Laurel Mountain NE Gully TR (many pics)


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Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 21, 2009 - 04:58pm PT
I'd been thinking about this route for a couple of months, and wanted to bring my friend Laura along. She hadn't ever soloed class 4 terrain before, so I was unsure of how things would go, and I had heard that using a rope and pro in the gully is pretty much useless. But after Crystal Crag and some more climbing she'd done in Tuolumne, she and I felt she was ready.

Sunday morning we headed out from the Convict Lake trailhead and made our way up to the start of the route.

We spent a bit of time at the 5.2 crux - the first 15' was probably the hardest of the whole route. We were wearing sticky rubber approach shoes, but decided to bust out our climbing shoes for this part.

Afterwards, the climbing shoes stayed in our packs for the rest of the day.

We continued up the gully, alternating on loose flat rock and smooth gully walls.

We were having a blast. It reminded me a little of hiking up canyons in Death Valley. At some point we encountered a steep and wet looking slot, and decided to bypass it on the left using a loose third class chute. This led to some traversing on smooth white slabs to get back into the gully. Here, the gully opened up and we had some expansive views of Convict Lake and Crowley Lake off in the valley.

The rock was also quite interesting in this part -

Soon we came to a red band mentioned in the supertopo writeup and headed left.

This led to another reddish section - still keeping mostly left.

Once past the scree & talus in the red stuff we found ourselves at the base of the slabs. We took a lunch break and I checked the elevation - about 10100', a little over half way up the route. Laura had done the Whitney mountaineer's route car-to-car the previous day and had a pretty good excuse for being kinda beat -- me, I just suck in general :)

What amazing views -

A party of four we'd seen earlier soon overtook us as we lounged .. they were in climbing shoes and moving at a pretty good clip. We later found out they were also from the eastside. The woman in the lead had done the route before, so we kinda followed them from that point.

A friend had told me about the slabs, and I'd been pretty much looking forward to them all day -

That was great. Now for the suckage .. the long plod up the the summit on loose crap -

Pretty tired now we stopped for another break and marvelled at the views.

At some point we decided not to head up the gully and around, but up some kind of class 2-3 thing that seemed to offer marginally better rock. Glad we did, the gully looked awful by this point.

Now for the last push to the top !

The other party was still up there when we arrived. What an excellent day ! We had our snacks and took the usual summit pics.

Woohoo !! We made it. We were pretty beat by then, and just wanted to get back down. So we did.

Looking back ..

We headed down into the "off route cirque" mentioned in the supertopo description. The summitpost page mentions that this part is brushy, but preferable to the scree, etc. in the other descent. We were wearing long pants so the brush wasn't really that bad -- plus Laura (who has an uncanny and almost supernatural sense of direction) found us a nice use trail. Folks wearing shorts might not like it too much, but it worked for us.

Speaking of worked, so were we. This was Laura's first unroped class 4 climb and she totally kicked royal booty, so we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at the Convict Lake resort (highly recommended).

It was a great route, and the rock was highly interesting. I have to imagine the geologists would love this one !

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 21, 2009 - 05:11pm PT
really nice!

Trad climber
Sep 21, 2009 - 05:24pm PT
Nice pic by pic. Sweet looking day!

My yin just might be your yang.
Sep 21, 2009 - 05:26pm PT
"plus Laura (who has an uncanny and almost supernatural sense of direction) found us a nice use trail."

Are you sure she's really named Laura?

Every Laura I've ever met (me included) has had an abysmal sense of direction, and an uncanny tendency to head off in whichever direction would insure their arrival in the supernatural world of spirits far before their time. ;-)

Lovely TR, Rhyang. Thanks for the awesome photos!

Topic Author's Reply - Sep 21, 2009 - 05:35pm PT
Hahaha ! Yes, Laura really is that good. These days on the approach / descent I just follow her ..

Mountain climber
Bishop, CA
Sep 21, 2009 - 06:20pm PT
ME: "Man, I'm pooped."
Sir Robin: "Well, I'm moving like a drunk lizard on acid..."

And that was pretty much the whole day.

What a magnificent route, and thanks, Rob, for bringing me along. I've had this Class 4 gap for a while, and it felt good to fill it a bit and build my confidence. Now I think I have it figured out:

Step 1: Whimper
Step 2: Whimper
Step 3: Deep breath, stop thinking about it
Step 4: Go completely Tourettes for about 5 minutes while the shaking stops...


Rob included most of the pics, but here's the whole set from me:

And the adventures of Brave Sir Robin and Princess Buttercup continue...

Social climber
Sep 21, 2009 - 06:58pm PT
What a swell trip report!
Really nice pics too.

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Sep 21, 2009 - 07:59pm PT
Very fun looking!

As a retiring smoker I really hate long hikes. It's be cool to do that rig in 2 days, maybe bivy where you guys had lunch, then hit the summit at a leisurely pace on day 2, take your time on the summit/descent.

I'm just typing out loud.

Sweet TR though!!!! Cool rock.

Topic Author's Reply - Sep 21, 2009 - 08:42pm PT
Bluering - maybe just give your lungs some time, and slowly build up your aerobic capacity. I kicked the habit in '91 myself by starting a regular jogging schedule. While I no longer jog (for various reasons), there are numerous trails around here to hike and bike all year long. Good luck !

Trad climber
Sep 21, 2009 - 09:56pm PT
Cool TR with some great photos,

Here are a few shots with a different enviroment, perfect neve with a little WI tossed in,
I think around Feb 92'

Doesn't get much better

Trad climber
Sunny Aiea,Hi
Sep 21, 2009 - 10:47pm PT
What a great day for both of you, Well Done! I Thank You for sharing such a fun looking climb that sits out there and waits for all of us.


Trad climber
Sep 21, 2009 - 11:54pm PT
Another great report... thanks! We got off route when we did this a few years back and had a fun day of climbing moving rivers of talus. Still fun!

Nice winter shots, F10!


Topic Author's Reply - Sep 22, 2009 - 10:59am PT
Thanks all ! Wow, nice shots F10 !

Trad climber
Sep 22, 2009 - 11:31am PT

grass pass
Sep 22, 2009 - 10:59pm PT
Nice! This is the real deal. What an adventure. Thanks!

Social climber
Sep 22, 2009 - 11:08pm PT
Way cool F10!

jamais, jamais pays
Sep 22, 2009 - 11:10pm PT
This was the last "mountain" that my wife would climb with me. We got hit by a rock avalanche at about half height (scary but although it went right over us it didn't hit us) and then serious rain on the descent. Since then it has been hiking only.

Nice trip report.

Trad climber
Sep 22, 2009 - 11:30pm PT

The pack I am am wearing in the photo's is one of your's,
Picked it up from your garage down Chula Vista way,
Still using it today, it kicks a##

FROG From Ray Olson's Garage

Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
Sep 23, 2009 - 12:01am PT
SUCH a great TR, nice work. Heading down that way this weekend and Laurel looks so cool. Is that the route that first featured belayed climbing in the early 30's , or some other on that pk?

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Sep 23, 2009 - 12:17am PT
We have to go do some of that stuff soon before the snow gets here. Very nice weather, great rock, and good company!
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