Mts. Mallory and Irvine

28-29 Oct 2003 - by Ron Hudson

The weather looked good for a last of the season climb. Santa Ana winds had made the Owens Valley like summer even though it was the middle of the fall season. And no snowstorm had yet whitened the summits. So Patty Rambert and I got a permit and hiked up to the far end of Meysan Lake. We got to the lake at 3 PM and camped on its far side on the clean gravel of this blue jewel at 11,600'. It got dark at 5:30, we settled in the tent for a warm, but long mid-autumn night. It did not even get down near freezing this Indian summer weather. An early awakening was in store and we were hiking at 6AM, before sunrise. We went up the gully just south of Mallory's east ridge to the plateau area between Mallory and LeConte, then on to Mallory's summit, second class. I was in shorts and t-shirt on this 13,800' summit. The view was smoky because of fire apparently in the Sequoia area. Next we went down Mallory's east ridge to where we could angle downward to the bowl between Mallory and Irvine. Still second class. Then up Irvine via its SE slope, also class two. Good views of the Whitney area peaks the smoke had mostly blown back north as the wind changed. Then back to the base of the bowl, I took a chance going down the main gully that drains the bowl and ends right near our lake. We had seen it from below, but there was a cliff that I couldn't tell whether it was easily passed. When we got to the cliff I found that it was only a seven foot third class face move. No snow at all in the gully. The remainder of the descent was class two, and we dropped back down to camp by 2 PM. Although the temperature was warm, a stiff breeze was blowing. We broke camp, spent three hours back down the trail listening to the wind howling through the pines (a front coming), and drove off before sunset at 5 PM. It was a nice late season climb with great conditions. Dry, the grass and deciduous plants were all brown, and no insects. Two days later as I write this, it is cold and snowing up there.

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