Bruising Brewer

4-6 Jul 2003 - by Stephane Mouradian

There were ten of us at the Road's End trailhead in Kings Canyon NP: Stephane Mouradian (leader), Kirsten Mouradian, Nancy Fitzimmons (co leader), Tom Driscoll, Linda Sun, Joerg Lohse, Tony Stegman, Vince Coite, Roger Dettloff and Dan Brotherson.

The Ranger literally gave us a 30min speech before we could get a permit, so we did not leave until 8am. After a few miles, Nancy decided to sign out from the trip to save her knees still recovering from the Middle Pal trip of the week before. Tom's compassionate knees told him to stop there too (or was it the approaching wedding?) A few miles later Dan's knees also convinced him to leave the trip. By the time we reached Bubb's creek at Junction Meadow, it was down to seven of us. The log that was previously used to cross the river had been dislodged by high waters and was now useless, anchored at an angle a few yards downstream. The creek was about knee to thigh deep with strong current. Armed with long sturdy sticks, we crossed taking small steps so not to lose our balance. The lighter of us were at a disadvantage but all the sleeping bags stayed dry. Laboring our way up the East Creek drainage, we arrived at East Lake at 5:30pm. Total for the first day was 11.3 miles, 4400', 9.5 hours. The East Lake creek outlet was crisscrossed with old unstable logs. In search of a campsite, some of us crossed the logs while others preferred wading the fairly deep water. After hunting for a camping spot for some time, we finally settled for the large and comfortable site near the bear locker on the North side of the lake. As we were preparing dinner, Bob Gross stopped by to tell us about his own climb that day. He had scouted the route up to 12,000' the day before and had gone for the summit the day we arrived at East Lake. Fresh from his adventure, he gave us a somewhat apocalyptic description of the climb, mentioning a very long day with brush, cliffs, deep snow etc. This unfortunately discouraged another three of our climbers. The next day, only four of us left camp at 5:30am for the summit.

To start from East Lake, we used the gully very well described by Mike McDermitt in his August 2001 report. We followed the marked stream North of Ouzel creek until the gully came to an end and we exited on slabs on the right side. From that point on, we headed toward Brewer's East ridge. We crossed a little forested area and went up some slabs on the lower East end of the main ridge. Our route differed from McDermitt's as we stayed close to the ridge all the way after the forested area. Up to 12,000' we stayed slightly on the North Side of the ridge top using some convenient slabs, grass and small rocks which made hiking easy. At 12,000' we crossed a 20 yard snow field to hop onto the ridge top proper. We did punch through to our knees once each and this convinced us to go around the snowfields from that point on. Slightly above 12,000' Kirsten decided to take a break and wait for us there. The three of us that were left followed the ridge top to the summit. There were snowfields which were easily avoided. It was fairly straightforward to get onto the south ridge. There were more possibilities that just the one notch described in the guide books. The three of us Linda Sun, Roger Dettloff and myself reached the 13,570' summit around 11:45am. This was a 6 hour climb as was reported by Bob and others and a bit easier than we expected based on Bob's descriptions. The weather was perfectly clear and allowed a comfortable 45 min lunch on the summit. We took our time on the way down and followed the same route as for our climb. We located the previously mentioned gully which took us back down to East lake without brush or cliffs. We walked into camp around 6:30pm after having treated Roger for his shin's close encounter with a slab of granite. This was a long but straightforward climb (3 miles, 4000'), made easier by some good tips from previous reports. For all the climbers who did not reach the summit on this trip, Mount Brewer will be there next time. Congratulations to Roger Dettloff on bagging his first real peak with the PCS.

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