A Fall Classic: Taylor and Sirretta

18-19 Oct 2003 - by Greg Johnson

On the weekend of October 18 - 19 I organized a climb to introduce a friend to peak bagging in the Sierra. We planned on climbing Taylor Dome and Sirretta Peak. I had already climbed Rockhouse on a previous PCS trip so it wasn't on my agenda. If we did both peaks on Saturday then on Sunday I planned on climbing a nearby HPS peak. I extended invitations to several people and as it turned out my inexperienced friend canceled and I was instead joined by another friend and long time climbing partner Tony Cruz.

Tony and I agreed to meet at the southern Manter Meadow trailhead on Saturday morning. I drove up on Friday night and bivied nearby. Saturday morning Tony found me before I had a chance to relocate to the trailhead. Shortly thereafter we were on our way down the trail to Taylor Dome. According to my map this trail should have taken us just below Taylor Dome. It didn't take us very long to lose the trail. We soon found ourselves travelling cross country from one rocky outcropping to the next until we arrived at the base of Taylor Dome.

Scrambling around the rocky base of the twin summits we finally found the route from the North. Class 2 doesn't quite fit the scrambling we encountered. Especially crossing an open space between the two summits which required an interesting combination of stemming and a dynamic move.

From the summit we got a full view of the surrounding area of forest, large meadows, and rocky domes. We could see Rockhouse on the edge of the Domeland Wilderness, Sirretta Peak nearby, and Olancha looming in the distance. We contemplated a cross country trip to Rockhouse since Tony hadn't done it yet. But as we consumed our limited supply of food and water Tony decided to save it for another day.

A direct line back to Big Meadow is practical but inefficient. Our rollercoaster of a walk through the trees wore us both out and took much longer than expected. However, we managed to find the road around Big Meadow about a quarter of a mile south of our vehicles. Over a late afternoon lunch we decide to postpone our plans for Sirretta, saving it for Sunday.

We drove over to the Sirretta trailhead and established our campsite for the night. After dinner I surprised Tony with a couple of beers and we kicked back and listened to the World Series on our car radios.

Sunday morning we set out for Sirretta . This is a pleasant hike up a well graded trail. At the saddle there is a highly ducked use trail all the way to the summit. The views were just as nice as the day before and this time we noted Langley on the horizon. It was amusing to find a man made an addition to the summit block three feet high rounding out the elevation 9980'.

From the summit rather than hike back to the Saddle we dropped off the ridge down the east slope on a direct route back to the trail. Our route was not too steep and required very little bushwacking through manzanita thus saving us some time.

We were almost back to the trailhead when Tony spotted a bear cub crossing our trail. I fretted about getting between a cub and it's mother. Tony figured the cub was headed in it's mother's direction after it spotted us. A little further up the trail Tony again spied the cub. Except it wasn't the cub! It was the mother peering over a log at us. Tony was right though, that cub was headed to Mama.

After sighting the bears it occurred to us that maybe leaving our food in our cars wasn't such a good idea.

I find October to be a great time of year to hike in the Sierra. This weekend was no exception. As usual we were rewarded with great weather, few people, no bugs, and some Fall color.

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