Gabbing about Gabb

25-27 Aug 2006 - by Aaron Schuman

"With a 14-mile approach march, how can you call it a beginner trip?", Fi demanded of our trip leader Charles. Larry bypassed the issue by arriving a day early and taking two days to walk up Bear Creek to Lake Italy. Youthful Lee Kenyon and aptly named Anna Strong, both new to PCS trips, seemed unphased by the long hike with 3600 feet of elevation gain. Charles himself stopped short of the lake on Friday, and met up with the group the next day.

At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, just as the sky was lightening, yours truly, co-leader and scribe Aaron, woke up the team, and got us moving. We walked the north shore of 11200' Lake Italy. Most of the way to the east end of the lake, we angled back up a broad, northwest directed ramp on Mt Gabb, that ended in a sandy bowl. We proceeded up the bowl to where it topped out on the west ridge of the mountain. Although from the lake, the mountaintop appears to be a rounded hump, up close, it was quite blocky. Fi competently led the ridge traverse, and with difficulty she kept us on a challenging class 2 route. At last we reached the 13741' summit.

In a crystalline atmosphere, the view from the top was never ending. Almost any Sierra summit you can name is visible from Mt Gabb. It's easier to name the peaks we couldn't see: Mt Langley, Mt Conness.

Supposedly there was once a historic summit register there, but we found the cylinder empty. Lee donated a spiral notepad and a pen. We joked that we had now made the first recorded ascent!

We returned by a route very similar to our ascent route. We found our packs, and Charles, at about 6:00 p.m. After our dinner, we slept under a brilliant, moonless sky with a rich Milky Way and many Perseid shooting stars.

As we broke camp on Sunday, we came upon a ptarmigan. It's an Alaskan bird, far from home, but I guess it recognized frozen, barren Lake Italy as a little bit of Alaska in California.

We hurried down the trail, getting back to the trailhead in mid-afternoon. Charles drove us down the 3-mile stretch of cratered dirt and granite road from the Bear Creek Diversion Dam to the make-believe-paved one-lane Lake Edison Road. We stopped for a bit of barbecued bison at the Mono Hot Springs Resort, then drove home to the Bay Area.

The first time I attempted Mt Gabb, I sustained a head injury and a broken rib. This time, I had the satisfaction of climbing the peak that almost defeated me in 2004.

All photos by Lee Kenyon:

click to enlarge Gabb37_mtn_profile.jpg click to enlarge Gabb67_climbers.jpg click to enlarge Gabb83_summit.jpg

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