Kearsage Peak

4 Jul 1997 - by Arun Mahajan

This peak should really be named as 'big slag heap' or as the ancients would say 'heap big-slag'. No wonder it is not often climbed.

Stephan Meier and I, Arun Mahajan, started walking up this 12596 ft peak at 10 am on Independence Day, from the Onion Valley campgrounds at the end of the Onion Valley road. Our plan was to climb it from the south-east side by a route that has not been described at great length by Secor/Roper. We wanted to climb it to get some altitude acclimatization for our big hike on the next day.

To start, we walked back on the road from the OV parking lot about half a mile and took the dirt road on the left that rises abruptly from the paved OV road. There is a small excuse of a trail that starts from this road leading towards a steep canyon wall that has a longer scree route up top or a loose rock+scree route which is shorter. Choose your punishment. We choose to go the shorter route and managed to reach the top of the ridge without hurting each other by the rocks we dislodged. Once on the ridge, we spotted a very obvious trail and followed it almost upto the top as it meandered thru brush and a small pine forest till it sort of disappeared in the boulder field near the summit. At that point it was not obvious which was the actual peak as there were a few peaklets jutting out into the sky. We continued on the summit ridge line till the highest point, where thankfully there was a register box tucked away in the rocks. Some class-2 stuff on the ridge, but it can be avoided by staying lower on the right.

There were only two other entries this year. A staggeringly popular peak. However, the views from the top are decent, especially the stunning view of the north side of Williamson with it's fluted pillars that look like they are guarding it's summit. Dragon Peak and I think Mt Mary Austin could be spotted also. A not-so-stunning view of the OV Parking lot below rounds off the peak experience.

We walked down the trail and then choose to slither and slip on the longer scree slope on the way down. The climb up and the inelegant descent was a total of about 7 hours. I think we got a harder work-out than we had expected.

That night we met up with Scott Kreider and Marilyn Hurley and then the next day we participated in the procession that goes up Mt Whitney on the Mt Whitney trail. All four of us summitted.

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