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University Peak

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University Peak

Postby TDC » Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:36 am

Any suggestions on preferred route up University Peak? North face or south ridge from University pass area. They both sound fun in their own ways. Seems like the south ridge has a tedious boulder approach from various sources. This is an overnight trip so I am taking my time, Hike in, camp, climb next day. Any suggestions advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Re: University Peak

Postby maverick » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:34 pm

Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

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: University Peak

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:27 pm

The tedious boulder field to approach the south ridge is just that. The standard north ridge route is class 3 and probably more fun, but you need to want to do class 3. There is another route, though, that I believe is faster than either of the two standard routes from Onion Valley and it is class 2, although I'm pretty sure it is not listed in any guidebook. This is to climb a big broad chute from Bench Lake to the northwest shoulder of the peak. From here you can follow the NW ridge all the way to the summit, but this will entail some class 3 over some very big blocks just short of the summit. Alternatively, to keep the entire climb class 2 you simply detour right (west) near the summit when the ridge starts to get steep and contour around to your west find class 2 talus to the summit. My dad and I climbed it this way in 1976 after pretty much sizing up the route from the summit of Mt. Gould four or five years earlier--yes the route is that obvious from a distance.

They may still have my post that describes this route on climber.org from years ago (about 10 years ago, perhaps) when I did sort of a data dump and posted all of my old notes on various routes and variations. I haven't been on their site in years, but they once had a 'corrections or additions to Secor' or something like that section and I may have put it in there. Or I may have simply entered this post in the section on University Peak.

This route is also very convenient for the mellow overnighter you plan, because you can camp at Matlock or Bench L. Bear in mind that if you've fish, I know they've killed the fish in Bench and may have in Matlock and Slim, too.
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: University Peak

Postby rcymbala » Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:19 pm

Hey, TDC !

How did it go last year?

I made it to the top of University Peak, September 20, 2012, with a new ammo box and summit register (thx Harry, from Sierra Club). The weather was perfect and the view was grand. My friend David M. stayed in the campground, which was nice, because it was my first attempt on a big peak in the Sierra, and solo, too. On the way back from the summit, I met two fishermen and we gazed up at where I had been. The top of U. Peak looked way way way up there, and impossibly steep, so I'm glad I didn't see where I was headed going up the trail. When you get there, it's always less steep than it looks from below, however, it's always steeper looking in reality compared with the lines on the topo map.

The route I took went by Matlock, Bench, and lake 3460m (Kearsarge Peak Quadrangle). I left the Kearsarge Pass trail randomly by going up the drainage that drains into Little Pothole Lake. On the way back I took the trail, which is very well maintained but not on the 1994 topo map, between Matlock and Flower Lakes, but it has a lot of up and down, so, I took the easier way up with steady climbing. At 9 A.M. on Friday morning I began for summit. It took 5 hours from Matlock Lake to the top, 13,632 feet. It only took 4 hours down from the top of University to the Onion Valley campground at 9,200 feet.

I'd recommend skipping Bench Lake. Instead, circle around Matlock Lake counter-clockwise, cross the stream connecting Bench and Matlock on the shore of Matlock, and pass through the stand of huge trees S.W. of Matlock. Then ascend the beautiful granite steps keeping on the "ridge", which is flat. Stick to the left and pass Lake 3480 to its east. Now all the trees and lakes are below. Keep sticking to the left and ascending. After a few hundred feet is a small pass that leads to the main couloir.

There's two passes into Center Basin, to the west of the summit, and I took the one on the right, with a snow field that was easily avoided. At the top of this pass is an interesting formation that looks like folded, rounded rocks, that's a good visual for finding the pass on the way back. It seems like I didn't take the actual north face route, which is to the left, that puts you to the east of the summit. I did what looked easiest, taking the long couloir to the right, and ending up at the 2nd pass to the west of the summit.

The views that keep opening up and up as you go higher and higher towards the pass are fantastic, including Painted Lady, Kearsarge Pinnacles and Lakes, Mt. Clarence King and beyond. From the top of the pass, beyond Center Basin, I think I saw off in the distance Table Mt. and the rest of Great Western Divide. Wow, to climb those mountains would be something else, they seem to be in a different world.

Using the "keep ascending" method, after reaching the pass and seeing Center Basin below, I travelled east to a false summit. It was class 3 and lots of fun, having to decide whether to go left or right quite often. It was a real sense of achievement, because the way to the top was not obvious at all, and I was surrounded by really big rock. Once on top, I saw the true summit directly to the east but slightly higher. I was almost there but got stuck for the first time inbetween the two summits. The rock I was on ended in a straight 10 foot drop-off. I saw some footholds, and was able to find them without looking while clinging to the top of the rock with my hands. Then, success, I gained the summit at 13632.

The old ammo box, sans lid, was under the summit block behind a rock, with a tiny spiral-bound pad in a ziplock bag, that had gotten wet, with entries between 2007 and 2012. It was full. The new summit register is a huge book that will hopefully last a long time, and also get full. The Climber.org has a webpage called "Sierra Peaks Summit Register Needs", or go to...
http://summitregister.langenbacher.org/ ...to help out. All the entries were full of enthusiasm & joyful thoughts, including the shortest one scribbled by someone who was obviously exhausted from climbing the north rib.

On the way down, I rested on the light brown sandy short of lake 3460m, which was slightly blue, and was mesmerized by the brown, shimmering rocks scattering the shore, beautiful. The lake is fed by a large snow field, with a tiny stream running out of it. There's a pass to Kearsarge Lakes from Lake 3460, I wonder if it has a name. I wonder if the pass is climable, because it seems like a nice way to the top-most Kearsarge Lake that would avoid having to use Kearsarge Pass and that ugly looking switchback near the top.

Happy trails, everybody [END]
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