To celebrate the solstice (21/22/23 June), 6 people of the PCS, Nancy Fitzsimmons, Bill Kirkpatrick, Dave Wright, Jim Ramaker, Phyllis Olrich (leader), and me (Arun Mahajan) attempted Williamson and Tyndall.
The group met at the Pines Cafe in the swank downtown of the bustling super-polis of Independence. The weather report boded well for the entire weekend. We began at 9 am at the Shepherd's Pass trailhead. The four stream crossings provided no entertainment since everybody crossed in fine style. The switchbacks were relentless till we reached the top of a ridge from where we get the first breathtaking view of Williamson. To quote Tennyson completely out of context,
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world he stands,
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls,
As he watches from his mountain walls.
These would be our words to describe Williamson too, if we could conjure that kind of poetic imagery! The trail dropped *down* now up to a point where the descending waters from a waterfall cross it, and we had lunch there. Then the trail winded up past the Mahogany flats (a flat area with some mahogany nearby...!). Soon after that, we were at Anvil Camp. There we ran into some people from another PCS trip that was led by Tony Cruz. Another bit of uphill on patchy snow and trail got us to the bottom of the final chute leading to the pass. There was ample snow and the chute looked like it did not get a lot of sun, but still it wasnt hard enough for crampons and we managed to get up to the top of the pass using axes. It was six pm then. It had taken 9 hrs to get there. One person from our party had elected to stay at Anvil. The five of us camped near the frozen lake along with three people from the other PCS party. It got into the 20's that night but it wasnt very windy.
The next day we had a semi-alpine, start at 6.30 am. Bill and Dave chose to do Tyndall, while Phyllis, Jim, and I were joined by Martina Faller and Keith Barnes from the other PCS party for our attempt on Williamson. To say that finding the route was a little confusing would be an understatement. But by constantly checking the topos, and being expertly guided by Phyllis and Jim, we made good progress and stayed on the ridge between two lakes before dropping down. The black stains mentioned in the guide books were visible, though we initially thought that they were caused by the water that was coming down from above. It seemed that we were constantly going up and down, but eventually we made it to the black stains at 8:30. It had taken us two hrs to get there. We headed up the stains. The route to the top is mostly visible. We switchbacked up the loose boulder and talus fields. We hit 2 patches of snow, on the first one we just kicked steps, but on the second one we needed crampons. That brought us to the base of the 60 ft class-3 section. We found the chockstone described in Secor and climbed past it up the chimney by stemming with our backs, and that brought us to the summit plateau. The whoops of joy all around indicated that there was a consensus that it was one helluva view. Further scrambling on huge boulders (to avoid the sloping snow fields) brought us to the actual summit. We had lunch, and took the usual goofy summit photos. It was warm, with no winds, clear skies, and great views. In the words of a famous cynic, "lets face it, too much beauty is boring". So after being bored to death by excessive beauty for an hour and half, we headed down, gingerly making our way thru the chute and the now-soft snow patches. Phyllis and Jim were considering Tyndall in the same day, but later gave up on the idea. We were back to the Shepherd's Pass camp at five -- it had been a 10 1/2 hr day. Phyllis and Jim wanted to do Tyndall the next day and stayed at Shepherd's Pass while Martina, Keith and I packed up and headed back to Anvil. It took us 1 hr and 10 mins to get back. Bill and Dave were back at Anvil after attempting Tyndall, and just as it got dark, Nancy returned from summiting on Tyndall with Dennis Hiipakka. All of them reported that Tyndall was not a kinder, gentler mountain than Williamson and that they too had a hard climb.
After a restful night at Anvil, we hiked out at 7:40 AM. on Sunday morning and were back at the cars just before noon (four hrs only!). Again, I am afraid to say, the stream crossings provided no entertainment as nobody choose to fall in.
Phyllis says that she and Jim also headed down the same morning from Shepherd's Pass without doing Tyndall and they got back to the cars at 1:30 PM. The prospect of doing Tyndall, hiking out, and then doing the long drive home was too daunting, and they figured they would have reached the Bay area at 4 AM.