On the hot, dry weekend of June 17, 2012, Ron Karpel, Aaron Schuman, Chris Prendergast, Greg Johnson and Debbie Benham set out from Onion Valley on a marginally maintained trail to the unnamed lake north of Golden Trout Lake. A gorgeous setting, crystalline and surrounded by talus walls, we had it all to ourselves.
Sunday morning, we headed up mountain in the solstice daylight at 5:30 a.m. Debbie stayed behind at the lake to practice yoga and to speak with the birds in their own language. At the top of the cirque there is a col capped by a chockstone. Some climbers bypass that stone to the right, but we crawled underneath it and handed up our daypacks one to the other. Now on the west side of the south ridge, we bypassed the prominent gendarme, overtopped a false summit, and came to the infamous exposed ledge.
The ledge provides a short traverse across a bare face to the summit area. Not every party protects this move with a rope. But our group chose to protect, because although the traverse is easy, the consequences of a slip would be serious. Ron's twenty-meter rope was plenty long. He built an anchor with one small cam, one chock, and a long sling. The toeholds in the ledge are solid. Although there are not many handholds, the wall is less than vertical, and we could lean right on it with both hands. Not every member of our party clipped on to the rope.
At 9:30 a.m. we were together on the 12955-foot summit of Dragon Peak, gazing out through the unusually transparent air to Sierra peaks near and distant.
Photo, taken by Greg Johnson, is of Chris Prendergast confidently completing the traverse.
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