Traverse from South to North 5.7

 
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Matthes Crest


Tuolumne Meadows, California USA


Trip Report
Matthes Crest TR - LONG - July 26 2008
Monday July 28, 2008 6:23pm
I climbed Matthes Crest on Saturday south to north. Climbed the entire thing. I'm only going to climb it once and I didn't want to cut it short with the rappel after the north summit. Did the standard approach via cathedral trail and X-countried on the shoulder of Echo where we contoured over to the clump of trees that begins the south-to-north traverse of Matthes. The first part was fun and easy (getting up and over the south and north summits). Once past the north summit, the climbing got harder and a bit weird in spots....wasn't always obvious which way to go.

About this time, we saw a giant plume of smoke. I estimated the smoke to rise maybe 8,000-10,000 feet in the air and it was coming from what appeared to be the Yosemite entrance. The next day, we stopped at the Lone Pine Ranger station to get a back country permit and we found out that gun-play was the cause and the fire had grown to 16,000 acres. The haze made for a bad camera day but we still managed to take quite a few shots.

Anyway, we climbed all the way to the north end of the crest and just kept on hiking up and over the saddle between Echo and Cockscombs. Contoured back towards Cathedral and picked up the trail back to our car.

Drove home Sunday morning and stopped at Keough for a soak (the pools were actually warm). Got home and 5PM and had sex with myself. ONLY KIDDING.......I got home at 6PM.

  Trip Report Views: 1,346
BluntMan
About the Author
BluntMan is a gym climber from Wild Omar, CA.

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nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jul 28, 2008 - 06:34pm PT
Yo BluntMan, nice coincidence! We were up there the same day, quite a dramatic early sunset with those fires.

We took the "stop and smell the flowers" strategy, hiking in Friday, doing the climb Saturday, hiking out Sunday, with noon starts every day. It's a strikingly beautiful place, worthy of a visit even without the superb climbing experience.
BluntMan

Gym climber
Wild Omar, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 28, 2008 - 06:37pm PT
Were you the guys on the north summit around 5 or 6 o'clock??
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jul 28, 2008 - 07:03pm PT
4 to 5pm sounds about right, I waved from the summit register and you or your partner waved back? We hung out there for quite a while.

I do agree the route-finding is not so obvious... there were a few times the horizontal ridge ended with drop-offs and pretty committing and challenging down-climbing, when backtracking would have yielded a way of walking around.
BluntMan

Gym climber
Wild Omar, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 28, 2008 - 07:14pm PT
Yeah....that was us. Too cool. We were wondering where you went. When we got to the saddle of Echo/Cockscomb, we didn't see you so we figured you either rapped or you were way cool and just taking your time. Nice to camp there. I was talking to my partner that there should be a law that allows old f*#ks like me (59) to pirate bivy without penalty. It was a long day for us. Did you do the entire route or did you do the North Summit rappel?
Zander

climber
  Jul 28, 2008 - 07:19pm PT
Thanks for the TR.
I want to do the whole thing too.
Zander
scuffy b

climber
heading slowly NNW
  Jul 28, 2008 - 07:22pm PT
Old f*#ks should be allowed to pirate bivi without penalty.

What could be more obvious?
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Jul 28, 2008 - 07:26pm PT
Man, what a weekend in Toulumne county, for so many of us. I'm an old guy, I pirate camped, all was good. There was a whole crew of pirates, though.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jul 28, 2008 - 07:49pm PT
Busy times in the meadows indeed!

We can't rightfully claim the entire route... we skipped the very last Gendarme before the walk-off. The sky was getting pretty dark, so we opted for a sketchy downclimb (vertical dihedral in hiking boots, rattly finger jams) about 25 feet to someone else's bail slings and then we rapped another 30 feet to slabs. Then we wandered back and forth through the forested valleys and meadows in the dark looking for our tent. I accepted that it was going to be a long cold and misty night in shorts and Hawaiian shirt, as we were telling each other "I don't remember these little trees, or these rocks, or ..." and just then we stumbled upon our tent. Halleluja.
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Jul 29, 2008 - 01:12am PT
pics!
Fletcher

Boulder climber
A very quiet place
  Jul 29, 2008 - 01:59am PT
Then we wandered back and forth through the forested valleys and meadows in the dark looking for our tent. I accepted that it was going to be a long cold and misty night in shorts and Hawaiian shirt, as we were telling each other "I don't remember these little trees, or these rocks, or ..."

