Tower Peak

30 Aug - 1 Sep 2008 - by Stephane Mouradian

Four of us climbed Tower Peak over Labor Day week end. Participants were Fi Verplanke, Rod Mccalley, Kirsten and Stephane Mouradian (Leader). We used the Leavit Meadow trailhead which, as of this date only has a self register permit without quota. On the first day we left at 7am and hiked ~15miles (3000') at a moderate pace to Tower Lake, which we reached at 6pm. We found a good camping area for our small group immediately as the trail reaches the lake. It was a little windy when we arrived but the wind kept intensifying through the night. This wind was probably related to the heat wave affecting all of Northern California. Next morning, we did not quite make our 6:30am target leaving time, leaving closer to 7am instead. The wind was strong. We headed for the obvious saddle on the south side, easily avoiding a couple snowfields. At the saddle, we did not head up and East right away and had to deal with 10min of bushwhacking. The famous chute is clearly visible from the saddle. We took a beeline for the NW ridge leading to the summit. We first went up some large slabs, then we had to snake our way around some small brush and class 2-3 large boulders, which was not an issue except we had to stop and regroup several times to make sure everyone was accounted for. As we were climbing, we were battered by the relentless wind. We were climbing in the shade and the wind was making some of us very cold as we had to stop several times to regroup. I considered going straight for the ridge top to be in the sun but it was clear the wind was even stronger up there and we would to have back down to the shady side anyway in order to avoid obstacles. Finally everyone held their own and we reached the main chute with its easy, mostly class 2 climbing. We summitted at 10am, and finally enjoyed some sunshine to warm us up a little. For the descent, we took one of the sandy slopes partly to stay in the sun, partly to bypass the boulder fields. We were back at camp at 1pm. Three of us left camp at 2pm to make some headway towards home. Rod signed out to enjoy more time at camp. The three others were back at the car on the third day at 10am.

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