Correction to Secor, Mt Conness
by John Wakabayashi
Mt. Conness East Ridge route. The east ridge is the easiest route up
Conness for peak baggers who want to climb this peak on a short day
hike. Most folks climbing from Saddlebag Lake try to contour around the
south side of the peak just northwest of the Saddlebag Lake dam or they
climb from lower down passing the Carnegie Institute Station.
Contouring around the peak SW of Saddlebag is somewhat tedious as is the
general rule for going sideways across talus slopes, especially those
composed of netamorphic rocks such as these. I think it is faster to
climb directly over the top of the peak just west of Saddlebag (peak
11239 on the 15') cross the flat saddle between this peak and the
Conness east ridge, then ascend a series of broad benches to the talus
slopes mantling the south side of the east ridge. These slopes are
followed to the final step on the ridge which is easily climbed to the
plateau south of the Conness summit massif. I did this route twice in
the early 70's. The east ridge route is listed as class 3, but this
route seemed to me to be class 2 all the way to the crest. The steepest
part is the upper part of the east ridge, but this is fairly comparable
or perhaps even less steep than the top of the east ridge of Mt. Brewer
which is rated as class 2 and, so far as I know, pretty much universally
thought of as such.
An additional comment on Conness is that the final approach to the
summit via the standard route is rated class 2 and it truly is, thanks
to the some folks that did a lot of engineering up there and built a
high ridge equivalent of the High Sierra trail to the top. Even though
this is class 2, there are still some places with a fair amount of
exposure. This should probably be noted in the guidebook so as to warn
walk up hikers who won't be expecting that level of exposure. In any
case, if one rates the final approach as class 2, the east ridge which
has neither difficulty nor exposure (unless one religiously stayed on
the top of the ridge) should certainly be class 2 as well.
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Safe climbers must be able to understand the terrain
and topography of the area they travel in, and they
must make wise route finding choices based their own
knowledge, experience and observations.