We had set our departure time for about 5:15, but by the time we all got up, had breakfast and took care of other necessities, we didn't hit the trial until about a quarter of six. The few miles to Chasm Meadows passed quickly and uneventfully and we began the scramble up to Chasm Lake. A reasonable trail exists climbing from behind the patrol cabin up to the lake and a cairned route part way around the north side of the lake. An interesting diversion was a walk long the knife-edged top of a sizable snowbank remaining near the northwest corner of the lake. All in all the scrambling was quite enjoyable. We had a mishap however just before we accessed the Mills Glacier. One of the party members abandoned our ascending traverse in favor of a more direct climb to the top of the boulder slope and dislodged a rather large boulder which struck another of our party on the shoulder yielding a rather painful bruise. All things considered, it could have been much worse; remember to wear your helmets when there's rock (or unwary climbers) above, even when the scrambling seems pretty innocuous.
After some first aid, we got to the edge of Mills Glacier and got our axes out and crampons on. Lambs Slide was in very good condition varying between perfect kick-stepping snow and perfect cramponing snow. Though we had brought ropes, harnesses and pickets for running belays, the snow was such that we never felt a need for them. Later in the year as Lambs Slide turns to ice, a running belay of some sort is well advised. The views of Mt. Lady Washington, the Diamond, Broadway and the surrounding ridges as we ascended were truly awesome. A more majestic mountain setting is hard to imagine. After reaching the top of Lambs Slide, we traversed the top of the Flying Dutchman couloir to the col between Glacier Ridge and the Loft where we stopped for a break. At this time of year, this is apparently marmot-heaven as I have rarely seen this many marmots or ones so noisy. I suspect it must be mating season. Our position gave a great bird's eye view of the rest of our route. The Loft and the slope of Meeker above it were pretty much devoid of snow. The snow slope below the Loft to the east was still quite large though the "Loft Ice" on the cliffs below the snowfield had completely disappeared since the previous weekend.
After about 20 minutes, we traversed over to the Loft and ascended the rocky ridge to Meeker's summit. I am always amazed at how such a mundane-looking peak can have such a scrambly and airy finish to such a small summit. We all made it and anchored ourselves and our packs in for some lunch and summit photos.
Although the "ramp route" down from the Loft had a snow-free path melted out, we opted to rappel from the cliffs at the base of the Loft snowfield. Two of our group tested the snow on the slope and found it passable for plunge-stepping though a bit on the soft side. We established an anchor and the rest of the group came down. We found a huge boulder to sling for our rap but saw quite a few other anchors; most in extremely unlikely and exposed positions. Our conclusion was that there's a GREAT deal more snow on the Loft in winter and these are either rap anchors for winter routes or top-rope anchors for the Loft Ice.
The rappel was pretty much straight down a very slippery waterfall and we all had to take care to keep our legs perpendicular to the rock face. At one point I was surprised and aghast to see (and feel!) my belay device squeegeeing icy water out of the ropes and into my lap! Once down, we were treated to a great, though discontinuous, series of glissades almost all the way down to Chasm Meadows (though the snow was getting pretty sparse in general).
A quick trip back to our Battle Mountain campsite, some quick packing and we were back at the trailhead well before dark. A fun trip for the those wanting a fairly mellow introduction to more (though not fully) technical terrain. Note however that as the year progresses, Lambs Slide becomes progressively more icy and, therefore, technical.
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