ROMAIN WACZIARG

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MOUNT HALE / MOUNT YOUNG / TROJAN PEAK / MOUNT BARNARD / TUNNABORA PEAK / THE CLEAVER / MOUNT CARL HELLER / MOUNT RUSSELL / MOUNT CARILLON


Ascents of Mount Hale (Northwest Chute, class 3), Mount Young (traverse from Mount Hale, class 1), Trojan Peak (West Face, class 2), Mount Barnard (traverse from Trojan Peak, class 2), Tunnabora Peak (South Slope, class 2), The Cleaver (Northwest Ridge, class 3), Mount Carl Heller (East Arête, class 4), Mount Russell (East Ridge, class 3) and Mount Carillon (from Russell-Carillon Pass, class 2), with Ronald Kleber and Robert Zeithammer, May 31 - June 5, 2021.


Timeline:

May 31, 2021. Ronald, Robert and I met at Whitney Portal at 11:00. We finished packing, ate a sandwich near the Whitney Portal Store and set out on the shortcut to the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek approach at 12:07. With 50 pound packs it took over six hours to reach the Russell-Carillon Pass (18:18). A helicopter was rescuing a party that had experienced a tragic accident on the East Ridge of Mount Russell. We descended into the Tulainyo Lake basin, and on toward Wallace Lake. We had planned to camp in the basin just northwest of Mount Hale, but only made it to Wales Lake before night fell. We had found a nice campsite by 20:30. This was to be our base for the next five nights. (An 8:23 hour day, 6.6 miles, 5,100 feet of elevation gain).

June 1, 2021. The plan for the day was to climb Mount Hale and Mount Young. Secor does not describe a scrambling route up Mount Hale from the northern side of the mountain, but Robert had found a trip report that mentioned a chute leading to the summit of Hale from the basin just northwest of the peak. We set out from camp at 8:50 and headed for that basin. We had no trouble locating the Northwest Chute, which contained avoidable snow. We bypassed the snow by following steep class 3 rock up the left side of the chute, and reached the summit of Mount Hale at 12:17. There we had a nice long lunch, took in the views, and then set out on the easy traverse to Mount Young, reaching its summit at 14:00. After about 20 minutes on the summit we started the descent down the Northwest Slope of Mount Young, toward the Wallace Creek drainage. This was mostly sand, with portion of talus near the end. We then hiked up the Wallace Creek drainage, reaching camp at 17:50. (A 9:00 hour day, 8.8 miles, 3,300 feet of elevation gain).

June 2, 2021. Our plan for the third day was to circumnavigate the Mount Barnard massif by hiking around toward the Wright Creek drainage, climbing the West Face of Trojan Peak (a route first climbed by Norman Clyde), then traversing to the summit of Mount Barnard and descending in a straight shot back to camp along its Southwest Slope. We left camp at 6:37, contoured over into the beautiful Wright Lakes area, and were at the base of our ascent chute on the West Face at 10:26. Robert chose a route on the right side of the chute while Ronald and I opted to stick to the left side. This was mostly solid, and went at class 2. We quickly gained the Southwest Ridge of Trojan Peak, which we followed on its right side, reaching the summit at 11:58. Robert had been much faster and was waiting for us on top. We entered our obligatory comments on the superiority of UCLA over USC in the summit register, and went on our way to Mount Barnard, trying to follow its North Ridge as much as possible. We were on the summit at 14:00. The views from there are outstanding in all directions. The descent down the sandy slopes toward camp was fast, and we were back at the tents at 16:39. (A 10:02 hour day, 12 miles, 4,400 feet of elevation gain).

