John Muir Trail Peak Bagging
31 Jul - 20 Aug 1997 - by Craig Clarence
- Peaks: Columbia Finger, Donahue Peak, Mt Izaak Walton, Mt Reinstein, Saddlehorn, Mt Ruskin, Arrow Peak, Fin Dome, Mt Clarence King, Mt Cotter, Mt Gardiner, Mt Hale, Mt Young
(sorted/filed as Columbia, Donahue, Izaakwalton, Reinstein, Saddlehorn, Ruskin, Arrow, Fin, Clarence, Cotter, Gardiner, Hale, Young)
- Place: California
Too Tired to Climb It, Too Close to Pass It Up"
David Harris and I decided to take a long walk this summer. The JMT, if
followed 100% on trail, is 211 miles long. We took a few scenic and
not-too-scenic detours, making our mileage total closer to 250; we still
found this to be a pretty mild pace over 3 weeks. Lack of food and
motivation kept us on the trail most of the time, but along the way we
managed to climb
| Columbia Finger
| July 31
| Donahue Peak
| August 1
| Mt. Izaac Walton
| August 4
| Mt. Reinstein
| August 8
| August 11
| Mt. Ruskin
| August 11
| Arrow Peak
| August 12
| Fin Dome
| August 14
| Mt. Clarence King
| August 15
| Mt. Cotter
| August 15
| Mt. Gardiner
| August 16
| Mt. Hale
| August 20
| Mt. Young
| August 20
Following is a description of 3 climbs, which do not have descriptions in
Secor or Roper. The other peaks above were climbed using Secor/Roper
descriptions, without incident.
Mt. Reinstein and the Goddard Creek Canyon
After walking up Goddard Canyon, we climbed Mt. Reinstein, which was easy
class 2 from Martha Lake. Then the real fun began. David, whose cross
country ideas got more "creative" as he became delirious from insufficient
calories, came up with a decent down the drainage south of Mt. Reinstein to
the Middle Fork of the Kings River. Unknown territory, several thousand
foot drop, at least 10 miles. I was powerless to resist.
This canyon is unnamed, but contains Goddard Creek. The first 6 miles or
so are rough but OK, compared with what faced us below. The last 3 miles
before the Kings River contained extremely heavy bushwacking, through chest
high manzanita and thorn bushes, often forcing us to stumble down in the
now raging creek. This route involves heavy losses of skin and morale, and
I can't think of a good reason for any human being to be there.
Traverse from Saddlehorn to Mt. Ruskin
This is a fun 4th class traverse on good rock. Saddlehorn is the
impressive spike of rock seen to the west from Taboose Pass, and as we were
camped directly beneath it we had to give it a try. Climbing Saddlehorn
itself involved a few short pitches of solid 5.4ish rock on its east side.
The ridge from there was all 4th class, as is curves around from Saddlehorn
south to become the north ridge of Mt. Ruskin. We were forced off the
ridge a few times to keep the route 4th class, but the climbing was
straightforward and we simul-climbed most of it to the summit of Mt.
Ruskin. Both summits took about 7 hours round trip from our camp by the
headwaters of the Kings River beneath Saddlehorn.
Traverse from Mt. Clarence King to N and S peaks of Mt. Cotter
After an uneventful climb of the South Face of CK, we decided to try the
traverse south along the ridge to Mt. Cotter. This ridge looks very
dramatic from 60 Lakes Basin, with several deep notches, but we had the
rest of the afternoon and though it might go. By staying on or near the
ridge, we managed to summit both the N and S summits of Mt. Cotter. The
climbing was 90% 3/4th class, never got above the 5.3ish range, but was
hideously exposed the whole way. It also involved 2 short rappels to get
around the 2 largest notches on the ridge. We were back in camp by 4pm,
after starting that morning at 6:30am.
This traverse was extremely fun, quick, and the rock was good. It also
avoids the class 2 scree-fest of the easy route on the south side of Mt.
Cotter. The traverse and summit marked another of a remarkable string of
climbs done by Hiep Nguyen (he had walked in to climb with us for the
weekend), who climbs only in Teva sandals and in most cases refuses to use
a rope for climbing or rapelling. You have to see it to believe it.
See also: John's Ruskin report
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