MAMMOTH CREST (11,280+'), COX COL, MT. MORGAN (13,748'), MT. LEWIS (12,296') August 1-6, 1996

Having a lead to do for the California Mountaineering Club, I left home early and visited the car show in Reno, NV. Motoring south on U.S. 395, I hiked Mammoth Crest as a warm-up peak.

Meeting a group at the Mosquito Flat trailhead for Bear Creek Spire, I had my rope and sought to bag the classic peak by the easy route, class 3-4. I did need the top, having been refused a belay on the summit rock, thusly prevented from touching the absolute high point safely. The group followed me, but it was a cold windy day. I had urged another peak to do, but I was outvoted. I led us on the use trail to a lake, and then it was to snow. I sought to not use crampons and knew a good route directly to Cox Col, but then again I was demanded to use a snow route.

We encountered steep snow, and I broke out my rope. I had not required crampons so some of the group didn't have them. There would have been an easier route the way I had led first, but some wished practice. Losing some time giving people belays, with one inexperienced participant not knowing how to throw down a rope, we finally made it to the col. There now wasn't enough time for the rope work on the summit, so I halted the group, with one opting to sign out, go ahead, and to try to solo the top. One climber was altitude sick, heaving gatorade, and this wasn't a good group of climbers.

Waiting for the solo climber, who then declined to do the class 3-4 rock, he came back to the col, and we started back to the hike start. The group was tired, and many could not glissade down the snow. It was good that I turned back. We made it back before dark, and this was enough for most. I had a dinner at Tom's Place, then one climber stayed on to do the second peak for the weekend, Mt. Morgan.

So Sunday, we started at the Rock Creek Lake trailhead to take the trail to Francis Lake. From there, a good use trail leads to the top. I led the single climber to the summit, with easy class 2 at most on the way. We had the usual good views, and then hiked back to the car.

I had the time, so Monday, hiked to Duck Lake. Tuesday, I drove to Yosemite and Mono Meadows trailhead to hike Mt. Lewis. I had a good time soloing this peak, a new one for me, enjoying the views at the top. Three peaks and six days out meant for the end of this jaunt to the Eastern Sierra. In 2000, I was fortunate to tag along on a SPS trip to bag Bear Creek Spire, finally, and claim the highest point, as achieved, with a short rope belay.