Mt. Perkins, Mt. Wynne, Mt. Pinchot, and Colosseum Mtn
(A three day loop)

25-27 May 2007 - by Nile Sorenson

4 peaks in 3 days on a loop route. Go early in the year, you need some snow but not too much.

First - a quick summary of the trip with more details to follow. Begin in Armstrong Canyon. The first day, hike into the bowl east of Mt. Perkins and climb the north side of that bowl up to the sierra crest. From the crest, climb Mt. Perkins. Descend the class 2 west side down to the lakes to camp. On day two climb Wynne, traverse to Pinchot and break camp. Move down the canyon and into the bowl just west of Colosseum and north of Mt. Cedric Wright to a new camp. Day three, climb Colosseum and traverse the north ridge of Colosseum to Armstrong col. Descend the col back into Armstrong canyon to the car.

Day One. Begin early and pack light. Except for the food you eat, you will be carrying all this gear TWICE over the Sierra crest. The first day is a long day. Armstrong Canyon is dry and you have no water except snow. Follow a use trail that comes off the dirt road. It goes up on the south side of the canyon. Once you are into the upper part of the canyon, it might be wise to put some snow in a black trash bag and lay it out flat and anchor it down with some rocks. That way when you come back 2 days later it will be your water. Just remember where you put it so you don't leave it. Near the upper area of the canyon (about 3000M), move to the north side of the valley. Climb the class 2 slopes north-north east of Mt. Perkins. Keep toward the trees where the terrain is easier. Once you get above the trees, the footing is solid. As you reach 3600m, start angling westward, staying on the ridge as it goes west toward the Sierra Crest. There is a little class 2 right near the top, then suddenly you are peering over the west side to see Wynne, Pinchot, Arrow, etc. It took me just under 5 hours to reach this spot. The worst of day one is over. From the crest you can look directly south toward Perkins. Descend slightly to the saddle on the north ridge of Perkins and drop your pack. If you are low on water, put snow in a black trash bag again. If it is a sunny day, you will have at least a quart of water in the bag after climbing Perkins. If it is overcast and cold, forget it. The climb up Perkins will take just over one hour to climb and come back to the pack if you don't lounge around. During the climb if you stay on the crest it is third class and loose. If you stay about 15 to 30 feet on the west side of the crest, you will avoid many ups and downs and find easy class two.

After climbing Perkins and you are back to the pack, start descending the class two slopes to the west heading for the small pair of lakes at 3415 southeast of Mt. Wynne. These lakes are just east of where the John Muir trail makes a turn to the west. Look around for the best descent. It goes. Camp here for the night. I was lounging by the lake at 3:30pm.

Day Two. Climb the east ridge of Mt. Wynne. This is class 2 if you stay on the ridge. Near the summit, go slightly to the north side and up. This should take less than two hours. While relaxing on the summit, you can easily view the class 3 traverse toward Pinchot. This is why you climbed Wynne first so you could scope out the traverse. It looks much worse than it is. By doing Wynne first you will be climbing the class 3 stuff rather than coming down it had you climbed Pinchot first. Now, traverse over to Pinchot for some great views. Descend the class 2 east ridge of Mt. Pinchot and make your way back to camp and pack up. Pick up the John Muir trail and go south for about three fourths of a mile, then head cross country south east, over easy slopes up into the canyon forming a bowl just north of Mt. Cedric Wright. Stay on the north side of the stream until you reach the three little lakes around 3315M. There are plenty of nice camp sites in the trees on the north side of the two highest lakes. I was sipping hot chocolate and soaking in the Sierra karma by 2:00pm.

Day Three. The plan is to climb Mt.Colosseum and go out to the cars. One can do this two different ways depending on your climbing ability and comfort with exposure. If you are comfortable doing class 4 climbing with all your gear, then you can pack up camp, climb Colosseum, and traverse it's north ridge to Armstrong col. If you are not comfortable with this, then you should day hike Colosseum with only a day pack, return to camp, pack up gear and climb up the class 2 slopes just east-north-east of camp going to Armstrong col.

I opted for the traverse. I was on the Summit of Colosseum in less than 2 hours. This is an easy climb. The traverse on the north ridge going down from the summit toward Armstrong col has 4 major hazards. I will describe these in order of DESCENT from the summit.

Start off the summit on it's southeast side and drop 40 to 50 feet. Traverse back toward the north under the summit block below its east facing headwall. There may be a snowfield. Below the snowfield are rocky cliffs. The traverse across the snow field ends at the first notch. You now go around a pinnacle on it's east side to the second notch. It is only about 50 feet of easy class 2. While standing in the second notch facing north, you look at a headwall. Climb from the notch up the headwall toward the crest of the ridge. There are several possible routes going up. I would rate each of them class 4 due to the exposure. The rock is pretty good with good holds, but there is exposure and it is rather vertical. I found the best holds on the most exposed route. Climb the wall and gain the crest staying on the west side. Once back near the crest, you can start descending again toward the north on low class 3 rock. I stayed near the crest but on it's west side. You will gradually begin to see the ridge drop down into the third big notch.

Drop down into the notch. While standing in the third notch facing north you are now facing yet another blocky headwall. The rock here is more loose than the previous climb. Test every hold. Climb the blocks toward the crest of the ridge. There are several possible routes but all end up right near the ridge crest. I would call them class 4 due to exposure. Once on top of the crest again, I stayed near the crest on the west side as I descended again going north toward Armstrong col. As you approach the final of the four notches, it begins to get quite steep. At first there is not an apparaent route that drops you down into the notch. I moved slightly off the crest toward the west before I could drop into the chute coming off the notch. The north side of this fourth and final notch is a major wall that is fifth class. From the notch I descended down the chute toward the west. There is a secondary chute that joins in about a hundred feet below the crest. I climbed up this secondary chute. It is loose class 3 and has some ice in the bottom, but it will go back up to the crest. This is the last major problem. From here it is class 2 all the way down toward Armstrong col.

From the col, I had a nice glissade down into Armstrong canyon. Add some snow to the black trash bag you left a couple of days ago to cool off the water for a refreshing drink and now on to the car.

A good three days.

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