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Mt. Conness


Tuolumne Meadows, California USA


Trip Report
NW Ridge North Peak and North Ridge Conness - Tuolumne season wind-down
Tuesday October 23, 2012 12:05am
*This TR inspired by the Matthes Instagram TR. Viva le iPhone camera.*

Last weekend my lady and I attempted NW ridge of North Peak but decided to retreat due to snow on the ridge and general sloth. Curiously, the Saddlebag Lake parking lot was completely empty both on arrival and return, but the bear bins were rather full of trash but also items I'd think folks wouldn't want to leave behind. There were no cars in the lot on either arrival or departure but I thought it best to give it the benefit of the doubt and leave things be. More on that later...
Rapping after the class 5 notch.
Rapping after the class 5 notch.
Credit: Stevee B


This weekend I returned with plans to link it up with North Ridge of Conness, hoping the snow would be gone. Lucky me, it was. Unfortunately the temperate weather disappeared with it.

A shot of the ice gullies for the ice climbers looking for updates.
A shot of the ice gullies for the ice climbers looking for updates.
Credit: Stevee B

One big plus of these late October jaunts is the solitude. I saw two sets of backpackers in their tents Cascade lake but not a soul otherwise.
This is where the ridge was snowcrested seven days prior.
This is where the ridge was snowcrested seven days prior.
Credit: Stevee B

Everything was going swimmingly until midway through the first 30' downclimb on Conness. CRAMP! Severe muscle cramps in both legs. I'd only experienced cramps like this on long road bike rides, and this was not a good time.

Temps were low already, freezing my bladder valve, and the wind on this side of the ridge added some bite. I was adequately dressed with everything on but just barely. I needed to keep moving. I downed a couple crampbuster clif bloks and some water and did my best self-massage routine. Silently thinking "that's gonna have to be good enough" I D/C'd the 2nd rap.
Things improved slightly as I continued upward to the summit but I was still pretty spooked. Normally I'd move fairly slowly and methodically but the cramps demanded I move quickly and fluidly through each motion so as not to seize up. Mental note: research cramp prevention sometime this week.

Credit: Stevee B
I had ambitions to drop down and do the West Ridge as well. The energy, food, and daylight were there but sadly time was not on my side. I had promised my lady to pick her up from the airport that evening and the math wasn't adding up. The cramp episode felt like a nudge from the gods as well. Also, I am not a master soloist and the difference between being out here in the summer with the psychological comfort of other folks around vs. being alone in the biting cold was making its impression on me.
Pano from the summit
Pano from the summit
Credit: Stevee B

Time to go down.

Having done the Carnegie institute descent several times I was eager to avoid hiking the road from Sawmill Campground, so I took a stab at the descent off the East Ridge toward Greenstone Lake. I liked it.

Map courtesy of Bob Burd.

Descent gully
Descent gully
Credit: Stevee B
Nicely marked.

I returned to the car early enough to brew some aeropress coffee and make it back to Oakland in time to pick up Kelly from her 9:10 SFO flight.

Coffee time!
Coffee time!
Credit: Stevee B
I also went back through the bear bins to see if any of the goodies survived the week. Scored a nice full tube of sunblock! If you have are missing a mug and can describe it I'll be happy to mail it back to you :-).


  Trip Report Views: 473
Stevee B
About the Author
Stevee B is a climber né canyoneer from Oakland, CA.

Comments
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leamaumind

Social climber
The five Street NewYork NewYork USA 10001
  Oct 23, 2012 - 12:13am PT
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Oct 23, 2012 - 08:42am PT
It's always a pleasure to see that beautiful place.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Oct 23, 2012 - 07:31pm PT
Great stuff, thank you.
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Mt. Conness - North Ridge 5.6 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Photo: Chris McNamara
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Mt. Conness - West Ridge 5.6 - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click for details.
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One of Tuolumne's finest ridge climbs.
Mt. Conness - Southwest Face 5.10c - Tuolumne Meadows, California USA. Click for details.
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Tuolumne's proudest face.