Matthes Crest (and Bunny Slopes for desert)

21-22 Jun 2008 - by Julius Gawlas

Inspired by Peter Croft's description and glowing recommendation from Rick's Five Favorites Mike Snadden and I decided to climb Matthes Crest during weekend of June 21-22.

We headed out from the Bay Area early afternoon of Friday, avoiding most of the traffic and reached Tuolumne Meadows campground around 9 PM. We got lucky - it turned out it just opened on the same day. On Saturday after quick a breakfast and sorting out the gear we started from Cathedral Lakes trailhead just after 6 AM. After a few minutes we left the main trail and headed towards Budd Lake. We never saw Budd Lake, but the approach turned out to be rather straightforward, with very little snow on the ground. Once we could see the Matthes Crest we simply traversed towards the south notch - the start of the route. Entire approach took ~3 hours.

We started climbing just before 10 am; with two 60m half ropes it took two pitches of ~5.6 to reach the ridge. Once on the ridge we simul-climbed it. It was beautiful - just as advertised - awesome rock, exposure and views. Climbing seemed mostly fourth class. Once or twice we got off the route and ended up on a real thin block with no way forward and had to retrace back and traverse a few feet below. There was only one other party on the route and one guy passed us going solo. Final climb to the South Summit was real fun. Using the topo advice we down climbed from the South Summit and back and on ledges to the notch.

During the day wind picked up and we had a few clouds approaching from all sides. Once on the notch it was clear the we are going to have one of the *Sierra afternoon thunderstorms*. We found rappel slings and while setting up the rappel we could hear a few thunderclaps, and got hit with a bit of rain mixed up with hail. All this made for a rather hasty retreat.

Down in the valley we met some folks biving overnight and intending to go up the Crest next day. They offered us some hot cider and after some pleasant chat we headed back towards the car. Fortunately the rain quickly stopped and the hike back was quite pleasant. We reached the car around 7 pm.

Next morning we were a bit tired so we started slower with more modest goals. We went to Bunny Slopes to practice our slab skills. We climbed all the routes there (mostly bolted sport) and really liked it. Weather was magnificent and the setting is great with Pywiack Dome, Tenaya and Cathedral Peak in the distance. On top of that we had a place to ourselves. Early afternoon we started going home planning when we will come back for more.

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