Dade and the Pipsqueak Kid

17-18 Jun 2005 - by Steve Curry

This hike was originally scheduled as a Sierra Club sponsored trip with Asher Waxman leading and RJ Secor assisting. RJ and then Asher had to drop out so we made it a private trip. Participants were Steve Curry(scribe), Dean Bosen and Ted Tassop.

Conditions on June 17-19, 2005.

  1. The road to Mosquito Flats TH is open.
  2. Snow cover became continuous at 10,600' on the cross country between Long and Treasure Lakes.
  3. Treasure Lakes were mostly frozen.
  4. Snow conditions were well consolidated in the Hourglass and Cox col and excellent for climbing and descending with crampons and ice ax .

We hiked in Friday after obtaining our permit at Whitney Ranger station on the drive north from LA. We departed the TH at 4 pm and arrived at Treasure Lakes at 7:15 pm; set up camp, ate dinner and got to bed around 10 pm.

We left our camp at Treasure Lakes at 7:30 am and climbed the Hourglass, under beautiful conditions. Dade was summitted from 11:00 am (Ted and Dean) to 11:30 am (Steve) and departed at noon. Downclimbing Dade to the Hourglass took 45 minutes across scree, boulders and some snow.

Ascending Pipsqueak took Ted about 1 and 1/4 hours and Steve and Dean about 2 hours. Great cl.3 climbing on Pipsqueak from the Hourglass. It's clean rock with foot and hand positions where necessary and boulder hopping otherwise. Beautiful with the Little Lakes Valley as a backdrop. Ted topped Pip at 2:00 pm, touched the summit and was off to bag BCS.

Steve and Dean arrived at 2:30 pm, Dean touched the summit, Steve climbed the awkward chimney on the NW side and sat on the summit. Ted says he saw me sitting there from his position on BCS. I thought about leaving a register on Pipsqueak Peak, Nalgene bottle with a pencil and a notebook but didn't. I really liked the climb though.

The traverse between Pipqueak and BCS for Dean and me was a struggle with snow, ice and large blocks. Ted stayed on the ridge and had a better traverse. We descended about 25-50' on the East side and it wasn't pretty. I managed to drop and lose my crampons somewhere on that traverse and didn't learn of this until we were getting ready to descend Cox Col later in the day.

Regarding the ridge between Pipsqueak and BCS- downclimbing to the west was recommended in BobBurd'sTR on Dade,, the ridge being cl.3-4 and lower to the west cl.2. We didn't go low enough. We descended maybe 40' whereas going down 100'-150' would have gotten us onto the cl.2. The ridge was the best route, as the lower slope with ice and snow between the boulders made the traverse more difficult, whereas running the ridge, where the consolidated snow between the boulders was helpful, went quicker for Ted.

Dean and Steve arrived at Cox Col around 3:45 pm and spotted Ted about 1/4 of the way from the top of BCS. We elected to stay at the Col and wait for Ted to descend with us. Ted summitted at 4 pm. We saw him at the summit. It was an excellent sight and I'm sure a victory for him, and us as well. So, we waited for Ted at the top of the col.

I went back a little to look for my missing crampons. When I got back to Dean's position, Dean said he had seen Ted and he should have shown up by then (5:15 pm) but that he hadn't. We shouted to him several times. Got a response on the first shout so waited another 15 minutes, no Ted. I went over to the base of BCS on the col and saw Ted's tracks descending the col. He hadn't seen us on descending and thought we had gone back to camp so he left while we waited, hence, Ted gets back to camp at around 6:00 pm and Steve and Dean roll in around 7:30 pm. Live and learn. We waited at the top middle of the col, it has a shape like a recurved bow, and Ted descended from the low spot of the col nearest BCS. Ted had been becoming dehydrated he reported, having run out of water on BCS. He ate some snow and ice on his descent.

The weather was fantastic the entire weekend given that there were reports of possible rain/snow. Friday night the wind did blow fierce, estimated at 50 mph but we had a well protected campsite in the trees in the middle area between the lakes. A nice spot slightly cramped with 3 but the best we found.

Sunday we hiked out, 8 am to 10:30 am. Steve slipped on ice twice and fell. There were patches of snow and ice on the well defined trail into Little Lakes Valley. Hiking poles probably would have helped me there. Or the Yaktracs I left in the car.

Oh, and we missed on the exit to the cross country part of our entrance. I mistook Box Lake for Long Lake and added probably an extra 3/4 of a mile to our cross country travel. Oops!

BCS looked great. I have to go back. If I'd thought about it at the time, I'd have realized that there was no better time to do it than then. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

I'm definitely going back up Little Lake Valley. It's beautiful and so readily accessible. Perhaps BCS as a day hike next time. Abbot and Mills also look like possibilities for a day hike or stringing several together for a weekend.

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