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Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner (Now with Trip Report!

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Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner (Now with Trip Report!

Postby Heyworth » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:15 pm

I'm planning a trip to the Minarets area in a few weeks, including a climb up Banner Peak, and I'm thinking about camping at Nydiver Lakes. But I have a couple of questions:

First, are there good sites to be found there? I look at pictures from the air and it looks fairly inhospitable to, say, putting a tent stake in the ground. And what does look flat and not solid rock looks marshy. So, are there good spots or should we just plan on camping past Ediza?

Second, is there any reason it's a bad spot to base a climb up Banner via the Ritter-Banner saddle? It seems that you'd save some climbing up from Ediza and more or less just traverse around the foot of the mountain to the bottom of the snowfield up to the saddle. Does that seem like a good plan, or am I missing some section of dangerous Class 5 in there?
Last edited by Heyworth on Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:08 pm

Hi Heyworth,

You inquired about this area last year before a trip you were planning to do, but never
got a TR. :\ http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... 245#p48245
There are some nice level spots around Nydiver that make for some excellent camping
and basecamping. You can get a good view of the lakes and the surroundings here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28236328@N ... otostream/
Have done Banner, but from Catherine Lake.
Here are some TR's:
http://www.summitpost.org/banner-peak-v ... dle/169127
http://www.summitpost.org/western-slope ... dle/157200
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby Heyworth » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:13 pm

Last year's trip turned into three days of us sitting in tents next to Garnet Lake in a more or less constant rain, occasionally broken long enough for us to cook some food and look up at Banner. We had fun (although a deck of cards would have gone a long way), and stayed more or less dry, but there wasn't much to say about it. Hopefully there will be something more interesting to say about this year's trip.
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby maverick » Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:36 pm

Heyworth wrote:
Last year's trip turned into three days of us sitting in tents next to Garnet Lake in a
more or less constant rain, occasionally broken long enough for us to cook some food
and look up at Banner


Well that's a bummer, but it sounds like you all made the best of it. Hope it turns out
much better the second time around.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby cgundersen » Sat Jul 28, 2012 2:37 pm

Hi Heyworth,
To add to Mav's comments, the Nydiver plateau is beautiful and there are ample campsites. There is a broad, sand-gravel mound just to the east of the junction of the uppermost two big lakes that provides great drainage (in case you hit rain again) and wonderful views. I've also camped several times near the two little ponds on the plateau that are directly above Ediza. When Ediza is crawling with people, Nydiver remains pretty untrammelled. The only issue you may encounter is access. I'm sure the trails have been cleared of blowdown to Shadow and Ediza, but the easiest route to the Nydiver plateau is to cut off the Ediza trail just before the Nydiver drainage creek crosses the trail. There is an exposed hillside (and a staging area for stock) with a use trail that can be a little tricky to follow. Try to stay on the creek branch that goes right up the middle of the draw and whose origin is just a little east of the lowest, "u"-shaped pond (if you follow the main Nydiver outflow creek, the last bit has some harder climbing). This route leads past an old prospect (garnets!) and once you reach that first pond, the rest is easy. However, if that route is messed up, then I'd recommend going all the way to Ediza and climb the hillside directly above the northern shore of Ediza. Far fewer trees there.......But, if both those routes suck, the 3rd option is to follow the little creek (that flows into Ediza) from the pond immediately below Ritter & Banner and traverse into the Nydiver plateau. I'll be really curious how the blowdown affected that area. Good luck!
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby Heyworth » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:55 am

Great information, both of you. Thanks. I will definitely report back on how we manage to find our way up there. We're scheduled for five weeks from now, with my friends flying in from Chicago and D.C. for our annual excursion. If everything goes right, we'll drive up to Mammoth on Wednesday, September 5, picking up the permits, buying groceries and acclimating overnight. Thursday it's up to the Nydivers. Up and down Banner on Friday, then around Iceberg and Cecile and down to Minaret on Saturday. Then it's all downhill to Devil's Postpile and the drive home on Sunday.
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby cgundersen » Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:09 pm

Heyworth,
There's a better than 50% chance my wife & I will be heading in that general area in a couple weeks, so if there's anything more to report, I'll let you know.
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby Alpineholydog » Sun Aug 26, 2012 8:21 pm

