Mt. Tyndall

29-30 Jul 2004 - by Nate Kimbler

The four of us started from the Shepherd's pass trialhead at 7:20 pm on Thursday night. None of us had previously hiked this trail, but we did our homework and knew more or less what to expect. We are all in our later 20's in fairly good shape. The trail crosses the Symmes creek 4 times during the first mile and doesn't see water again for another 5 miles or so as it ascends the canyon walls. We intended to hike in a little bit until the 4th stream crossing, where we would then find a flat spot nearby to camp, since it was late and the sun was going down. However, we could not find a flat spot anywhere. We continued up the endless switchbacks (we counted 55 to be exact). We ended up hiking to the light of the moon until we reached Mahogany flat about 5 miles later around midnight.

Just before Mahogany flat was a stream crossing where we filled up on water. There are lots of camping sites in Mahogany flats and the rushing sound of water is loud from a nearby waterfall.

The next morning we began hiking around 8:00 am and quickly came to Anvil Camp. The trees were nice, but the mosquites made it rather terrible. We stayed just long enough to fill up our water bottles. The weather remained clear and sunny for the duration of our trip. Fortunately we remembered to bring lots of sunscreen. I managed to still get sunburned despite faithful usage of sunscreen.

Rather soon after leaving Anvil Camp, we arrived at the Pothole. This was a more pleasant area than Anvil Camp due to the lack of mosquitos, but there was a lack of shade. We filled up water bottles once again here at the stream crossing in the grassy area. As we left the Pothole, there was one more stream crossing with quite a bit of water flowing down it. At this point, Shepherd's pass became quite evident in front of us.

The switchbacks up Shepherd's pass really weren't all that bad. I had heard terrible stories about these switchbacks which ended up not being true. All of us reached the top of Shepherd's pass at noon, 4 hours after leaving Mahogany flat. At this point, the view becomes quite incredible. To the east you can see where you came up down into the Owens Valley. To the south, Mt. Tyndall stares at you and appears very close. To the west is a large meadow-like flat basin. To the far west is an array of mountains forming a long ridge along the Kern river basin. We setup a camp a few hundred feet south of the stream crossing just over the pass.

At about 2:00 in the afternoon, we began an attempt of Mt. Tyndall via the northwest ridge. It is 100% boulder hopping going up this ridge and rather slow moving. At around 13,000 ft I turned around with one of the guys due to intense nausea feelings I was having and we returned to camp. The other two guys continued to the summit. The two guys that summitted noted that there is a very precarious class 3 section on the summit ridge they had to manuver through. We had heard that it was easy class 2 all the way to the summit. Apparently that is not true. After summitting at 5:00 pm (3 hrs later), they descended via the north rib route to avoid that precarious section again. They both determined that it would have been much easier and faster to ascend the north rib route than the northwest ridge.

That got me motivated again, so at 5:30 am the next morning, I ascended the north rib route. I found that it was much easier than the northwest ridge route I had attempted the day before (plus I wasn't feeling nausea). This route I would say is mostly class 2, but you can easily get into easy class 3 areas, but nothing to worry about. I gained the summit ridge at about 7:15 am and was at the summit by 7:30 am. The views from the summit were fantastic. The view of Mt. Williamson directly to the east is magnificent. I began descending at 8:00 am via the north rib route and was at our camp a little after 9:00 am.

This is where the long dreaded part of most hikes begin - going down. A long 6 hrs later with aching feet full of blisters we reached the car at the trailhead. Never has 11 miles of downhill been so hard on my feet.

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