Route: Southeast Ridge Trailhead: Blue Lakes Reservoir
I climbed Mount Fletcher (13951 ft) with Lee Hendrick, Judith and Terry Perrine, Tom Perry and Marilyn (sorry Marilyn -- forgot your last name!) on Saturday, 14 August 1999 via the Southeast Ridge. The approach up to the basin beneath the Fletcher / Quandary saddle and our descent route correspond to the route described in Garrat and Martin's book.
We started out at about 7:30 AM with cloudy skies and fierce wind from the west. We followed the trail west and then northwest to a broken down old cabin at the start of the scenic basin beneath the Fletcher / Quandary saddle. This is also the approach for the Quandary West Ridge Route. At this point Garrat and Martin's book suggests heading straight west and gaining the high, flat ridge which leads to the base of the Fletcher summit block. Instead we decided to continue up the basin. We veered to the right and gained a small talus moraine-like ridge and followed it to the upper basin below a short headwall. A small cliff band divides the headwall into two large snow fields. The rest of the group wandered up the cliff band which has a very nice path through it. I went for the snow field on the right. The snow was very hard and required about three good kicks to make a step. About two thirds of the way up -- after my toes got too sore -- I traversed over and joined the rest of the group on the large flat area a few hundred yards short of the Fletcher summit block. From here it was short, steep hike up the talus to the summit. The best line turned out to be on the very crest of the ridge (watch out for the cliff bands on the right!). The summit register was an empty Gatorade bottle with a scrap of paper placed in it the day before! We added six names.
We decided to take an alternate descent route which followed Garrat and Martin's suggested ascent route. After coming off the summit block to the large flat area, we veered right (southwest) onto the gentle grassy ridge staying as close to the east side as possible. At the end of the ridge (approx. 1/2 mile), we wound our way down to the east through the cliff bands on grassy benches back to the old cabin. The descent requires a bit of route finding and a bit of downclimbing, but it is a very enjoyable route. It would also make an excellent ascent route.
This was Marilyn's first mountain ever! It took her a while to gain her confidence on the way up, but she did great. On the way down she looked like a pro.
The day started out cold and windy but turned out great. Per usual for a thirteener, we saw no one else after leaving the Quandary West Ridge trail.
If you do the snow, I highly recommend an ice axe. Crampons would be very useful also to avoid sore toes, but since the snow field is so short it's probably not worth carrying them.
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