Cibule Udolia a d'alej
(Onion Valley and Beyond)

2-4 Jul 2010 - by Aaron Schuman

If I had titled this trip report in English instead of Slovak, I would have called it "Onion Valley and Beyond". But the English language wouldn't capture the international feel of our Independence Weekend outing to the east side of Kings Canyon National Park.

Jim Wholey, Louise Wholey and I swooped down in the Air Wholey Beechcraft Bonanza. What an amazing close-up view of Mammoth Pass! On the drive up from Bishop, we passed a herd of antelopes, an uncommon sight in the Owens Valley.

As we hiked up from Onion Valley to Kearsarge Pass, we met a group of five young travelers from Slovakia. They were in California with the highest priorities. Their plan was just to hike to the park boundary, but we offered to escort them to Mount Gould (13005). Vladimir Ritomsky, Jana Vesela and Rastislav Cakoci accepted our offer, and climbed their first big mountain.


Mount Gould is a quick walk-up from Kearsarge Pass, but the summit block is a thrilling class 3 climb with a tremendous drop-off on one side. It was a great introduction to the Sierra Nevada for our new friends. The hero photo shows Jana, Vladimir, Louise, Rasti, and Jim. I'm the one holding the camera.

Back at Kearsarge Pass, we exchanged Face Book info and said our farewells. We stayed in touch, but I've needed Google Translate from time to time.

Jim, Louise and I walked down to the Kearsarge Lakes and made camp. Jim attempted to charm a trout out of the water, but the lake was over-fished.

Sunday morning, we hiked out to Mount Bago (11868). When we reached the bowl, we saved elevation by traversing, but in retrospect it would have been quicker to drop down to the flat bottom. The summit of Mount Bago is a hands-in-pockets stroll, as long as you can stay clear of the evergreen brush. It has a dazzling view into the headwaters of Bubb's Creek. In spite of the sandy top, the mountain did have a cornice in early July. I found a cut through the snow, but it was not necessarily the safest path for Jim and Louise to follow. Call it yet another learning experience.

Back on the trail, Jim split off and returned to our camp at Kearsarge Lakes. Louise and I headed up Mount Rixford (12890). It's a long and pleasant talus slope with a broad mountaintop. We descended the north slope as the snow hardened up in the late afternoon shadow, using standing glissade and plunge step.

Wild country! As we hiked out on Monday, we savored the forest abundant with deer, marmots, pikas, sage grouse, magpie, and rosy-breasted finch.

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