TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun | High Sierra Topix  

TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun

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TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun

Postby J ney » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:50 pm

I arrived in Tuolumne Meadows around 0750 on Saturday in time to queue up with 10 other folks waiting for walk-up permits at the wilderness station; after a brief dog/pony show by the rangers I received my permit with no issue (none of the 16 walk-up permits for Lyell Cyn had been claimed). I hit the trail around 0930 after a nice breakfast at the TM Grill. The conditions were great... a little on the chilly side but sunny and no clouds in the sky and I was able to keep a quick pace through Lyell Canyon, there was a bit of a breeze keeping the skeeters away and - except for the 6 or 7 minor creek crossings - my mind drifted off to inconsequential things as a covered the somewhat monotonous (yet always picturesque) trail.
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The pace certainly slowed a bit as I started the climb up towards Donahue Pass as the trail broke up a bit and began climbing; still, no snow was found on the trail for the entirety of my hike up to the informal basecamp turn-off around 10,500'. Starting off-trail at this point, there were a couple of patches of snow as I went above the tarn to a granite shelf around 10,800; the snow cover was increasing greatly and real estate was at a premium so I ended up dropping my pack and setting up camp on a damp, off-kilter piece of land a 100 yards or so away from another couple of tents (ideally I try to be out of view of others but I was getting eager to set-up camp and explore a bit). It was about 1445 by the time I had camp set-up and I was feeling pretty good and figured I would take a swing at Mt Lyell today as thoughts of getting home at a reasonable hour on Sunday enticed me. Heading up, I cross paths with a SPS group of 3 that just finished their ascent of Lyell & Maclure and were headed back to their camp by me.
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I could tell the snow was getting on the mushy-side but I hoped that if I could climb the snow field the leads to the glacier that I would be OK... about 5 or 6 steps into the snowfield I ended up post-holing up to my hip and quickly thought better of it :-). I extricated myself from my own stupidity and went back to camp to spend the afternoon/evening napping on the warm granite and having dinner w/ the SPSers. I woke up around 0545 Sunday morning to find all standing water from the night before (including my bucket) frozen over... I hurriedly geared up and, at 0615 - started for the snow-field that turned me away 14 hours earlier.

This time, the conditions were perfect... the snow had that wonderful styrofoam characteristic and my crampons had a great bite as a scurried up the snowfield and on to the glacier. As I approached the top of the glacier, I knew I did not want to hit Lyell/Mac col directly as I had heard the climb was more in the class 4 territory and I'd just assume stay on the glacier as much as possible. I noticed a bunch of steps leading up to and across the bergschrund but it had been warm recently and I wasn't sure how much the bergschrund had opened up so I ended up aiming for a spot roughly two-thirds between the schrund and the col... this worked out perfectly and I was able to take off the crampons and scurry up nothing more than easy and enjoyable class 3 the rest of the way to the summit. It seemed like Lyell was getting decent traffic w/ a few parties visiting the day before. I arrived at the summit at 0900, spent 30-minutes soaking in the phenomenal views of the AA wilderness, and generally feeling pretty damn good to be sitting on top of Yosemite before remembering that I was only half-way done and I still needed to drive home that night :-)

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I scurried down the rock a bit further this time to the Lyell/Mac col so I could chat with another team of three that were on their way up. It turns out the three folks live about 5 minutes from me and also go to Planet Granite in Sunnyvale (such a small world); we exchanged pleasantries and itineraries and went our separate ways. Even by 10 or 1030 the glacier was noticeably more slushy, and the final descent of the snow field was more just sliding / stand-glissading to the bottom... I was very happy I woke up as early as I did (and wish I had woken up a bit earlier). I got back to camp around 1130, packed up, had a quick lunch, and hit the trail back down. The wind was much less today and the skeeters were out in force from about 10k' down. The rest of the hike was more-or-less uneventful and I ended up back at my truck around 1700 (dang it... just missed the TM Grill). I scurried on home and got back to the Bay Area around 2145 (just in time to shower and get to bed in time for work on Monday :-).



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Re: TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun

Postby calicokat » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:30 pm

Great trip report and photos. Like the story being told by the pictures. Excellent work, it's on my upcoming list, possibly September :)
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Re: TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun

Postby J ney » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:02 am

Thanks Calico! It's a great and fun peak to climb!!
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Re: TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun

Postby artrock23 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 10:15 pm

Nice TR and photos! :thumbsup:

Mt. Lyell may be my next Sierra climb (either it or Mt. Agassiz), except i'll be approaching from Rush Ck. Trail. I'm thinking the end of next month.

Thanks for posting.
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TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun

Postby J ney » Wed Jun 26, 2013 4:54 pm

Thanks Art... That seems like it would be a nice approach; one of the groups I met up there came over from the Mono Pass area... I haven't scoped it out on a map but that seems like a nice alternative to Lyell Cyn approach.
Agassiz is on my short-list as well... First want to bag Sill, though :-)
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Re: TR: TM to Mt Lyell (Glacier Route), 15/16Jun

Postby Snow Nymph » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:57 am

:thumbsup: Its on my list too!
:)
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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