Looking due South from Green Lake it was apparent that the picnic was over: a seemingly endless boulder field climbed into the distance... Arun observed that it might be possible to scamper up a slightly steeper but much shorter gully to the South East and then follow the ridge around to the South. After a few glances at the vast boulder field to the South, despite uncertainty about the ease of following the ridge, Arun's comparatively short gully was an easy sell, and off we went. Other than a little lose scree in the middle, the chute posed no problems and we gained ~1000 feet rapidly. At this point we were happy to find that Arun's instincts had been good, and that while the ridge was steep on the West side, on the East it opened to a gentle plateau free of boulders, making for easy going... We could now see that the trail would have provided another option to bypass the boulder field as it too made up to the lower limits of the plateau, albeit very indirectly. From the plateau we followed Scott's compass bearing as the summit was not yet visible. After a gradual climb we reached a local maximum and saw the plateau slope downwards for a while, with a peak visible to the South East - Cloudripper? Brief debate ensued, ending with Scott saying "if that is Cloudripper then I'm very confused", and Arun and I pretty much convinced that despite it's very respectable appearance it was indeed but a false summit at 13374 that we needed to bypass. Scott and Arun set off climbing diagonally across what turned out to be table sized boulders while I opted to stay low and walk the plateau and then make a direct climb up the boulders - we both reached the ridge at about 13300 feet just below the false summit at about the same time. From this ridge, the true summit of Cloudripper was visible, while only 200 feet higher, a descent to another plateau was required first, making for a ~500 foot final climb, most of which was on snow. Scott and I opted to use our ice axes, while not strictly necessary given the moderate angle and softness of snow, they provided some extra security, while Arun climbed confidently without one. The final summit ridge was class 3, though only a few spots were significantly exposed provided you stayed on the left side of the summit ridge, and we had little trouble finding a good route to the summit, which we reached just after 2 PM; a 6 hour trip. From the summit we were rewarded with gorgeous views of 3 drainage basins and their associated lakes, as well as Mt Sill and the Palisades, and countless other peaks that as it was getting a little late in the day we didn't loiter to identify... The weather was perfect, and while this forced us to to imagine 'cloudripping' rather than witness it, no one was complaining!
For the return we opted for the most direct route, and yes this gave us the chance to experience the dreaded boulder field that we had skirted... While it started OK, it soon took on the character of a really long and bad movie, as time progressed it seemed to get no closer to ending, all the while one getting more and more sick and tired of it... Finally somehow it did end, at which point we rested and finished off most of our food - and Arun finally got to use an ice axe - to cut a piece of chocolate from a large slab I'd purchased at Trader Joe's... The rest of the return progressed rapidly and we made Green Lake by 5:45 and the cars by 7 PM, making for an 11 hour day.
Dan Cervelli adds:
I climbed Cloudripper from Green Lake on Saturday, July 8th and wanted to add a couple of comments to this report.
> where we met a solo hiker who had followed the more gradual > climb of the pipeline from South Lake to intersect the trail;
This is the route I took, it saves a few hundred feet of elevation gain. You can park at the upper parking lot just beyond the boat launch. Walk up a gated road from the backpacker parking lot and find the pipe on your right in about 100-200 yards. Walk directly up the pipe (right on top of it!) and you will intersect the trail to Green Lake.
> for easy going... We could now see that the trail would have > provided another option to bypass the boulder field as it too > made up to the lower limits of the plateau, albeit very indirectly.
Opting to gain as much elevation as possible on trail, I went this way. I wouldn't go as far as calling it "very indirect", in fact I even opted to descend this same way, choosing to avoid steep talus as much as possible.
> Cloudripper was visible, while only 200 feet higher, a descent to > another plateau was required first, making for a ~500 foot final > climb, most of which was on snow.
Ugh, I hate losing elevation. I was able to avoid snow almost entirely (perhaps 30-40 feet of deeply suncupped not to steep snow).
> the summit we were rewarded with gorgeous views of 3 drainage basins > and their associated lakes, as well as Mt Sill and the Palisades
The view really is most spectacular from that peak. I counted at least 26 different lakes!