Telescope Peak

2 May 1998 - by Rich Calliger

We(Mike Rinaldi and I) climbed it on Saturday May 2; 11,100 class 2 snow.

For a change, all the elements (ahhh- there's a pun!!) came together at Telescope Peak in Death Valley. I was there twice before in the preceding 2 months and happened to run into some other PCS'ers trying to climb Telescope as well. With snow drifts over 3-4 feet blocking the road to Mahogany Flats and severe postholing even with snow shoes the idea of making the summit was quickly quashed. Instead we did several peaklets and Wild Rose Peak.

However, today- a large high pressure system sat over the entire area with temps in the 70's at sea level and in the 30's and 40's at altitude. (Snow was freezing again as we finished the day!).. With the exception of playing tag with some small local cloud groups bringing us a few minutes of peak-obscuring we had a perfectly clear calm day!! A most unusual occurrence considering that 5 out of the 6 trips I started since Feb ended in complete weather frustration. At the peak we did incur some wind, but not too bad- may 20-30 MPH.

Mike led most of the way kicking steps in the snow as we shot straight up the top of the eastern cornice over old snowshoe tracks and snow sometimes as deep as 6 feet, 8 in other areas and clear rock in some.

We achieved the summit after about 6 hrs and enjoyed spectacular views of the valley and peaks of the Sierra behind the Panamints as the clouds opened up occasionally.

We carried ice-axes, crampons and a short 7mm rope- none of which were really needed as the snow was just about as perfect as one could ask for except for me, being the heavier of the two, would posthole more often.

All in all it was a most enjoyable snow trip- I summitted Rogers and Bennet as well after a brief separation around the ridge from Mike. So it was probably a 16 mile day ands according to my Avocet about a 4500' gain. I traversed the eastern slope while Mike went to the west. My route was a little dicey as the angle steepened rapidly in some areas. By the early afternoon we did have to skirt some snowfields as the postholing was getting a little irritating..other than that we got a great workout and a very special treat in having summitted our first peak together as a team.

This was particularly satisfying since for various reasons we hadn't summited a peak together since we met (Aside from Diablo and Rose peaks and several other trips).

The drive from the Bay Area was about 450 miles and 7.5 hrs. We went back via 395 Noth and then Hiway 88 stopping off to check out the Tioga snow (lots and consolidated) and the green-bridge ice on 120. (didn't really see that too clearly- I could see it was still there but not as extensive of course as in January when I was last there).


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