Lone Pine Peak 3/2/13
Over the past few weeks my friend Sam and I had been planning to climb the south face of Lone Pine Peak. Our route was the MSMR to the Summer Ridge. I’d been watching the weather which had been in the 60’s in Lone Pine and in the mid 30’s in the high country. We made the call to go, so at 8:30 pm after Sam got off work, we drove down to Lone Pine making it there by 1:00 am.
We got out of bed by 6:00 am or so and headed straight to the trailhead and made eggs and sausage while watching first light hit the South Face. We talked about what to bring, we needed to be super light knowing that everything we took had to go up the route. Seeing that there wasn’t much snow we opted for approach shoes with gaiters instead of mountain boots, grabbed the smallest pack, one water bottle, 13 draws, a few slings, 5 cams and a thin 70m rope. It seemed a little light but Sam was not concerned having done the route a few years before. At 8:30 am we started the hike.
Sam is a machine, always trying to push himself. Whether he’s riding his bike from Alaska to Argentina, running 100 miles, or doing scary run-out routes. I can always trust that when I go on a trip with Sam I will always be pressed to climb harder and maybe get a little sandbagged. Myself on the other hand far less fit, currently spending most of my time working or driving to work and to make things worse I’d been having dizzy spells that were making me have head rushes and vertigo. I’d been to the doctor a few days prier, got pills and was hoping that my spins would stop. Waking up that morning I started spinning out so I told Sam he may have to lead the hard parts mostly to save time and so I didn’t take an unwanted long fall.
The start of the trail was a nice little hike up to the stone house which turned into a thrash, one foot of snow covering slabs, brush, and talus. We moved fast getting to the base within a few hours. On the way up I had been looking for the creek but after crossing the whole valley the creek was not to be seen. Sam, sure that he could find water, took off with the water bottle and ran off top speed. Meanwhile I went to dig a hole and to find my make shift Ice Axe, preferably a nice slender sharp rock.
The approach gully was fun, hard pack snow with rock steps here and there. It would have been great with boots and an axe. Having none of these, we moved on with tennis shoes and rocks in hand, climbing up past a few rotten ice patches and arrived at the first notch the start of the MSMR route. Sam moved up a short easy step as I watched. I started to get Vertigo and I called up to Sam for a belay. I met up with Sam on a nice sunny ledge and told him that he was going to have to lead for a while. The route ahead looked great, a couple easy pitches, and then 3 hard slab pitches up a perfect dike. Sam led fast and I tried to follow as fast as possible. Within a few hours we reached the junction of the summer ridge. After gaining the ridge we, simul-climbed the next 200 meters. It was a great change of pace a long low angle ridge climb with a bit of snow for spice. An hour or so later we reached the junction of the winter route. From the notch we went straight up for 2 moderate 75m to 80m pitches which topped us out. The views were great the wind was calm and the sun was still out!
The decent was even more of a thrash and we were happy to start hiking down in daylight. The decent had a lot of knee to waist deep snow with patches of hard packed snow. Once it started to get dark we hit the sand hills and the speed picked up. We quickly got to Tuttle Creek and drank strait out of the creek. The water was good but the beer was not far away, just a short but steep 15 minute thrash up through the rose brush and talus. To our dismay on arrival the beer was warm but with a strong thirst we drank all of them and life was good.
The South Face is a great wall with great views. I was glad to have done the whole route. Our car to car time was 10 hours. Thank you Sam for getting it done, you had it wired and that’s why it went so fast.