Ah, now this dredges up many fond memories! :-)

Fletch

Edit: thanks for the TR. Someday, I'd love to do the whole thing too.
Bill

climber
Chalfant Valley
  Jul 29, 2008 - 02:07am PT
Zander, drop me a line. I have done it twice, but both times my partners wanted to bail at the tower. Would like to finish it.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jul 29, 2008 - 03:40pm PT
The crew:


The mascot:


The route:


The moves (plenty of DFU spots):


More moves (tougher than expected, but really not bad):


The descent (with Yosemite fire smoke plume spreading in background):


And of course there are tons of pics with wildflowers, meadows, creeks, and lakes. Just a wonderful place to spend a few days, like being in the garden of eden.
Fletcher

Boulder climber
A very quiet place
  Jul 29, 2008 - 05:30pm PT
Excellent photos! Thank you for sharing!

Fletch
BluntMan

Gym climber
Wild Omar, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 30, 2008 - 02:00pm PT
Some more pictures of Matthes last weekend in no particular order.























nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Jul 31, 2008 - 08:04pm PT
Hey I've got a couple of questions about Matthes Crest... well really it's a single question with a few sub-questions:

1) What's the deal with all the extra ridge-line south of the supertopo start of Matthes Crest?
1a) There's a long stretch of knife-edge ridge that looks like prime climbing stuff
1b) There's a prominent tower that is not as high as the rest of the South-to-North traverse, but it is very eye-catching from below (it's the pointy one in mid-frame in the panorama ridge shot from BluntMan).

Is all this stuff part of the "standard" ridge traverse and we just skipped it? If it's not part of the "standard" route, why not?
BluntMan

Gym climber
Wild Omar, CA
Author's Reply  Jul 31, 2008 - 10:29pm PT
We hiked up and past the clump of trees (picture 10...about 1" from the edge of the picture) to what we considered to be the start and began the climb on top of a block with some air below us (see picture 1). We figured we may have missed the start by a bit because there was kind of a bouldery start with a little roof move.

We also noticed that there was climbing to the south but figured it must be jingus. Maybe it isn't. Maybe I should have done it. Maybe I need to go back and do it.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Aug 1, 2008 - 08:51pm PT
for a little more clarity to show the southern extremity that seems worthy of climbing...
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
  Sep 8, 2008 - 05:22pm PT
Bumpity!
marky

climber
  Sep 8, 2008 - 05:51pm PT
is there any legal camping around the MC start?
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Sep 8, 2008 - 06:01pm PT
Sure, just get a wilderness permit if you want to be all legal about it. We actually did!
marky

climber
  Sep 8, 2008 - 06:42pm PT
where did you camp?
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Sep 8, 2008 - 07:57pm PT
We set up our tent in a beautiful meadow directly between Tresidder Peak and Echo Peaks. You follow the JMT passsing Cathedral and Eichorn (they're on your left), then a nice meadow with streams and a lake on your right, then up a little hill to the next meadow that should be called "Eden". This is the highest meadow around, and when we went was absolutely beautiful green. I've got a framed blow-up picture on my wall of the radiant green and little tiny streams coming to a confluence.

There is a faint track that heads off left into the center of the meadow- this is like a climber's trail for folks heading to Matthes. We camped at a spot between the forest below echo peaks and a melodious little stream that sang us to sleep. That same melody helped us find the tent in the dark after doing the climb.
HighDesertDJ

Trad climber
  Sep 8, 2008 - 09:28pm PT
As long as you have a permit and are far enough from water you can bivy anywhere over the pass.
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Matthes Crest - Traverse from South to North 5.7 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The Matthes Crest traverse starts at the south end (right) and follows the cockscomb north.
Photo: Greg Barnes
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