TR: Whorl Mtn, 03/04Aug | High Sierra Topix  

TR: Whorl Mtn, 03/04Aug

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TR: Whorl Mtn, 03/04Aug

Postby J ney » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:15 am

I had initally planned on heading out to Mt Sill Friday evening but a botched oil change for my truck (broken oil filter housing) delayed me until mid-morning Saturday. Luckily the Sierra provides an abundance of options and it only took me a half-hour to pivot towards another Mountaineer's Peak that has captured my attention. Whorl seemed like a good bet, better odds for late walk-up permits, great solitude, reasonable approach, not technical. So I departed from the bay area around 1015 on Saturday, bound for Bridgeport. I made decent time and arrived at the ranger station around 3pm, picked up my permit, and headed up for Mono Village. I hit the trail around 4pm and started the hike up to Horse Creek Pass. The trail was well-maintained for the first few miles with great views of Twin Lakes below and eventually of Twin Peaks.
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Eventually, the established trail vanishes and you're left picking your way up the first of two significant climbs. Going up the first climb, I followed a trail in the talus slope (hikers left) about 2/3 of the way up before seeing a nice use trail by theh creek on the other side of the canyon by the creek... I was determined to take this creek-side trail on my way back. Finding an established use-trail up to the pass is - in my opinion - an exercise in futility... most of the use-trails I found would disappear after 25 yards and you would be left deep in brush or in the middle of talus slope only to look at the other side of the canyon and see another trail, this would be followed by carefully navigating to the other trail only to find your new trail disappear just the same!! It is quite possible that I completely missed the boat on this one, but it got to the point where I just picked my route and went for it. This proved especially true for the second and final slog up to Horse Creek Pass... I recalled folks mentioning a trail on the hiker's-right of the canyon but I could not find it; being absolutely fed up with talus hopping by this time, I stayed more towards the left and found a nice class 3 head wall (some what deteriorating) and did some enjoyable scrambling rather than risking my ankles in the talus.
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Eventually I made it up to Horse Creek Pass around 7:30 and was blown away by the juxtaposition between the two sides of the pass... gone was the talus and scree, replaced by the verdant Spiller canyon with my objective in beautiful twilight. I made camp just beneath the tarn mentioned in the Dharma Bums, shot the bull with 4 nice gents from Truckee/Reno, and hit the rack.
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I hit the trail around 0700 on Sunday, easily making it down the bench below Whorl. I had pics and beta to find the three chutes for the SE approach on Whorl but I some how shot passed all of them and ended up ascending a chute just north of the southern summit, the chute coming up was more or less class 2 lower down but there were some class 3/4 spots as I tried to reposition myself below the entrance to the chockstone. Once at the chockstone, I was able to scramble up to a small hole on the climber's left; shove my bag through the hole, and then wormed myself through; once through, I saw a number of slings nearby and tried not to think about how I would downclimb back down the chockstone on my way back :-).
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From there, it was a nice walk/scramble to the peak which I had all to myself... looking at the register (w/ entries back to 1978) it seemed that Whorl is being climbed about every 2 weeks or so. I rested and enjoyed the view for about 45 minutes before I began my scramblle back home.
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Heading back towards the chockstone, I was glad to have a decent length of paracord with me so I could lower my pack before downclimbing. Once out of the chockstone, I immediately saw the route I should have ascended and a separate scree slope which allowed me to more-or-lesss plunge step my way down the steeper parts of the slope and - 4.5 hours after starting - I was back at the tarn where I camped packing up my gear for the trip out. Heading back down Horse Creek Pass oddly seemed more draining than coming up... yes, I was tired, but navigating all the talus - even though I had better visibility as to what should be the use-trails - really sapped my energy and I ended up stopping for an afternoon siesta by Horse Creek in a serene meadow between the two major climbs.
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Eventually, I ambled off the trail around 6pm (3.5 hours up Horse Creek Pass, 5.5 hours down... wasn't expecting that). Mono Village still seemed very busy for a Sunday evening so I dodged the odd looks of the folks in RV's, jumped in my truck and sped back home getting back to the bay area around 11pm.



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J ney
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Re: TR: Whorl Mtn, 03/04Aug

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:34 am

Neat report. I'm surprised Whorl gets climbed as frequently as it does, considering its comparative difficulty and the fact that it is far enough from Horse Creek Pass to reduce its accessibility. I haven't done Whorl, but have long wondered about, owing to its fine rugged appearance and the adventurous nature of the routes up it.
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: Whorl Mtn, 03/04Aug

Postby J ney » Tue Aug 13, 2013 12:38 pm

Thanks!! Likewise, I was a bit surprised by the frequency of ascents; all of the folks I ran into on the trail were shooting for Matterhorn and a few had never heard of Whorl.
Included in that bunch was one young Marine (presumably from Pickel Meadows) who got turned around and inadvertently tried to climb Twin Peaks thinking it was Matterhorn :confused: :confused:
He was just starting down from Horse Creek Pass around 7pm... maybe an inadvertent night nav exercise.
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Re: TR: Whorl Mtn, 03/04Aug

Postby KathyW » Sun Aug 18, 2013 3:04 pm

Great report. I've been thinking of Whorl lately; so the beta is great. I'll remember to pack some webbing or an accessory cord when I head up there.
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Re: TR: Whorl Mtn, 03/04Aug

Postby J ney » Thu Aug 22, 2013 10:44 am

Thanks Kathy!! It is a great peak... lots of fun. Hope you have a great trip!
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