West Ridge 5.6

 
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Mt. Conness


Tuolumne Meadows, California USA


Trip Report
Celebrating 'Murica in the Meadows
Monday July 7, 2014 9:04pm
How can I even post a trip report (let alone my first) about a July 4th trip after another
another micro nut gem. I guess I've got to start somewhere...my boy B (let's say he's in the witness protection program so it doesn't seem like I'm terrible at actually getting pictures of his face) and I have been trying to get up to Tuolumne, really we have. We'd scrubbed plans not once, but twice, on account of work/fatigue/sickness, but our excuses were at an end...to the Meadows!

True hardmen would have made the drive from the Bay to Tuolumne on Thursday night, maybe even climbed something by the light of the stars. We, on the other hand, stopped in Merced for a taste of my grandma's hospitality. Late night ice cream and early morning waffles, with a comfortable bed in between, was a perfect start to the weekend.

To remind ourselves how to climb, we stopped by Tenaya, gateway to the meadows, for an afternoon romp up the Northeast Buttress. Surprisingly not terribly crowded on a holiday afternoon.

up up and way on Tenaya Peak...
up up and way on Tenaya Peak...
Credit: bpope

But that wasn't the main event. Actually, going into the weekend, we weren't sure what our goals would be. Push difficulty? Or get into the backcountry? We decided over supper to brave the supposedly complicated approach and aim for the West Ridge of Mt Conness. I recalled cultureshock's excellent approach beta, and took a trip down to the Mobil in order to download it to my phone, very well worth it.

The hike in was gorgeous, the meadows lush from the continuing snow melt (but not too boggy), and the mosquitos out in full force! Motivation to keep moving, I suppose.

Early in the approach from Sawmill Campground.
Early in the approach from Sawmill Campground.
Credit: bpope

We stayed high crossing the sandy plateau just shy of the Conness summit, and found ourselves looking over gully after gully, wondering which we should head down. Fortunately, we kept heading down far enough and found one marked with cairns and use paths. Not as hard as we feared! (Luke's beta made us think we should aim for the big cairn higher in the plateau, but angling a few hundred yards left and downhill is just fine)

Credit: bpope

Before we knew it, we were at the base. We hadn't seen or heard anyone on the approach, but found a couple parties ahead of us, who had approached from the other direction. It was here we first actually looked at the topos...apparently they're different depending on the book you consult. No worries, all we needed to know was up, and away we went looking for the tastiest climbing we could find! In general, staying right on the ridge was the best, traversing over the void as much as possible.

Credit: bpope

protecting B's identity and capturing a spectacular position
protecting B's identity and capturing a spectacular position
Credit: bpope

Credit: bpope

The climbing was never too hard, but the position and scenery were spectacular. It almost felt like it would never end! The view from the summit was inspiring and started planting seeds for our next trips up and down the range as we enjoyed summit sandwiches (and fended off approaching varmints).

For a 360 degree view from the summit, check this out pan-able panorama (and look down over the Conness Glacier): link to photosynth site

The short trip from the summit back down to the plateau had looked a bit steep on our approach in, but fortunately the snow had melted enough to reveal a trail (though still some cool ridge line, which we hadn't expected). We hoofed it back through the fantastic scenery of the Hall Research Area and back to the car, eager to get to the Mobil before closing (we thought it closed at 8, and made it in time...turns out doors were open until 9).

Dropping back out of the park into the Hall Research Area...the cornic...
Dropping back out of the park into the Hall Research Area...the cornice looked mighty intimidating on the way up!
Credit: bpope

Credit: bpope

Stunning sunset over Mono Lake.
Stunning sunset over Mono Lake.
Credit: bpope

A fantastic day in the mountains, and success all around. And not once have you seen my partner's face. I don't blame him for not wanting to be associated with me. I mean...maintaining his anonymity in the witness protection program.

As for Conness...I don't think I'll head back next weekend, but it was well worth it, and I'd be happy to visit again in a few years. Who knows, maybe for the Harding Route some day?

We celebrated our victory by sleeping in, and then taking a quick trip up Lembert Dome (don't worry, we climbed a little 5.9 to remind ourselves that not all climbing is moderate alpine glory), picnicked in the meadow, and headed home at a reasonable hour (my fault using daylight for driving instead of climbing, not B's...had to have some quality time with my better half to end the holiday weekend). Until next time!

Tuolumne Meadows, from Lembert Dome.
Tuolumne Meadows, from Lembert Dome.
Credit: bpope

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bpope
About the Author
bpope is a climber from Sunnyvale, CA.

Comments
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donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 7, 2014 - 09:18pm PT
Sweet.....put the Harding Route on your short list!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Jul 7, 2014 - 09:28pm PT
very nice day out...
thanks for the post!
Ed H

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
  Jul 7, 2014 - 09:46pm PT
Nice work guys!

Tenya, Conness, Lembert, and family time in one weekend! Getting it done! So stoked on Tuolumne this season.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 8, 2014 - 03:36am PT
Cool, thanks!
Randisi

climber
  Jul 8, 2014 - 05:18am PT
So little snow.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
  Jul 8, 2014 - 05:40am PT
Sweet!
TFPU
Tad
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 8, 2014 - 07:54am PT
You had me at "Ice cream and waffles at grandma's house." That could have been a trip report of its own right there. Great report......but you made a rookie mistake by not posting a photo of those waffles. Well done on a great route and a perfect first write up. Keep em coming. Makes me long for the Tuolumne high and wild.

Thanks for the stoke!

Scott

Credit: micronut
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Jul 8, 2014 - 08:31am PT
Sweeeet!! I've got to get on this one soon. TFPU!
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
  Jul 8, 2014 - 03:12pm PT
I haven't done the West Ridge yet (or finished the Harding Route), will have to remedy that at some point. Thanks for sharing the stoke! I'm surprised how much snow is up there.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Jul 8, 2014 - 04:02pm PT
Thanks for the TR.....Tuolumne, the greatest earth on show!!! I'll be there myself this next weekend, can't wait!

Charlie D.
W.L.

climber
Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
  Jul 8, 2014 - 04:05pm PT
Thanks for boosting the T-Meadows jealousy! #MURICA
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Jul 8, 2014 - 04:50pm PT
Very enjoyable TR. Thanks!
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
  Jul 8, 2014 - 06:08pm PT
Nice!
End of August I'm there! And that one's on the list.

le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 8, 2014 - 06:23pm PT
Nice one, bpope. Real nice.

Agree that you pulled a rookie mistake by not showing the waffles and or grandma's smiling visage. Maybe a privacy issue? Do grandma's have personal rights when it comes to privacy? Grandmas should belong to all of us, especially those of us who don't have ours anymore.

That pull you feel toward the loved ones - what a gift, to live with that. ¿Sabes?

When I reached the top of the West Ridge I promptly puked (the prompt puke trumps the long, drawn-out, post-summit puke), then smiled, then puked some more on the way out. Had linked up with the N Ridge earlier. Altitude got me, not the first or last time.

Hope to see more TR's from you in the future. Or to run into you out there!
bpope

climber
Sunnyvale, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 9, 2014 - 09:56am PT
thanks for all the comments. unfortunately no pictures of the waffles, but here's one of grandma. 92 years young and going strong...a pretty great stopover on the way into the park!

Credit: bpope
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jul 9, 2014 - 11:43am PT
Good job on weekend management, climbing, priorities and TR. TFPU.
PS: Your Photosynth link is great. Thanks.
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Mt. Conness - West Ridge 5.6 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
One of Tuolumne's finest ridge climbs.
Photo: Greg Barnes
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Tuolumne's proudest face.