We are climbing Mt Ritter and Banner on the day you arrive. All pictures of the eastern approach look good from Ediza or Nydiver. Weather so far looks good. Plenty of camping at both the west end of Ediza or uphill around Nydiver lakes. Ground is hard up there so tent spikes are out usually. Time to sleep w the rocks. Safe journeys.
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby kpeter » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:42 am

For a gripping adventure story and a cautionary tale about climbing Banner/Ritter from the Nydiver vicinity, you might read this about the famous 1971 incident in which five climbers made the mistake of trying to summit in bad weather. Actually they left from Ediza, but Nydiver is mentioned too. Here is the lead:

"The worst accident in the modern history of Sierra mountaineering happened on Mt. Ritter, during Memorial Day weekend in 1971. This event strongly affected an entire generation of Sierra hikers and climbers, but it is almost forgotten now."

It was a good thing you hunkered down in your tents last year.

http://www.stanford.edu/~galic/rettenba ... r1971.html
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Re: Nydiver Lakes as base camp for Banner

Postby Heyworth » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:26 pm

Thanks. That article was actually one of the first things I found when I started researching this trip, and I sent it to my friends as well. We've been watching the weather closely and it looks like any chance of a storm is remote at this point.
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Re: The Ritter Disaster of 1971

Postby giantbrookie » Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:29 pm

kpeter wrote:For a gripping adventure story and a cautionary tale about climbing Banner/Ritter from the Nydiver vicinity, you might read this about the famous 1971 incident in which five climbers made the mistake of trying to summit in bad weather. Actually they left from Ediza, but Nydiver is mentioned too. Here is the lead:

"The worst accident in the modern history of Sierra mountaineering happened on Mt. Ritter, during Memorial Day weekend in 1971. This event strongly affected an entire generation of Sierra hikers and climbers, but it is almost forgotten now."

It was a good thing you hunkered down in your tents last year.

http://www.stanford.edu/~galic/rettenba ... r1971.html



Wow, this brings back some haunting memories of my childhood. Growing up in Palo Alto, and also going on more than a few hikes with the Peak climbing section of the Loma Prieta Sierra Club chapter, I remember this vividly, but I never read such a detailed account. It was particularly spooky to me and my dad at the time because we had been up Carson Peak after some bad weather cleared up at about the same time the year earlier (1970). When we climbed Ritter in 1973 via the west face route from Ritter Lakes we wondered if the unmarked graves at Ritter Lakes were the graves of some or all of those who died on the mountain in 1971. There are the unmarked graves at Ritter Lakes as well as a marked grave (with plaque) below Glacier Pass that apparently held a couple that died decades earlier (I seem to recall the names Conrad and Anna Rettenbacher or something like that).

The Loma Prieta chapter had its share of mountaineering deaths during this era and the other two I remember both appear to involve cold. One death was in the mid 70's when a trip leader refused to turn back on Mt Shasta when weather closed in. Another also occurred on Shasta (I seem to recall this was a bit later), when I leader was found dead in the snow a few hundred feet below his tent in the morning. I never heard the post mortem on the latter, but I've always assumed that the poor fellow went out at night to relieve himself and slipped, then died of hypothermia in the cold night. My dad was scheduled to co-lead a trip with this guy to Mt Russell the following weekend.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: The Ritter Disaster of 1971

Postby kpeter » Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:23 pm

giantbrookie wrote: [There are the unmarked graves at Ritter Lakes as well as a marked grave (with plaque) below Glacier Pass that apparently held a couple that died decades earlier (I seem to recall the names Conrad and Anna Rettenbacher or something like that).

Earlier in the same link is a full account of H. Galic's years-long research project to find out more about Conrad and Anna Rettenbacher and the Naturfreunde club (still in existence) that placed the plaque. Galic conducts a fascinating detective hunt and he finally figured the whole thing out once he got past the fact that the July 1934 date on the plaque was actually wrong (they died in August 1934.) Once I started reading his account I just could not stop until I was done.

They were found by Norman Clyde, perhaps the most famous mountaineer of the era. He had a fool-proof method. Watch for vultures. There is an interesting piece about Clyde towards the end of the materials.

http://www.stanford.edu/~galic/rettenbacher/
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