Northeast Gully 5.2

  • Currently 3.0/5

Laurel Mountain

High Sierra, California USA

Trip Report
Laurel Mountain NE Gully
Tuesday September 29, 2009 3:46pm
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 (Sept. 20th) 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 !

Original thread here -

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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
  Sep 29, 2009 - 07:58pm PT
Those are some great photos. This truly is a geolgists dream route: so much wild rock.

The Good Places
  Feb 6, 2014 - 01:05am PT
I have always wanted to go do this scramble

good pics bump

Boulder climber
Institute of Better Bouldering-DirtbagDad Division
  Feb 6, 2014 - 02:30am PT
Thanks again for the trip down memory lane! As I mentioned in the original post, we thought we we going left of the red seam, but somehow ended up to the middle right (yeah, THAT never happens!). All kinds of interesting stuff was experienced, including a hip belay, rivers of moveable talus (including solid granite islands perfect for lunch), and a short pitch up some gully to the summit ridge where we roped up just for fun (this was to the north of the summit confirm we were way off route!). And a marathon descent plunging through powdery scree ending just in darkness.

All in all, it was a classic day in the mountains... who could ask for more?

Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Feb 6, 2014 - 03:03pm PT
Nice bump, never saw this one. I went half-way up one day, just to explore the geology of that beautiful face.

  Feb 6, 2014 - 04:48pm PT
Hey cool TR. Nice helmuts!

Such an attractive peak, I always want to do it but the slog factor scares me into doing something else- great job.
Bruce Morris

Trad climber
Soulsbyville, California
  Feb 6, 2014 - 05:26pm PT
I sure want to solo Laurel next summer. It looks like the kind of beating slog (with some nice slabs) that really attracts me! The photos in this TR show it off to advantage.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Feb 6, 2014 - 06:06pm PT
How did we miss this TR the first time? Thanks for the report, and for the bump.

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Feb 6, 2014 - 08:09pm PT
Nice pics, thank you!!!
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Laurel Mountain - Northeast Gully 5.2 - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The route as seen from Convict Lake.
Photo: Chris McNamara