Bradley, Center, and Keith

17 May 2001 - by Ron Hudson (view roster page)

Five of us met at Onion Valley (9300') for this joint Ski Mountaineers/Sierra Peaks section 4-day trip. We proceeded to University Col (12,600'), two with snowshoes and three with skis, although the snow stayed pretty firm in the morning. The forecast the day before was "slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms at the crest" but seeing clouds forming at 8AM was not a good sign. For much of the day it was raining or snowing, even blizzardy at times. It was rough going over the col in the snow and cold. I was more prepared for summer weather, and we all were somewhat chilled and miserable. Jeff Koepke's heavy pack made for slow going. Some wind when we got to the south side of the crest made things even colder. But as we descended to Center Basin it got better and we didn't even have to set up tents while it was snowing. We chose the mostly rock route on the muchly bare south facing slope. However, there was hardly any exposed ground where we camped (on snow) at the 11,000' level below the col.

The next morning we went up Bradley via the central gully from the Basin. The snow was steep (35-40 degrees) in places. Very near the top there was exposed snow below a wall that we protected with a fixed line traverse. Prussiks or carabiners were used as points of attachment for each of us as we traversed, except for Reiner Stenzel who led it. The top was enjoyable; there was cloud and storm activity around but not on this peak. We then descended and went back to camp.

We left at 5AM Sunday for Center Peak. On both snow and rock we summited about 10AM. The summit block has a face with holds or a mantle move for mounting it; both about 5.7. Most chose to prussik up or be belayed by the ropes set up by the leaders Reiner S. and Ron Hudson.

Reiner and Ruth von Rotz then left for Mt Keith, two miles away across the Basin. They downhill skied much as they traversed the Basin. Then up snow gullies and the NE ridge of the peak to the summit. They got back to camp at 7:30 PM after a long day. Having the skis allowed a fast return in great skiing conditions. Ruth and Reiner were in their element being avid skiers. The other three of us had enjoyed a nice afternoon in the warm sun.

The next day we packed up and began the 1600' climb to the col. This time most preferred the snow gully which went up almost all the ascent. Scott and I took the rock route for safety; Scott was coughing and suffering with his 75 pound pack. We then assisted with his load for safety and to speed things up. Patty Rambert was enjoying carefully all the snow we climbed; thousands of feet of kickstep or cramponable type steep snow.

The col north side was steep but safe as the snow softened. Again Patty and I used snowshoes under the fierce afternoon sun; the skiers skied. Back to the cars at 6:30 PM I was glad we got the peaks each had intended or "needed". It was an adventure in the snow, and the storm the first day; and also challenging for the leaders in doing routes to get over snow and rock minimizing then exposure and danger.


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