June 3, 2021. This was to be a rest day, but since Robert was among us it turned out to be anything but. We lounged a bit in camp in the morning, and at 8:17 set out to climb Tunnabora Peak. This is an easy talus hike from Tulainyo Lake, and we reached the top at 10:19. From there the lure of the ridge leading to The Cleaver was too much to resist, so off we went. The 3rd class route up The Cleaver, another Norman Clyde classic, was short but fun. We were on the summit at 11:29. On the descent we contoured the lake and started on the two mile hike back to camp. At the base of the North Slope of Mount Morgenson (Peak 4,245), Robert proposed to climb that peak. Ronald agreed, but I was weary of turning this rest day into another death march. I went back to camp, reaching it at 14:01. The cloud cover afforded shelter from the sun, and I was able to nap until Ronald and Robert showed up an hour and a half later. We spent a restful afternoon in camp. (A 5:44 hour day, 6.3 miles, 2,200 feet of elevation gain).

June 4, 2021. This day was to be devoted to climbing Mount Carl Heller, a bump on the Sierra crest that is nonetheless very aesthetic from both its eastern and western aspects, and features one of the Sierra's classic ridge climbs – the East Arête. We left camp at 7:01 and headed toward Wallace Lake. We went over Vacation Pass, climbing class 2-3 ribs on its western side. The pass was reached at 8:31 and we descended the eastern side toward the toe of the East Arête of Mount Carl Heller. The first portion involves a steep rise for which we roped up and which I led (class 4). From there the flat portion of the ridge begins, with a lot of fun class 3 scrambling on a narrow and exposed arête. Higher the ridge again steepens, and we roped up again for some portions of class 4 climbing. We reached a rhombus-shaped rock I had read about in a trip report, and moved to the left (South) side of the arête, Robert and I alternating leads. We went perhaps too far before regaining the ridge on class 3 ledges, and soon found ourselves at the base of a steep, wide crack leading back to the crest of the ridge. Robert led us up this short portion, and we found ourselves at the base of a steep class 3 gully leading to the summit ridge. Here, we met two climbers. Sara and Ryan, from Mammoth, who were dayhiking the route from George Creek. We scrambled up the final steps to the summit (class 3-4). There we met Sara and Ryan again, as they were descending from the summit, and Robert offered Sara a belay down a steep class 4 pillar – which she gladly accepted. We reached the summit at 14:04. By then the weather had significantly worsened, and it started to hail. We quickly signed the register and started down the West face (one rappel just below the summit). As we descended the class 2-3 gully toward Wallace Lake, it started to rain and hail steadily. We took out our raingear, and hunkered down under an overhanging rock to have lunch. We reached camp at 15:40, and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging. (A 8:39 hour day, 5.2 miles, 2,500 feet of elevation gain).

June 5, 2021. In many ways our last day was to be the hardest, as we planned to hike back over the Russell-Carillon Pass with full packs, climb the East Ridge of Mount Russell as well as Mount Carillon, and return to the trailhead. We departed Wales Lake at 7:04 and were slow climbing the class 2-3 rock back to the Russell-Carillon pass, reaching it at 9:01. After a quick break to refuel we started up the East Ridge of Russell, one of several parties on the route that day (a Saturday). The climb was uneventful. We roped up briefly to protect a short step-around move on the upper portion of the ridge, just before the East summit. On the traverse between the two summits, we came across two abandoned packs containing seemingly brand-new gear – probably belonging to the party that had been rescued the previous Monday. We reached the summit at 11:18 and there met two nice ladies named Emily and Maryana. We chatted about climbing, enjoyed the views and signed the register where I left a note in memory of Alberto Alesina. Alberto and I had tried to climb this peak together in 2004, by the Fishhook Arête   an attempt that had not gone well. Other climbers started to arrive on the summit, including one in trail running garb, named Joe. We started our descent, which went very smoothly, and were back at the packs at 13:16. We had lunch there, and took off for the short scramble up Mount Carillon. We tagged the summit at 13:51 and stayed for about twenty minutes. Then it was time for the long descent down to Clyde Meadow and then down the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. We were back  at the cars at 18:00. Robert went for dinner at the Whitney Portal Store while Ronald and I drove to my place in Mammoth for some well-deserved rest after an intense trip. (A 10:56 hour day, 8.1 miles, 2,600 feet of elevation gain).

Trip totals: 52:44 hours, 47 miles, 20,100 feet of elevation gain.

Photos:

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