Alta Peak

24-25 Dec 2004 - by Rob Yang (view roster page)

Went to pick up a wilderness permit at the Foothill visitor center in Sequoia National Park, where a ranger persuaded me to rent a bear canister (had left mine at home, thinking the bears would be hibernating) - the habituated bears in that area apparently have been known to dig up carcasses buried under snow. I rationalized that the Bearikade's extra 2 pounds would help my endurance training ...

Started from Wolverton (7400') around 11am, clear and cold. A ranger in the parking lot had told me to expect snow under the trees, with melted out sections on south-facing slopes and generally mixed conditions. At lower elevations there were long stretches of dirt, patches of hard ice, and packed snow. Didn't even bother putting my snowshoes on until 8000'.

Near Panther Gap (~8600') there was a south-facing stretch of trail where not much snow remained at all. Out in the sun it was like early summer.

Passing Mehrten Meadows (9200') I put my snowshoes back on, since the trail was back under the trees. The only tracks I saw here were boots - no skis or snowshoes. I made camp around 9400' just up the Alta Peak trail around 3pm, on only a few inches of hard consolidated snow. The night was not particularly cold, perhaps into the high 20's.

Started out for the peak at 8am, snowshoeing up the Tharp's Rock gully to about 10600', where I ditched them near a rock and proceeded up to the summit plateau with crampons and ice axe. Postholed up to my waist in a few spots, but it was a short walk. I'd read some beta somewhere about icy conditions on the summit block (11204'), but found mainly just hard snow, and frontpointed a little just for fun (I really need to get back to Lee Vining...)

The summit register notebooks were wrapped in ziplocks, but apparently water had still gotten in and frozen the pages together, which was too bad. Views were fantastic, weather was perfect - sunny, cloudless, not even breezy.

Descending, I thought about a glissade, but it was only about 10am and the snowpack seemed like it might be a bit too hard, and was a little thin - lots of rocks, so just walked down.

The images are from my site http://rhysw.com/alta_peak200412/ .

click to enlarge Alta_from_summit1.jpg click to enlarge Alta_from_summit2.jpg click to enlarge Alta_from_summit3.jpg click to enlarge Alta_from_summit4.jpg click to enlarge Alta_from_summit5.jpg click to enlarge Alta_from_trail1.jpg click to enlarge Alta_from_trail2.jpg click to enlarge Alta_summit_plateau.jpg click to enlarge Alta_tharps_rock.jpg


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