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Mount Williamson 14,389 - 2 members in 2 triplogs have rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jul 20 2018
chumley
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 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,494
 Triplogs 1,442

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Mount Williamson 14,389Sierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Jul 20 2018
chumley
Backpack30.50 Miles 10,759 AEG
Backpack30.50 Miles3 Days         
10,759 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
desertchild
sbkelley
Scott put this one on the calendar a few months ago, and I try not to let opportunities to hike in the Sierra pass me by, so I said I'd be there for sure. The group ended up being a little larger than typical, but it turned out really well.

9L took the opportunity to join me on the drive and we all met up at camp Thursday evening for a beer and an ISS flyby before settling into bed for the night. Friday morning we headed to the Shepherd Pass trailhead and started out on our big 9 mile/4,800 foot hike to Anvil Camp. We all knew what we had ahead of us, and made it in better time than planned. The trail was in excellent condition and constructed as nicely as the other eastern Sierra access trails I've hiked. We arrived just as it started to rain and all managed to get tents set up and take shelter before the skies really opened up on us.

After some good showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon, things cleared up as it got dark. With the forecast not in our favor, and no change in the pattern over the next couple of days, we opted for an alpine start on our attempt to summit Williamson and Tyndall on Saturday. On the trail at 4am, we topped out at Shepherd Pass by 5:15, just as it got light enough to turn off our headlamps. From here it was the long trudge across Williamson Bowl toward the ascent route.

The group of 6 was moving at different speeds, so Joe and I split from the others, leaving us as two separate groups. At the southeast corner of the bowl, the route climbs steeply up the slope toward a chute. From there, the chute gains 1,000 feet in half a mile, topping out at the 14,000 foot contour. At the top of the chute, the crux of this summit is a class-3 climb referred to as "the chimney". I had been a bit apprehensive about this part, but when Joe and I arrived, a couple who had summitted at 7am were just finishing the descent and made it look easy. Turns out it was easy! The climb is nicely protected with no exposure, tons of hand and footholds, and easy shimmying up the chimney. At the top, you pop out onto the ridge about 300 feet below the summit and the views are amazing!

From here it's a piece of cake to reach the peak. It was now 9:30, and the clouds had begun to build aggressively. None looked particularly daunting quite yet, but our experience from yesterday led us to assume it was just a matter of time before these clouds would produce both rain and lightning. So our time on the summit was short. Nonetheless, the clouds made for some amazing views in all directions. For a short time, I was able to get a view of Whitney, just 5 miles away, and just 116 feet higher. I'm not sure I could ever see a better view of Whitney than this one! The absolute highlight of the trip! :)

The other half of our group was just topping out of the climb as we were headed down. Despite the building clouds, Joe and I still had hopes of hitting Tyndall on the way back. It would be a detour of 1,700 feet over a mile climb, right on the route we were hiking back to Shepherd Pass. But after an hour getting across the bowl, it was 1pm and the clouds over Williamson looked mean. Figuring it would take nearly two hours to get to the summit of Tyndall and the exposed nature of the route, we decided it wasn't worth the risk.

We headed back to camp, rain setting in about a mile before we got there confirming we made the right decision. Even without Tyndall, it was 12 miles and more than 5,000 feet gained over 10 hours ... a pretty good day! I enjoyed a well-earned afternoon nap as it rained and the thunder rumbled above.

Sunday morning, we slept in and hit the trail around 7:30 for the hike back down. While we were all prepared for the 600 foot climb in the middle of the descent, it still lasted longer and seemed steeper than we remembered. At Symmes Saddle we took a break, and 9L arrived just in time on a day hike to meet us and hike back down with the group.

We grabbed lunch in Lone Pine before the drive back to Phoenix. Big thanks to Scott for planning this one. It was a blast! Too bad the weather didn't cooperate enough to make Tyndall a realistic option. It was good to hike with Sam again, to hike with Taylor, and to meet Joe and Shawn. Thanks to 9L for joining on the drive. All in all, a fantastic trip!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Lake Helen of Troy 76-100% full 76-100% full
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Jul 20 2018
sbkelley
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 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Mount Williamson 14,389Sierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Jul 20 2018
sbkelley
Backpack30.50 Miles 10,759 AEG
Backpack30.50 Miles
10,759 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners partners
chumley
desertchild
Mount Williamson had been on my radar for some time. Driving down Highway 395, it's impossible to miss. Sure, Whitney is taller, but this one always just looked more fun - and stately! I also knew that there was a popular sense of dread around this one, largely because of its approach on the Shepherds Pass Trail. It's rare to find a 14er to climb that asks you to cover 10,000'+ of gain by its standard route - and that includes some scrambling (albeit brief). Suffice it to say, the allure became stronger the more I read about it.

