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Mount Emerson

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Mount Emerson

Postby shan1203 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 3:30 pm

Hello HST,

On Saturday, we tackled our first 5th class alpine peak - Mount Emerson!

We got an early start (although not quite early enough we would later learn) leaving the Piute Pass Trail head at 7:15 AM. We made our way up the trail leaving it at what seemed an appropriate spot to finish the approach to the climb. The cracks are quite obvious from the trail and there seems to be many spots at which you could decide to start making your way cross country towards them.

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We found ourselves at the base of the climb at 8:15 AM and took a quick break to gear up and get ready to start the real adventure. We spotted another couple approaching the climb as we were getting ready. They turned out to be super nice and I chatted with them as I belayed Jeremy up the first pitch. A hold broke off on him within the first few moves, surprising all of us, but he had a good grip on the other and didn't fall. We traded leads for 4 pitches, not taking the bypass onto the 3rd/4th class slabs, but instead staying in the chimney. The climbing was easy, and protection was plentiful through this section.

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We were now in the new chute with lots of 3rd and some 4th class sections ahead of us. We stayed roped up and simul-climbed through this section and the next. At times, when the going was easy we carried the rope to avoid disturbing the loose rock. Then we'd find a tougher section of 4th class and plug a few pieces for peace of mind. We weren't quite certain when to cross the rib into the chute on the left, but decided to continue up the the chute until a wall prevented further 3rd or 4th class movement. There was a spot on the left that allowed fairly easy access into the chute next to us and so we crossed here.

Once in the chute, we quickly saw 'the notch' which would allow us to access the ridge traverse. We made our way up this chute in the same manner we finished the last, roped up and mostly simul-climbing. I really enjoyed the 4th class sections in both chutes - the 3rd class stuff was loose and sloggy, but not too unpleasant.

We knew we weren't going to make great time because of the fact that we were simul-climbing - the couple we saw at the beginning passed us while we were pitching out the 5th class section and a group of free solo'ers passed us in the 3rd class section of the first chute. We wished them well and hoped we might see them at the summit but knew that we'd likely reach it well after they did.

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It was really amazing to be in these chutes on the sides of Mt. Emerson. Since this was our first time doing this type of climbing we found ourselves in awe - looking up, down, all around to try to absorb everything we were experiencing. I found on this outing that I really enjoy 4th class climbing (albeit, with a rope :wink: )

Soon enough, we found ourselves at 'the notch' and accessing the ridge. At this point, we realized a few things:
#1 - We heard shouts and realized that the couple who had passed us were at the summit and saw us come up onto the ridge
#2 - Light was going to start to be an issue, not immediately, but sooner than we'd hoped
#3 - We were going to summit Mt. Emerson!!!

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The ridge traverse was amazing. Although pressed for time, it still felt safest to remain roped and simul-climb. I was truly in awe as I made my way up, around and over the route. Bypassing the gendarme at first looked impossible, but as we scoped out the options a line pieced itself together for me. Some of the moves I made along the traverse were exciting, to say the least! The knife-edge traverse was almost anticlimactic until I reached the last moves where you have to wrap around the corner and take steps without being able to see your feet - wow!

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After that, the climbing eased and easy 3rd class took us the rest of the way to the summit. I honestly felt a bit emotional at the top - all of the awesome feelings from the day coming together in one moment.

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There was not much time for a summit celebration - as we'd reached it during sunset. We quickly took a few photos, signed the register and began to scope out the descent. We got in serious 'go mode' and made our way off the summit, back onto the ridge and started to pick our way down to the slopes on the south side. The last few minutes of sunlight allowed us to get through the climb-y-er sections and into the true Class 2 terrain before needing to don our headlamps. We made our way down the rest of the descent in the dark without issue. The use trail was easy to pick up, although it came and went at times (perhaps it doesn't in the light :) ) At this point - summit complete, full darkness upon us - I began to feel the effects of the day on my body, I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. The exhaustion began to win as we got closer and closer to the Piute Pass Trail and Loch Leven. At one point, we took a short break and ate some shot blocks for one last burst of energy. They did the trick and we were finally down on level terrain again! Luckily, the trail is a highway and was easy to find even in the dark. We turned back to the east and finished the last few miles as quickly as we could manage.

Back at the car, we looked at the time and realized that the full trip took us about 16 hours - car to car. Great day, great mountain, great company!

UPDATE - GPS Tracks and Video

GPS Tracks: http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/2784845

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN73DpP6 ... e=youtu.be

Happy Hiking,
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Last edited by shan1203 on Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Mount Emerson

Postby Vaca Russ » Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:35 pm

Wow Shannon,

That was a great report about a great climb!

This is quite a coincidence. Art Rock was just talking to me about Emerson on Sunday! :nod: :nod:

We were up at the Minarets discussing "turnaround times".

He was commenting on how some people need to spend the night on the Emerson because it is such a long climb. Some people learn the term "bivouac" is French for "mistake".

Thanks for the great report. :nod:

"...Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host and then a master?"

Kahil Gibran.
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Re: Mount Emerson

Postby shan1203 » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:17 pm


Thanks! I enjoy reading your trip reports, too!

Yes, turn around times are important :nod: A few times during the day, we discussed not going for the summit. However, when we were able to get a look at the South Slopes (which appeared easy to navigate) and when we realized how easy the 3rd class to the summit was, we went for it.

I've also updated the trip report with our GPS tracks and a video my husband put together of our climb!

Happy Hiking,
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Re: Mount Emerson

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:30 pm

Nice report. That looks to be a great climb with quite the variety along the route and an eletrifying final traverse. I'd say this is a bit too electrifying for me to try myself, but very fun to do it vicariously through reading your post.
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