Fletcher and Vogelsang

1 Sep 1995 - by Arun Mahajan

Leaders: Bob Suzuki and Debbie Bulger Party.

Members: (8 in all) Bob Suzuki, Debbie Bulger, Richard Stover, Mark Woolbright, Arun Mahajan, Larry Hester, Julie Carlyle, Dennis Hilpakka.

Everyone gathered at the permit station at the pre-ordained time (8:30 am on Sat). There were a few no-shows so the party size was reduced to 8 instead of the expected 12. It was clear and cool, perfect hiking weather. After about 7.5 miles on a clement grade and at a modest pace, we reached Vogelsang Lake at 2 pm. We camped there, and around 2:30 we set off to get Fletcher.

One person opted out of the hike and remained at camp. We climbed right up, close to the camp on the west facing side at a place where the face was more broken, with Bob Suzuki leading the way. After a fairly strenuous class 2 section that got us about a 3rd of the way up, we headed right and passing through some scrub and some steep rock made it to the summit.

Since there was no summit marker or register, there was some initial confusion about the true summit. Also, most of us had read Phyllis's report that there were some false summits. We could see some rock outcroppings to the left (north) of us, which we thought could be the ones she had written about.

Larry and Bob and Richard and Debbie, after studying the maps in more detail then concluded that we were indeed at the summit. We descended from the southside of Fletcher, heading towards the direction of Vogelsang Pass, which was an easier way down than the way up.

The next day we started hiking towards Vogelsang at 8 am. Two persons dropped out of this climb. The class 2 northeast slope was filled with snow, complicating our plans.

Bob Suzuki, intrepid as ever, soon ascended the snow. Debbie was the sweep. Slowly, by cutting steps with pointed rocks (what they didn't teach me at the ice-axe course!), we all gathered at the boulders where Bob was. Then began a section of the route that only a very elastic definition of class-2 would accommodate!

But with Bob and Debbie guiding and spotting us,and with help from Richard, we all managed to clamber up towards the ridge and from there up easy class 2 to the summit.

When we reached the summit, it was 11 am. We did the usual summit dawdle, took pictures and leafed through the registers. The view was spectacular, with Half-Dome, the Clark range and Parson's Peak in full view.

We started down after lunch. The snow pack was still hard, so the shortest route down was not an option for us, neither did we feel like going down the way we had come up. So we decided to descend to the south of Vogelsang Pass.

But going down was not easy either, especially one 6 ft section. But again Bob and Debbie got us through safely. Then it was a traverse in scree and loose rock towards the pass. Once over the pass, it was just a 30 min walk back to camp. We broke camp and started towards the cars at 2:45 pm. By 6 pm we all got back to the cars, and some of us stopped for dinner (excellent food) at Groveland's Charlotte hotel.

I guess it must have been midnight by the time people fromthe Bay area got back.This was an excellent hike, perfect weather and a good bunch of folks. Bob and Debbie showed excellent leadership skills in finding routes, in keeping theclimb within the class-2 bounds, and in maintaining good cheer.

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