I also realized how much more fun one of these efforts is when you get the right crew together. And we really did have a great group for this one. In the end, I convinced (suckered) Chumley, Taylor, Sam, and also my friend and trusty big mountain partner Shawn from Colorado to join. He invited his fellow Denver(-ite?) Joe, who'd climbed Orizaba with us this past January. I never thought 5 others would be down for this 3 day adventure, but there we were, permits in hand and packs up on Friday morning ready to go.

The first mile of the trail stays in the canyon, and is a bit overgrown. It got me worried about the switchbacks above I knew were to come, and the condition of the trail there. Those worries evaporated, though, the moment we left the 4th creek crossing and started up the hill. The Shepherds Pass Trail is in great shape, and it felt like we were cruising up to the Symmes Creak saddle. Everyone felt great after that first 2700' push, and there was even excited chatter there among the group about maybe pushing above our planned Anvil Camp. The drop to water near Mahogany Flat and the abrupt restart quelled that chatter, and we were all happy and ready to see camp, especially since minutes after everything was set up, the sky opened up. A gentle but annoying rain full most of the afternoon. Anvil really is about the only shady, tree-covered spot on the route, so it makes sense to take advantage of it.

Up for an alpine start and on the trail at 4 a.m. under nice conditions, we strung out a bit as everyone settled into their pace. The nice trail helped progress up to Shepherds Pass, where we enjoyed sunrise. Regrouping after some scree-slogging, we enjoyed some relative flat as we all eyed the route up Tyndall en route to the Williamson Bowl. I'm always struck by the contrast of the slope on the Sierra Crest: rugged and sharp to the east, gentler to the west, at least from what I've seen so far. Williamson Bowl was great from a scenery standpoint, but you have to carefully pick your way through the boulders. Again, I'd heard a lot of belly-aching about this stretch prior to the trip, but honestly, it's not bad. The boulders are mostly solid, and it's generally clear where to go. At the base of the gully, Chums and Joe couldn't contain their excitement and busted up, while the other four of us settled into a nice pace and steadily made our way up. We nervously watched the clouds start to build near 8 am (what is this - Colorado???), but knew we'd be able to get up and down before the light show started.

Sam and Shawn pulled ahead of Tay and I a bit as we neared the much-talked-about chimney. We watched them - well, Shawn - start up the wrong way, but eventually get into the crack system and make his way up. Tay and I followed behind, and we popped out to an amazing view of the summit plateau and the Owens Valley, greeted by the already-summited Chumley, who had eschewed his summit beer for a photo op and was hauling it back to camp. We passed Joe coming down as we headed up, and had sweet summit success with cloud views. Last of the top 10 US 14ers done for Shawn and I! The weather made it so we couldn't stay long, and down the chute we went. Shawn and Sam moved ahead again, but waited for Tay and I at a prime lakeside lunch/nap spot. The rains chased away our laziness and made us leave Williamson Bowl with some urgency as we watched Mt. Williamson get enveloped in dark clouds. Good timing on our part. The trip back to our temporary Anvil home was smooth and everyone was all smiles around camp. Jack and Captain were passed around and it was great to see everyone laughing and smiling after the big day. Sure, there were some expletives hurled my way throughout the day, but what's a good trip without that?

The way home on the final day was fast, and the weekend was over before we knew it. The climb back up the Symmes Saddle wasn't too bad, but good thing we started early as hiding from the sun isn't easy there. We even had a well-timed 9L cameo at the saddle! It was great to see him and hike the last few miles back together. Joe went back up to get Tyndall that morning, so didn't join our hike out or parking lot celebration. The AZ group took off to start their long drive home after a good amount of hanging out, and Joe was only about 45 minutes behind from when they left. For the three of us, it was back to Reno, cold beers, and thoughts of what to do next, although we had to dodge some pretty impressive thunderstorms on the way home. Thanks to all of you guys for making it happen - great trip!
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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