Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout-Trip Report

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Harlen
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Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout-Trip Report

Post by Harlen » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:33 pm

Returned Monday- 9/16, from a pretty wild ride around the Cathedral Range. My Aussie friend wanted to try to pull off one more climb before returning to his working world in OZ. He works in the odd field of "Rope Access," meaning he hangs from ropes doing all manner of exciting work on tall buildings, oil derricks, and bridges. Therefore, I knew he would have no problem with the crazy exposure on Matthes Crest, and so that was the climb I proposed. Here's how it went:

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We arrived at the Cathedral Lakes TH at 10 PM on Sunday, and set off into the moonlight with the usual packs, plus 25 pounds of rope, alpine rack, etc. I saw great green eye-shine in the first half-mile, and really hoped it was a friendly bear. Turned into a big buck deer, which was awfully nice too. Crossed Cathedral Pass around 1AM, and set up a camp just north of Echo Lake.

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Camp with some of the nicest Echo Peaks in the background. We were in bed by 3AM, and set to go at 6:30 AM in the hopes of outrunning the predicted wind and rain/snow which was coming on in the late morning.

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Cameron on the shore of Echo Lake.

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Halfway up the very first pitch (the usual southern approach) we entered the fascinating rock wall, and an infuriating "moderate gale." Trying to avoid my miserable small rock shoes for as long as possible, I was clomping up the ridge in my big Trangos. I asked for the rope to be tossed down, and my end sailed off toward Mono Lake! No hope. Everything- slings, runners, even the cams on cords, were flapping and flailing about! Cameron had to rappel down to about 15' away to get me the rope. Up the cracks was okay, but when it transitioned into friction balancing up on big feldspar crystals, it was a lost cause. The steep peak in the middle frame is one of the cruxes of the route, and the only way across the top of it in wind like this would've been to slither like lizards. Bail.

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Cameron at the end of the rap-off bailout; obviously stoked to be out of the wind- which had turned from an almost constant gusting at ~ 35 knots, to a steady, roaring gale of ~40+ knots! We couldn't hear each other from 15 feet away, and if you know the nature of Matthes Crest, you can imagine that high wind will ruin the beauty of dancing lightly along the wildly exposed crest of this half-mile mountain ridge.

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Part of the Beaufort Wind Scale describes a moderate gale thus: "inconvenience felt when walking against wind." As it moves up to a true gale, it reads: "generally impedes progress." I would add: "and can blow your ass right off a mountain!"

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This odd image shows the length of Matthes Crest. Cam likes to take these weird panoramas, which distort wildly- note the new "horseshoe shape" of Echo Lake. Note too that it somehow distorted me in such a way as to imply that I am afflicted with a bald patch!

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Here is the undistorted image, with my hair properly restored, and blowing in the wind. :nod:

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We had a wonderful consolation hike over the shoulder of the most mountainous of the Echo Peaks, and then down to Budd Lake- off trail, and with stunning views of Cathedral Peak.... still being blown about on every rise.

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Looking east, with The Unicorn at center, seen at its broadest.

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The classic southeast buttress of Cathedral.

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The rough weather was beautiful, and a pleasure to watch on flat ground. The cold rain finally caught up to us near the bottom of Budd Creek. So the rain and snowfall held off, but the wind blasted us off. For awhile we tried to stick it, but absolutely freezing hands and faces, and the thought of crouching along the arete, caused us to seek the alternative pleasures of a micro-brewery. We'll be back one fine day.
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Last edited by Harlen on Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.








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Harlen
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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout Report

Post by Harlen » Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:07 am

Hey Mav,

I see below under "similar topics" that you have a favorite image of Matthes Crest taken from the wonderful vantage of the north end of the ridge. I am speaking of your post from Feb. 10, 2010. I was unable to access your photo; can you include that beautiful image in a Comment tacked onto my Post? It would be nice for folks to see the real beauty of the Crest, since I can only provide weak images from below it. Thanks Maverick, Ian.

[Matthes Crest
by maverick » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:34 pm » in High Sierra Photography / Videography]

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c9h13no3
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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout Report

Post by c9h13no3 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:23 am

Sounds cold. And yeah, the Echo Peaks were one of the windiest places I've ever climbed, and there weren't gales in the forecast :P

The rock out that way is flippin' fantastic though. Makes me want to climb everything out there.
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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout Report

Post by Harlen » Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:54 pm

c9h13no3 wrote:
Sounds cold. And yeah, the Echo Peaks were one of the windiest places I've ever climbed, and there weren't gales in the forecast
Indeed! We were most concerned about the incoming rain/snowfall predicted to come in around 11 AM, and not particularly about the wind. That's why we went to such pains to hike in during the night, and then get up so darn early for the start! The wind sock symbol on NOAA was up, but I think it said 15 knots or so. In other words- nothing to worry about. I know wind from working on boats, and this was gusting in the 40 knot zone for sure. That is- hard to stand up through gusts without being blown out of your stance. I wonder how accurate the NOAA site is with regard to wind? I feel I have been well served in general by the NOAA weather site predictions, but this was a real drag! So stoked to finally do this classic climb, and then to be totally blown off of it!

Anyhow, thanks for your comments c9h13no3 (is that your real name?) Best of luck in your climbing back of Bridgeport next week... Sawtooth Ridge, Matterhorn?, or perhaps "The Hulk"?! Ian.
Last edited by Harlen on Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout Report

Post by c9h13no3 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:15 pm

Harlen wrote:
Fri Sep 20, 2019 7:54 pm
Anyhow, thanks for your comments c9h13no3 (is that your real name?) Best of luck in your climbing back of Bridgeport next week... Sawtooth Ridge, Matterhorn?, or perhaps "The Hulk"?! Ian.
It's been my name on the internet since the 90's. And some friends are going up Matterhorn as a day hike. I figured I'd join them & go up Whorl while I'm out that way since I've already been up the 'horn.
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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout-Trip Report

Post by oldranger » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:13 pm

Should have stopped to see Markskor Monday Night. We had a heck of a dinner party at his place despite an area wide power outage (Mammoth, Levining, and TM) and cold and wind.
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Harlen
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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout-Trip Report

Post by Harlen » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:43 pm

I wrote:
I feel I have been well served in general by the NOAA weather site predictions, but this was a real drag! So stoked to finally do this classic climb, and then to be totally blown off of it!
I wonder what other's experiences have been with NOAA predictions? WD noted that their value drops of with time, but for example on the Matthes Crest trip, we experienced wind speed perhaps 3X the predicted 15 MPH- and that was early on the 2nd day of their prediction! I feel like I have also experienced fairly wide discrepancies with regard to lowest temps while on ski trips in T Meadows. When compared to the Yosemite met. station data documented by the winter rangers up there, there have been differences of up to 14º, which does matter when the difference was between 0 and -14º F.

So what are some of the other weather stations you would recommend? Thanks.

Old ranger wrote:
Should have stopped to see Markskor Monday Night. We had a heck of a dinner party at his place despite an area wide power outage (Mammoth, Lee Vining, and TM) and cold and wind.
That would have been great catharsis- were there beverages? We were dehydrated of course. :drinkers:

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henryfk
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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout-Trip Report

Post by henryfk » Mon Jun 01, 2020 9:42 am

If you want to attempt this again this season, pending Yosemite opening, I'd been keen. Done a ton of stuff in Tuolumne over the years though this has evaded for many of us.

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Re: Matthes Crest Wind Fest/Bailout-Trip Report

Post by Harlen » Mon Jun 01, 2020 10:04 am

With luck, I'll be free of obligations by the middle of this month. That would be great Henry! (*sorry Bearzy.)

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