Four Thirteeners

24-26 Sep 2010 - by Stephane Mouradian

Jesper and I co-lead this mini 13ner bagging fest. We had a permit for 6 but nobody signed up, I guess we have to work on our trip write up skills and make it sound better next time. The overall plan was to approach on day 1 and set up camp in the cirque between Winchell and Agassiz. Summit both on day 2 and move camp to the base of Aperture. On day 3 carry our packs up and over Aperture, leave the packs at Jigsaw Pass and climb Gendarme and camp or head out depending.

Day 1, Approach:
We overdid it at Jack's and did not leave Glacier lodge until 9:15am. We reached Sam Mack Meadow at 1pm but pushed on another ~1500' to the unnamed lake at 12,350' located in between Winchell and Agassiz so we could climb both peaks from there. We reached the lake at 3:30pm. While it is mostly boulders up there, we found two cleared out sites close to the lake. The very best site had a small weather station planted right in the center, when it could have easily been placed next to it. Thanks. Day 1 stats: 9.25mi, +4500'

Day 2: Winchell and Agassiz.
We left the lake at 6:10am and approached the Winchell NE ridge from the North. This is the less conventional approach since most parties go around and approach Winchell from the South side. Coming from the North and facing the ridge, we stayed North (left) of the main buttress and found a short steep chute to gain the ridge below the buttress. Once on the main ridge, we ascended and stayed left of the buttress. We followed the ridge proper all the way. At some point, the ridge naturally lead us into a chute and we continued up expecting that we would have to traverse left into another chute as described by Secor. We continued up all the way and reached a knife edge with the peak to our left, we traversed left and gained the second chute leading o the top. In hindsight, we found that we could have avoided the knife edge and traversed left lower at some major light color rock band. We found a duck for that route on the way down. We summitted at 8:10am, so that was a 2 hour climb from our lake.

Knowing we had a long day ahead, we enjoyed summit chocolate for 10 min and headed down to go to Agassiz. We mostly took the same ridge down, stayed left of the buttress, dropped down the chute we used to gain the ridge and then took a beeline toward Agassiz. We cutoff left and higher than Lake 12,350' and we reached the Agassiz snow field at 11am. We used the main chute from the South side which seemed most direct, it has a prominent fan out at the bottom and it is scree. Jesper had some colorful words to describe this kind of scree...but the ordeal went by quickly as we gained the ridge and summitted at 12:20pm. The register had recent entries by world famous Himalaya climbers: Conrad Anker and Peter Kroft (8/17/10), Arun Mahajan (8/15/10), Kelly Maas (?/10)...

We took a decent break in the perfect weather and started down at 1:15pm. We reached our camp at Lake 12,350' at 2:45pm. We packed up camp and started toward the foot of Aperture. We traversed east around Agassiz staying at about 12,400' to gain the drainage between Agassiz and Aperture. There are 2 ponds shown on the topo map along the route around Agassiz. Heading toward Aperture, we reached a small pass at 12,600' and set up camp at 5:30pm. This area is all boulders and moraine. We spent about 30min moving rocks in order to clear space for our small 2 man tent. Our camp was right at the pass, before a 200' drops toward to the base of Aperture. Day 2 stats: 5.2mi, +4100'

Day 3: Aperture, Gendarme, out.
We packed up camp and started at 6:15am. We had to drop 200' and navigated the bouldery moraine toward the SE face of Aperture. This peak is not on the SPS list, it has a 1 line route description in Secor and no trip report...We headed toward the obvious chute with a little apprehension considering we had our full packs and we were not exactly sure where the route was, if any . The very first step in the chute was solid class 3 and not obvious, we went to the right in the class 3 rocks and managed to go around that first step. We then followed this first chute and took one of the easy sandy ramps to the left in the direction of a second prominent chimney-like chute high up in the rocks leading left toward the top. This second rocky chute had two chockstones halfway up. We went for it and discovered the chockstones can be easily countoured on the right, you just can't see it from the bottom. The chute broadens out afterwards and is easier. When you crest out, the summit is to the right, I know that because we tried both ways...We summitted at 8:30am. This non list summit has a Sierra club metal box. This peak is fairly popular from Bishop/Jigsaw Pass and we were #5&6 this year.

In order to go toward Gendarme, we had to drop down the North face to reach the drainage between Aperture and Gendarme, just east and below Jigsaw Pass. We dropped down the steep face staying right of the buttress such that we were not on the "Jigsaw side" of the buttress. Looking back it seems one might be able to negotiate the ridge if staying left of the buttress but there are some cliffy areas to negotiate and we played it safe by staying right and picking a route we could see.

Note that Jigsaw pass is the higher of the two notches in this drainage. We dropped our packs just below the pass at 10am. We took a beeline toward the summit of Gendarme across the South face and reached what looked like the summit at 11:10am. We then spent 10 painful minutes wondering whether the next rocky gendarme on the ridge was higher, ahming and uhming about the airy ridge to get there and having to tackle that scary gendarme, until Jesper realized there was a glass jar with a register right under his foot...We were #2 on Gendarme Peak this year.

We left the summit at 11:50, picked up our packs and headed down the broad drainage toward Fifth Lake. This part was slower than anticipated and filled with boulders. Staying toward the right side of the drainage high up on the slabs helped avoid the worse parts and we actually found some ducks along that side. We had the advantage of looking down but going up this drainage could lead to slow and difficult route finding through the boulders.

We went right (South) around Fifth Lake and stayed high on the cliffs in the trees until we connected with the run out and the main trail at the Eastern edge. We finally made it to Glacier Lodge trailhead at 6:10pm. Day 3 was ~12mi, ~+2500', -7500'

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