and relative solitude in comparison to the Whitney summit.
Whitney trail ridgeline.
We proceed down the main trail where we run into a ranger, who I presume was probably the Crabtree ranger. He is nice enough to give us what turns out to be a great shortcut via a lake near Mt Langley. Thank you Ranger Rodman! After some loose rock near the Discovery Pinnacle, we slid down the loose and sandy to the lake below Crabtree pass. There we emptied our shoes and had lunch. Then up over Crabtree Pass, and down into Miter basin. After a relaxing stop at Sky Blue lake we travel cross-country towards our new destination above Soldier lake just below Mt Langley. The best campsites yet are here on a knoll overlooking the lake.
We do the walk up to Mt Langley. Huge cairns make the way. Nice views at the top, but it seems smoky in the distance to the N, E, and S. We hike down Army Pass. It looks to have had some recent rockfall/landslides -- perhaps from the earthquake that shutdown the Whitney Portal. It’s an easy hike out to the trailhead and we’re there around 2PM, 2 hours before our shuttle is due to pick us up. The hours pass quickly as we talk about everything, nothing and a possible trip to the Great Western Divide.
Thanks Henry for help with the TR, for about ½ the photos and the hike.
I'm having trouble adding all my photos so will post an addendum.