The Hero of Giraud

17-18 Aug 2013 - by Aaron Schuman

Where were y'all on August 18, 2013? Somehow Lisa Barboza and I were the entire Sierra Club outing to Giraud Peak that day. We had come up the day before over Bishop Pass. The trip photo, taken on my camera by a weird guy we met on the trail, is of us two with a couple of eager JMT trekkers who we drove up from the ranger station to South Lake. Our destination looms in the background.


We camped Saturday night at windswept Lake 12K, with Chris Kantarjiev, Eszter Tompos, and Burtt Bogley. They had just finished a climb of Mt Agassiz. Adventurous trio; we need them in the PCS.

At first light on Sunday we bopped down Dusy Basin to where the north ridge of Giraud meets the trail. It was easy class 2 up the ridge to the notch. The ridge continues to a subsidiary eastern peak, but we exited to the right, into a bowl. We scrambled over big boulders until the bowl turned into sand and rubble. We hugged the wall on the left and crossed the ridge into the watershed of the Palisade Basin. Following advice in Secor's guide and several trip reports, we dropped 100 meters and traversed right, looking for the class 2 chute that leads to the summit. The southeast face offers several chutes, and the trip reports are vague about which one to take. A bit of searching led us to the third major chute, the one that arises from the lake. With only a few brief class 3 excursions, we shot to the top. We were the only people to climb Giraud Peak so far this year, but you still have time to follow us there.

We watched thunderstorms build over LeConte Canyon and over Piute Pass. We didn't linger on our mountaintop. By the time we returned to the ridge crossing, lightning was dazzling Devil's Crag, Black Giant, Mt Emerson, and Mt Humphreys. We hurried back down to the trail. We returned to our camp, packed up and moved right along, because we didn't want to cross Bishop Pass in an electrical storm.

Swift Lisa stayed a step ahead of the rain, but I got wet on the return hike. Now driving the Prius, we continued through heavy rain all the way down to Bishop. Lightning strikes had ignited sagebrush fires throughout Inyo and Mono Counties. The same storm was probably the source of the giant Rim Fire, which, as I write these words, is burning into Yosemite.

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