Williamson & Tyndall - High and Dry

11-14 Jul 2002 - by Steve Landes

Hello All, This past Wednesday myself and Vishal J. left the bay area for a journey to Independence for the long hike over shepherds pass. On thursday morning we picked up our permit in Bishop and made a late (11:20am) start on a hot (105 degree) Owens valley day. The trek out of canyon to the pass has been described many times before so I will leave to say it was long, hot, dry and arduous.

We actually camped out below the pass under cloudy afternoon skies and were met by evening rain that came up from the east and lasted about 20 minutes, followed by clear skies again.

The next morning with Vishal moving fast and in far better shape than myself, we crossed shepherds pass and headed for the Williamson bowl lakes. En route, passing by the base of Mt. Tyndall, we dropped packs for lunch before the planned afternoon climb. I should mention that for me the mission of this trip was to knock off two more 14ers, and for Vishal, he wants to complete the SPS List of peaks. After lunch, under cloudy skies but no rain we climbed the North Rib route on Mt. Tyndal. The climb can be described as a combination of steep bouldering and moving between cracked rock. We summitted and enjoyed the view of Mt. Williamson and the surrouding peaks. Seeing as it was raining to the West and North we heading down, retrieved our packs and set out for the Williamson bowl.

That night we camped at the first lake in the Williamson bowl. After dinner we compared notes on Mt. Williamson with another group up from Santa Monica whom we had again ran into as at various times before on the trail up. They had come to climb Mt. Williamson as had we. At this time they had learned in better detail where the actual dark water marks on the west face route were located. That was an important talk because in studying the mtn for the route, I had been looking too far to the north on the western facing slope. The dark water marks as indicated in the various climbing books turns out to be much further south down the western facing slope. Of course we were at the first lake so in hindsight based on our position it all makes sense now.

We awoke to partly cloudy skies at 6am. We saw lightning and it rained on us by 6:30am, but you could see it was only a few dark clouds and much too early in the day to be worried about the weather, so we continued our preparations and set out for the second lake by 7am. With clearing skies we headed up and over the dark water marks of the west face and into the the appropriate chute. There was only one small patch of snow in the chute so there had been no need for an ice axe or crampons (we had learned this and left them at camp).

In the chute, you can clearly see the route as there was for the most part a trail from peoples' prior slip and slide steps leading to the ridge. It was some where in this chute with Vishal far ahead, that I believe he somehow came out of the chute and moved right/south down the face for his own little summit adventure. At the top of the chute the 'cleft' is clearly visible as being the only class three looking rock, so I scurried up this, reached the ridge/plateau and was on the summit by 11am enjoying the view. While resting on the top, from the southwest ridge up comes Vishal who had some how got off track but had safely made it to the top and from the ridge/plateau we were again visited by our friends from Santa Monica. The view was great, but again with increasingly cloudy skies to the west and north we headed down and back to camp. At the bottom, of the second lake, it rained and hailed on us but only for a short time before clearing.

The next day we hiked out hot and tired with a stop at Taco Bell in Bishop for an all-you-can-drink soda followed by a 'Hot Creek' soaking. That knocks off 8 of the 15. Next stop Mtn Russell.

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