Nevahbe Ridge on Mt Morgan (N) 13,005 ft.

23 Jun 2001 - by Arun Mahajan

Moynier and Fiddler describe this airy ridge (100 Best Climbs in the High Sierra) and say that you start by crossing McGee Creek just before the pack station and get onto the ridge via a steep cuoloir. Well, I parked at the McGee Creek trailhead and by 7.15am, Saturday, 23rd June was walking back towards the pack station, looking for a place to get onto the ridge. I had seen no cuoloir and so had left the axe and crampons in the car. Through a soggy meadow and trees, wading the creek and on the steep, low-brush covered slope towards the ridge and soon I was at the top of the first bump, looking at a small dip and then a sharp ridge (ridge-A) consisting of many towers and gendarmes and this ridge itself seemed to hit an east-west ridge, which, I now assume, is the actual Nevahbe Ridge. There were class-2 options on both sides of ridge-A but I choose to climb it head on and was soon rewarded by some beautiful class-3 and maybe mild class-4 climbing on friable rock. "But, that is the beauty of this climb", Kai Weidman, had told me when I had asked him for beta. After this, I was on the ridge and followed it as it snaked southwest and then southwards. There are numerous ups and downs and I was tempted to skirt them to avoid them but followed Kai's advice to stick to the ridge and to not be discouraged by the many towers. The ridge looks deceptively short from the road but it is long and winding and it took me about seven hours to reach the dark top (point 12553 on the Morrison 15 min) and much to my chagrin, the long summit ridge of Morgan seemed even further away, seperated from this point by a saddle. I was very tempted to bail out as the sandy slopes on my right looked very tempting but I plodded on, down to the saddle and then up again on the white blocky ridge.

From my assessment and reading of the topo, the summit appears to be a bump on a long curving ridge. I came upto a high point and then another high point on the south. Looking back, the north point seemed slightly higher. I saw no register but I also did not look long and hard. My GPS-altimeter registered 13015 and Morgan is 13005, so I decided that this was it and also, all this blocky stuff was getting tiring so I headed back. It was 3 pm. Some easy walking down the sandy plain and then a dropoff on the left on red coloured rock dropped me into Esha Canyon. This is a most enjoyable hike down and the canyon is spectacular. It has a high tarn that drains into another below via a series of small waterfalls. The wildflowers were in bloom. A sketchy trail sometimes showed up on the sandy sections but for the most part it was hard on the knees to decend this but the cool breeze and the beautiful canyon walls took my tiredness away. 2 coyotes came running up the canyon, saw me and veered away. I was in thrall! Kai had said that it had took him and his team a whole day. Yes, count on it. I was back to my car at 7 pm, a twelve hour day.

It maybe that the real start of the ridge from the toe is harder. I still got a lot of class-3 and some class-4 on my variation of the start.

This is a very enjoyable climb but remember to not trust any handhold and make sure that before pulling yourself up, you are secure. Many thanks to PCS climber, Kai Weidman, for the information and advice provided to me.

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