Mt.Emerson

Dark clouds were looming on the horizon. Their intent was clear, wash all the lands beneath as they floated from one mountain to the next. I was looking at the first few moves on the first pitch then looking back over my shoulder, they were a little more closer. Should we wait it out? Are there clearer skies yonder? Jessie and I wondered. The party behind us at the bottom of the boulder field seemed to have turned back. We were wet even before we reached back down to the trail.

*****

Rain poured throughout the night as I tried to sleep in my tent. Memories from last year’s unsuccessful attempt almost flashed in sync with the lightning and thunder. Will tomorrow be hosed as well?

It was the 4th of July long weekend. I left work around lunch and drove up to Bishop to collect back country permits for Deer Lakes and score a camp site at the North Lake camp ground which is near Lake Sabrina. Tomas, Evelina, Igne and Andrius would join me later in the evening. Corinne got mountained after her successful Mt.Sill bid the prior weekend and decided to sit this one out.

The North Lake camp ground is nice and cosy with only 11 sites. I was lucky to score the last available one with a nice stream running next to it. I pitched my tent and played with my new camera some before heading back to town to rendezvous with the rest of the crew.

I remember having a feeling of pure joy as I coasted down the mountain road. The feeling was inexplicable. I guess it was from just being there.

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The rain had stopped by morning. Evelina and I were on the Piute Pass trail by 6:30. Tomas had woken up to see us off. He had more leisurely endeavours planned for the day, perhaps he would welcome us back with some fresh fish.

The trail followed the stream most of the way crossing it a couple of times, gaining elevation gently. Mt.Emerson was in constant view and soon we could easily see the black band which marked the water chute. This was our route. We were off the main trail and on to the boulder field once we were directly below the start of the route. The boulders were dry which was a good sign but I was sure the chute would have water in it. It did. There was no way to climb the 1st 5.4 pitch. We would have to traverse further right towards the gully and make our way up easy 4th-5th class and drop back into the chute where ever it was dry enough. After a couple of pitch lengths we managed to traverse
back left towards the chute. It was still wet but seemed manageable. I climbed up and belayed Evelina through a short slippery section. Rest of the hike up the chute was uneventful. The notch which gains the summit ridge was a lot further than it seemed.

The summit block was guarded by a very precarious looking ridge line with some serious exposure. But once we got on it, it was bomber and extremely fun and well worth the seemingly endless chute hike. There was a really cool looking knife edge section where I wanted to take a photo of Evelina traversing but she was a little too gripped to stop and pose.

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The skies were clear and view from the summit was amazing. Some local climbers from Bishop joined us at the summit and pointed out all the major peaks from the Evolution basin to the Palisades range. Mt.Humphreys next to us soon disappeared into the clouds signalling that it was time to go. We traversed further along the ridge trying to find the best gully to descend into. Once we couldn’t continue any further along the ridge we dropped into the gully and trudged on choss for what seemed like eternity. It was heinous. We were greeted with a lovely view of Piute Pass once we rejoined the trail. Walking back to the trail was blooming with flowers, something we had missed noticing on the way up. They were so pretty!

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Tomas was sun bathing in the meadow of our camp site anxiously awaiting Evelina’s return. Igne and Andrius were getting the fish cleaned which they had caught in the lake by Piute Pass. Evelina and I just brought our appetite. We had fresh fish and burgers for dinner to round off an awesome day. It was great to come back and finally be able to send a fun climb. Now to come back with Jessie and Corinne.

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