BIRCH MOUNTAIN (13,602') May 2-4, 1992

With this informal California Mountaineering Club trip, a few of us carpooled from Northern California again. It was early, in May, for the High Sierra, but we are experienced mountaineers. I ski peaks in winter, and the rest all had some cold weather experience and gear.

We had good weather all weekend, and though it was a bit cooler, the climb would be warm on a regular summer weekend. We met at a remote trailhead along the Eastern Sierra, and with good vehicles, came to a good spot, by McMurry Meadows, to leave the cars. There is a followable trail to our base camp at Birch Lake, and I found it quite nicely as others aimed for an improbable cliff. They soon saw their error, and we all arrived at this nice alpine setting to enjoy our camping.

We were up early to climb our peaks. The others were intent on bagging Mt. Bolton-Brown. I changed my mind as we came to a steep couloir. One of the climbers had no crampons or ice ax, so followed me as I headed up a snow gully to the top of Birch Mountain. I got a nice picture of the others climbing up their snow couloir. Giving the gearless climber a rope belay, and chopping steps for him, the two of us made it to the top of Birch Mountain. I photographed the view, then spotted the rest of the group, without two, ascending the ridge from the top of that couloir. They figured that it was too hard to get to their intended goal, and switched course to go to my peak. Two of them went for Mt. Bolton-Brown, then, and came back to camp late after dark, claiming success.

I sure enjoyed the snowy sights in all directions, and must have shot a whole roll of film capturing this vista. I snapped a few photos of the summit register. Regrouping with the others, we slid down a steep and icy slope down to our ascent route, while one member made do with his lack of gear, somehow.

Back to camp, we had another nice evening, and I shuttered the sunset and dawn. It was an easy backpack down to our cars, and so concluded another successful and safe weekend, along the Eastern Sierra.