LONE MOUNTAIN ON FOURTH OF JULY
To the following members, please note that your membership will expire this month:
Please make your
check payable to the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club and mail to: P.O. Box
36026, Las Vegas, NV 89133-6026.
Sergio, Nick and I just returned from a trip to Mt. Shasta. On June 19, we arrived in the town of Mt. Shasta, visited the ranger station, and bought a few last-minute supplies. Then we headed up the trail to Horse Camp (elevation around 8000 feet).
On June 20, we started up towards our high camp at Helen Lake (10,400 feet). I brought along too much stuff (pack weighed over 60 lbs), and was the last to arrive at Helen Lake. By late afternoon, there were at least 30 to 40 other hikers there, making preparations for an early start the next day.
By 4:30 a.m. on June 21, most of the climbers were heading up Avalanche Gulch by headlamp. Conditions were pretty good, but the wind was picking up, and once in a while, you had hold onto the axe and crouch down for a few seconds to avoid being knocked off balance. The snow was firm, and you could slide a long way on the 30 to 40 degree slopes. Also, on several occasions, rocks came tumbling down the gulch at high speed. One of them missed me by about 15 feet.
After reaching the Red Banks at 12,800 feet, there was finally a flat spot to take a break, eat a Cliff bar, apply sunscreen, etc. Sergio and I took different routes through the Red Banks, but met up again at 13,000 feet, near the base of Misery Hill.
Nick reached the summit (14,162 feet) first, and we met him as he was heading back down. He warned us about the high winds near the peak (gusts around 50 mph).
We continued to the top of Misery Hill and then across the summit plateau. There were great views of Shastina, Lassen, and the glaciers on the north side of Shasta. We continued up the final switchbacks, occasionally getting blasted by the wind, and reached the summit at around 9:00 a.m.
On the way down, we couldn't glissade too much, because it was early in the day and the snow hadn't softened up yet. We caught up to an inexperienced climber who was about to glissade down a steep icy chute, with her crampons on. Sergio reached her just in time to warn her about the danger, so she changed her mind and didn't glissade after all.
By the time we returned to Helen Lake, it was very warm. We took down the tents, packed up, and hiked all the way out to the trailhead.
Thanks to Sergio and Nick for a great trip. We were lucky
with the weather. Although the winds made things difficult at times, there
was no snow or rain, and temperatures were mild.
LONE MOUNTAIN ON FOURTH OF JULY
When I first picked up the sign-up sheet for this hike, I was surprised that only about eight people were signed up. As the time grew closer though, I began to receive calls and e-mails of more people wanting to join. Soon the size of group had grown... the final tally was 34, including six children or babies!
We decided to host a pre-hike BBQ at our house, so we filled up on burgers and Zimas before setting out down the street like a herd of stampeding turtles toward the base of Lone Mountain. The climb was short, but strenuous. We arrived at the top around 8:45, just as it was getting dark.
Panorama of the strip
We shared the summit with another large group of Trailblazers, so we spread out so as not be too crowded. The various firework shows that were visible began around 9:15 or 9:30. We finally left the peak a little before 10:00 by the light of headlamps and flashlights. Many of us had either work or school the next morning, so we hurried back before we turned into pumpkins.
The open secret to escape the Las Vegas summer heat is going to the Mt. Charleston mountain range. Joel Brewster led a small group of five (Joel, Oleh, Walter, Mike Ryan, and I) up Mt. Charleston via the ski area route. This is one of the shortest routes up Mt. Charleston, but it requires going through sections of avalanche debris and boulder fields.
Group photo from along the North Loop trail with Mt. Charleston in the background
As we entered the ski area, we were greeted by a small group of wild horses grazing on the grass. The route is quite obvious as we hiked up the largest visible gully from the ski area. Shortly past the ski slopes, we scrambled up the avalanche debris, quite suprised to see so much snow from the winter of 2005. We even found a large snow cave that was four feet high and about thirty feet deep (see photo at top)!
A short boulder field followed until we reached the South
Loop trail. As we reached about 11,000 ft., we ran into hundreds of butterflies.
We met Brett Dawson and David Bagaason on the summit, who had come up
from Big Falls. After a leisurely descent, we arrived back at our cars
eight hurs after we had set out.
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