Three friends and I attempted the summits of Mt Williamson and Mt Tyndall over 4th of July weekend. We drove through Yosemite on Wednesday night and camped on the east side. After breakfast at Whiskey Creek (great place) in Big Pine, we reached the trailhead around 10 am on Thursday.
We set off at a pretty good pace, reaching the top of the switchbacks in time for lunch. Then we hiked down and back up to Anvil Camp. My partner and I had decided not to bring a tent so we were stuck fending off the little biting flies until dark. The mosquitoes weren't too bad, and we were able to get a good night's sleep. But when the sun came up, the flies were back so we hurried to get out of Anvil camp and up to Shepherd's Pass.
The snow field right below Shepherd's Pass was a little soft but not too bad, so we used crampons to climb up the last 200 feet. By 11:30, we had set up camp a little shy of the Williamson bowl. After lunch, three of us set off to climb Tyndall. Basically, this consisted of hiking up a huge field of boulders.
It took my partner and I about 2 hours to get to the summit ridge. At this point, we weren't exactly sure where to go. We ended up climbing down through a notch into a steep gully. From that point, it was obvious that we would have to climb another 500 feet down and then back up in order to gain the summit. We decided that we would be better off saving our energy for Williamson so, with some difficulty, we climbed back up onto the summit ridge then down off the mountain.
When we got back to camp, we consulted our guide book and discovered that we should have just turned to the right when we first reached the ridge and scrambled across to the summit. Oh well, Tyndall will still be there for the next time.
We got up around 6 am on Saturday morning and headed off toward Williamson. It took us about 90 minutes to hike over to the base of the mountain. We climbed up over lots of boulders, staying a bit to the right of the main gully. We didn't bring crampons or ice axes, so we stayed off the snow. The climbing wasn't too difficult, although I did feel like I was hanging out over nothing a few times. We had to wait our turn to climb up into the chimney. I was a little nervous because I had no actual rock climbing experience, but it turned out to be pretty easy. I think I used the "scoot-on-your-butt" method that Tony Cruz described. After that, we climbed over a few more boulders and we were on the summit - with about 20 other people including some from the PCS.
One of the members of my group was feeling poorly, so we headed right back down. It ended up taking us 4 and a half hours from camp to summit and 3 and a half hours to get back.
On Sunday, we packed up and hiked out. It took us a lot longer to get out than we thought it would - 5 hours from camp to the trailhead. We were back at the car by about noon.