Gendarme and Peak 13,218'

24-25 Sep 2004 - by Reiner Stenzel

This is a short trip report for two peaks, which have not been described in the trip archives of climber.org. Both peaks are in The Inconsolable Range north of the Palisade Range, east of the Bishop Pass trail. Gendarme Pk (13,267') is climbed infrequently and the unnamed Peak 13,218' just south of Picture Puzzle Pk (13,276') may have been unclimbed altogether since the peak is not even marked on the map and there was no human record on its summit.

On a beautiful day in Fall, I climbed these peaks from the Bishop Pass trail via Jigsaw Pass (12,756'), having spent a night at Lake 11,920' 0.2mi SE of Bishop Pass. Jigsaw Pass is reached via the third chute north of Agassiz, which starts where a white diagonal rock band ends on a talus fan as clearly seen on a Picture of Jigsaw Pass. It is a typical cl 2-3 chute with lots of loose rock but better than other chutes which end up in class 4 terrain. There is a wooden post at the top of the pass and a pass register. The east side is much gentler and leads down to the Fifth of the Big Pine Lakes. From Jigsaw Pass one can also ascend nearby Aperture Peak (13,265') which we did a year ago. Gendarme Pk and Two Eagle Pk (12,966') are just northeast of Jigsaw Pass.

Starting from Jigsaw Pass I headed north, passed just east of Peak 12,856 to climb the ridge leading east to Gendarme Pk. This ridge is class 2 but near the summit it turns into easy class 3. Since there was new snow on the rocks I stayed slightly north and below the ridge. From the summit one can see at least four impressive rock columns to the east, the gendarmes. A traverse along the East Ridge over the gendarmes to Two Eagle Peak would be at least a class 4 climb. The summit register was in a small glass jar with a small notebook dating back to Aug 1967 with the original signatures of the first ascent by Smatko et al. The newer spiral notebook from 1978 averages less than one entry per year. From the summit one has a fine view of the Palisade Range, the Inconsolable Range and the lakes of the North Fork of Big Pine Creek. Looking west one has a clear view on Picture Puzzle Pk (13,276') which Barbara Berne and I climbed earlier via the north ridge and east couloir.

About 0.1mi south of Picture Puzzle is another prominent peak, which is not marked on the 7.5' Mt Thompson topomap. It is an isolated peak, not a subpeak of Picture Puzzle. Seen from the west (Bishop Pass Trail) Peak13,218' appears to be the most prominent and impressive peak on the crest of the Inconsolable Range. I climbed it from the east, which involves a steep climb on loose talus blocks. It is straightforward class 3 but the challenge is to find stable rocks on this disintegrating mountain. There was no summit cairn or register on this unmarked peak. I left a signed notebook in a plastic box under a newly constructed cairn on the peak. My GPS with WAAS averaging read UTM 11 363446E, 4109760N (NAD 27) and an elevation of 13,218'. The summit views were outstanding: To the west is a near-vertical drop-off toward the green Bishop Lakes. To the north is the rugged cl4 south face of Picture Puzzle Pk. To the east is Gendarme Pk and in the south looms the high Palisade Range. I descended carefully and continued the ridge south toward Jigsaw Pass. On the way, I passed over Peak 12,856' (11 363717E, 4109374N) wondering why this peaklet is marked on the North Pal topomap. After descending carefully down from Jigsaw Pass I hiked out to the car and drove home.


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