North Peak (NE Couloir) and Mt Dana

3 Sep 2000 - by Michael Gordon

Alois Smrz and I soloed the farthest left NE Couloir on North Peak on Sept 3. Ice conditions were wonderful, and will take screws. Spindrift poured down the left side of the gully as we readied to climb. The couloir itself was covered in three or so inches of new snow from Friday's storm. We topped out from the gully in an hour and were greeted by cold, blustery winds. The traverse to the summit chute had us postholing (!!) through new, shin-deep drifted snow. Another hour later we were standing on the summit in arctic conditions. The summit boulders were covered in four inches of rime, as was the whole west/southwest slope. Incredible views. Car-to-car in 7.5 hours.

On Sunday, Shauna Hermes and I walked up Mt. Dana in even colder and windier conditions. After an 11am alpine start, we caught and passed every party in front of us - all turning around at the 12k (approx.) plateau below the summit. The summit - and nearly the whole mountain - belonged to only Shauna and I. My guess is the summit temp (w/ windchill) was at least 0 or sub-zero. Beautiful, winter-like conditions well before the coming of a calendar Autumn. Views were astounding, especially to the west where we could see more inclement weather mostly traveling north/northeast. At times, Cathedral, Fairview Dome, Conness, and even North Peak were getting socked in, but our hill remained clear. Car-to-car in five hours.

Another beautiful weekend in the High Sierra. Ding-ding: Autumn has arrived in the high country.

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