Lyell and Maclure

23 Jul 1998 - by Rich Calliger

The trip personnel consisted of Joe S.,Tony C. (fearless organizer and permit-reserver), Rich C. (aka Atononi the fearless permit fetcher), Barbara B., Dennis, and Pat I.

The trip goals included as many of Florence, Lyell and Maclure, Donahue, etc as we could accomplish.

We affected a perfect rendezvous at Camp 9 on Highway 120 (east of the green bridge in case you do not know where it is located) after Barbara and I (the first two cohorts on the scene drove past each other twice). By 10PM we were all in camp and after a few stories and jokes and a great many laughs, fell asleep tentless under the stars as we all decided the bug conditions were great and there was only a small chance of rain. Barbara opted for the parking lot as Tony, Dennis, Pat and I climbed the hill above 120 for a more isolated spot I had scouted on previous trips.

We all arose between 5 & 6 AM, got our gear ready and made it to high camp up Lyell Canyon (10,100 or so) with full packs (some "more-full" ) by 4 PM to relax, set camp and enjoy the wonderfull surprise of a fresh salad put together by Joe including an awfully good (no fat-free here!!!) Bernstein's dressing. What a treat!!!

Great job Joe! Most everyone else arrived in camp by 6:15PM after their enjoyment of the splendid views of Lyell Creek/canyon and the obligatory short trail naps.

Our high camp was next to the headwaters of Lyell creek and provided a good easy supply of fresh water which a few if us dipped (--no Giardia here??) our water bottles directly in. We did debate climbing higher to set camp at the benches up at about 11,000 or so feet. However, we could not see their snow-state clearly and decided to stay at the headwaters- an excellent decision as it turned out the rest of our party would not have seen us that high from the trail and we had more time to relax in preparation for the next day's events.

BTW- Our climb up the canyon was beautiful, the sun being somewhat occluded by intermittent clouds keep temps into the high 70's instead of the previous weeks 85-90's. Overall the weather in Yosemite was awesome, some thunderboomers that never materialized any rain provided for some discussion. Conditions on the summits next day were picture perfect- no wind and the clouds burnt off. The streams were a little lower than last week and the only serious stream had substantial logs across.

My crampon strap broke on the ascent up Lyell. Fortunately I was on a slope with good run-out and I was able to use my ice-axe strap to repair it temporarily. Is this another point in favor of step-ins??? However, the repair was made in the field, could the same be done for step-ins? It was sufficient to climb a smaller peak but I would not trust the repair on a long glacier, for example. I was scared coming back down as the repair strap had to be tightened every few minutes...so..off to $pend more and go back to step-ins maybe. I appreciate everyone's comments on the last crampon thread even more-so now as I bent over on the snow and ice slope gingerly to replace the strap after chopping out a flat bench in the snow and ice with my ice-axe.

Does anyone know the peak located two over from Lyell? It has a staircase slab arrangement to the summit similar to Maclure(sp?) ...on top I could see Lyell ...but it is not Maclure apparently??? I think it was pretty close to a 13'er but could have been 12.5. It is southeast of Lyell. I don't have a topo of the area so any help would be appreciated.

BTW- the small 'schrund had opened up only about a foot on the route I took, so it was easy to climb over although the move was steep and a little exposed, as I peered down into the depths between the wall and the snow. I very carefully had my back to the stone of the peak and my feet on the snow bridging the gap as I edged over to the nearest notch to obtain the rock ledges to the summit. The climb up was easy class 3 however there was still a little black ice on the rock to watch-out for.

Other observations:

Waugh Lake is free of ice probably because it was drained in the fall. Donahue Pass was pretty clear as reported last week.

Some pretty good glissades were had coming down- I went almost but not quite the 1000 feet I think Tony did.

All-in-all it was an excellent trip, there was good camaraderie with everyone and some awesome views of Yosemite were seen from the summit including the Donahue area, the lakes near the pass, the spectacular reflections off the water dancing and shimmering in the late morning sun as I stretched out behind the summit block to relax a bit before fearfully & nervously descending, watching closely my left crampon. The snow and patchy ice were still hard enuf at 11AM to need crampons; however, if pressed, one could edge down reasonably safely.

I look forward to a repeat of Yosemite again next weekend when we will explore the Conness route from the southwest, my 8th trip so far this year to Yosemite..I should just move there maybe!- but with all the water from el Nino the flowers and overall area are the freshest and "cleanest" and most spectacular I have seen in over 15 years- well worth the time to go IMO.

Oh- upon my return I took a short dip in Lake Tenaya.... it was a **very short** = icy cold still, but very refreshing as the sun had warmed up the air by then so recovery was quick.

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