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TR: Mt Ritter (Clyde Variation), 13-15Jun2014

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TR: Mt Ritter (Clyde Variation), 13-15Jun2014

Postby J ney » Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:19 pm

Three of us started out Friday from Agnew Meadows after a hearty breakfast at the Breakfast Club in Mammoth. The River Trail was in good condition and we made our way quickly to the river crossing and up Shadow Lake trail.
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This would be the first mountaineering trip for my girlfriend (Casey, an avid, fit backpacker with little experience on mountains) and my climbing bud (an avid rock climber with limited backpacking experience); both were well-studied in the theory of mountain travel but I was anxious to see how they would do when the slopes became steep. Everyone was in a great mood as we broke off the trail just shy of the crossing before Ediza's outlet and I took a moment to pull out my 4x5 for a shot of Ediza's outlet with Ritter in the background.
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Crossing the talus slope on Ediza's shore seemed to be the most tedious part of the day but was quickly passed and we began our search for a suitable campsite and found a serene meadow next to slabs of granite on the use trail to the start of the route. we had phenomenal views of the Minarets, Banner, and Ritter from our front porch and I really can't imagine a better campsite for our purposes (less than a mile from the lower gully of the route).
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After setting up camp and lounging a bit, we set off to do some recon and ran into another trio from LA also doing recon for the same climb on Saturday. We had a nice chat knowing we would see each other on Ritter the next day.
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We set off around 0530 on Saturday for the climb, strapped on our crampons and started up the lower gully... The snow came down about 200 yards shy of the main creek. At this point, my climbing bud had to acquiesce to an aggravated ankle that was causing him trouble flat-footing on the snow. I was really happy that he decided to call his day early on rather than pressing himself too far and getting the party in trouble. He resigned himself to scrambling around as he could and ended up having a phenomenal day in the lower gully.
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Casey and I continued up the lower gully in great (just shy of excellent) conditions. I would have preferred a bit stiffer snow but the temps had been so warm recently that it was not meant to be. Otherwise, the suncups were not too deep though there were some parts with significant runnels. We steadily climbed up the gulley to the snow bowl with Casey showing great form with crampons as we came up a band of rocks above the snow bowl, I stopped to pull out the 4x5 and the trio from yesterday (now also down to a duo) met up with us and - after chatting some more - contoured around the snowbowl to the steep ascent of what I have seen called the SE Col.
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This bit of the climb made Casey a bit nervous but we steadily slogged up with little issue and - before we knew it - we were traversing the SE glacier deciding to pass on Owens Chute and wrap around the less steep chute.Image

Once we got off the trail, the crampons came off and we proceeded to scramble up the 200-300' of crappy talus. This was really unpleasant as many of the big boulders that seemed sturdy would all shift in unison, fortunately we were mindful of our fall lines and had helmets on. There were a few minor rock falls but nothing too terrible. We made our way to the top of the rocks and began our final push up the snow slopes to the summit. The views were phenomenal in all directions! The final slope was the psychological crux for Casey as the slopes were not as steep as they had been elsewhere on the climb but the world was certainly dropping away below and she started to bonk after so many hours on the slopes - alas, she pushed through impressively and made it to the ridge with the dramatic drop off of the north face looking at Banner and Garnet Lake.
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After a short scramble, Casey was on top of her first peak... And quite a peak at that!! We had the summit to ourselves for about an hour, captured a nice 4x5 shot of the minarets and began our descent.
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The descent went a bit slower than ideal as there was some trepidation on the glissades but all went smooth as the clouds moved in (but no rain).
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We ended up returning to camp around 7pm to find a slightly worried climbing bud hunkered in his tent trying to stay out of the wind which dramatically picked up in the afternoon. We exchanged our stories and passed out for what proved to be a VERY gusty night. The final hike out was uneventful and we made it back to the Bay Area around 6pm the next day, anxious to get out again!

Below is our route on Google Earth.
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Re: TR: Mt Ritter (Clyde Variation), 13-15Jun2014

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:28 am

Nice report and what a great peak climbing debut for your girlfriend, Casey. Mt Ritter is a heck of peak to get as her first.
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: TR: Mt Ritter (Clyde Variation), 13-15Jun2014

Postby Shawn » Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:37 am

Indeed, great TR. That photo of you at the summit with the camera is superb! Nicely done.
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Re: TR: Mt Ritter (Clyde Variation), 13-15Jun2014

Postby maverick » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:59 pm

Cool TR and pictures, thanks. Ritter Lakes are thawing out nicely, usually still
frozen this early in the year.
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Re: TR: Mt Ritter (Clyde Variation), 13-15Jun2014

Postby KathyW » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:40 am

Great report - congrats on the successful climb and than you for sharing.
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TR: Mt Ritter (Clyde Variation), 13-15Jun2014

Postby J ney » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:53 pm

Thanks folks!! Yeah... You could definitely tell the low snow year... Parts of the glacier (not on the route) were already looking pretty icy and a bergschrund was starting to peak through up top. Keeping my fingers crossed that the forecasts of a moderate/strong El Niño provide some significant precipitation next year!
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