The glacier starts with a relatively low angled slop, but later on in the couloir it seemed quite steep. Arun declared that ice axe or crampons are not necessary, and started to walk up on the hardened snow. "Maybe," he said, "I will stop later to take them out." He never did. Nancy took her ice axe out about half way up the glacier, and Ted used crampons and ice axe from about the same place. I used crampons and ice axe from the beginning. True, it was not necessary at first, but as the slop steepened later on, it was a big help. In fact, I was able to catch up with Arun who was kicking steps at the head of the line, even though I took the time to put crampons on. And it was particularly significant given that I was slower then Arun the entire day.
Exiting the couloir early we took the loose and slippery face on the right and carefully made our way on the broken blocks and loose sand to the ridge. We climbed in 2 tight groups with Arun and me first and Nancy and Ted following, which reduced the danger of dropping rocks and debris on each other. As the many reports recommend, helmets are really important here. There ware places we needed to move one person at a time. Once on the ridge the rock is solid. We followed the ridge proper for about 100 yards and than had to drop to the right side for some fun class-3 climbing when the it became narrow and steep. The rock is solid, and the exposure is not too great. Finally we climbed out to the sloppy plateau and made our way to the summit. It was around 1 PM. The views were spectacular, and there was not a cloud in the sky.
Our plan was to have dinner in Mammoth and find a place to crash for the night. And having taken only 5 1/2 hours to summit left more time then we needed to get out. This made for pleasant situation. Often on PCS trips we are on a mad rush at the end of the day to get back to camp or the trailhead before turning into pumpkins (or more likely the sun goes down.) But in this case we took our time -- spending 45 minutes on the summit, taking long breaks, and walking leisurely in between. Still, I have to admit that I pretty much hit the wall on the way out slowing down at the end. We got back to the car around 6 PM.
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