Winchell's Do-Nots

3-4 Aug 2013 - by Aaron Schuman

Do-not climb Mt Winchell exactly the way we climbed it. August 4, 2013, we set out from Sam Mack Meadow at first light. Lisa Barboza was our dauntless leader. Our group was Terry Erickson, Helga Zimmerer, Chris Wahl, Sandra Hao, Toinette Hartshorne, Joe Baker, my endlessly patient editor Judy Molland, and your reporter, Aaron Schuman.


Immediately above camp we left the north fork trail. We continued over moraine up the Big Pine Creek drainage to Sam Mack Lake, and beyond, to the base of Mt Winchell. Judy wasn't feeling well, and she and Joe turned around. The rest of us searched for a right hand gully that exits onto a sidewalk traverse just below a white dike. In spite of having those clear directions from our predecessors, we wrapped too far around the southeast side of the mountain. Our sidewalk was no sidewalk as we crossed the Pacific Crest onto the Dusy Basin side of the mountain.

The wrong traverse featured a step on a flake about 20 meters off the deck. Five of our team stepped across lightly. But Hefty Aaron snapped that rock off its stem and sent it clattering down. I made an unplanned dynamic move that put me on a ledge around the corner. Terry, who was watching me from the sweep position, did not like what he saw. For the next several minutes, I muttered, "Fear! Fear! Fear!"

We came to a place where the wall became noticeably blank. Lisa went ahead to scout. We all watched her accomplish acrobatic class 4 moves, as she become smaller and smaller in the distance. At some point Lisa became aware that she had become a leader with nobody following. She returned to us, and together we re-evaluated and retreated.

Winchell_-_Lisa_zoomed_out Winchell_-_Lisa_zoomed_in

Back on the east side of the mountain, we met a couple of climbers descending. They seemed to like the route they had chosen, and they gave us helpful advice. When we climbed their preferred route, all the features from the 1999 Jim Ramaker trip report made sense. We found the gully, the sidewalk, and the dike. Mostly class 2, with a bit of straightforward class 3, and we were soon crowded together on the 13775-foot summit.


Lisa wants to go back to Mt Winchell and finish the challenging route she began. Winchell "do" or Winchell "do-not"; there is no Winchell "try."

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