Ascents of Mount Baxter (Southwest Slope, class 2), Acrodectes Peak (East Ridge, class 2) and Black Mountain (North Slope, class 2), with Adrien Wacziarg, May 29-June 1, 2022.


May 29, 2022. This was to be my cousin Adrien Wacziarg's first mountaineering trip; we planned to climb several 4,000 meter peaks. We left Mammoth early and set out along the trail to Baxter Pass at 8:45. It was a cold and windy day, so the time spent hiking in the desert scrub was not too unpleasant. We were slow on the trail with our heavy packs and lack of acclimation. We stopped for lunch about a mile below Summit Meadow and Adrien noticed he had lost his phone somewhere in the thicket around Oak Creek. We continued on and found a nice campsite at Summit Meadow at 15:00. Having set up camp, we returned to our lunch spot in the evening to see if we could find the lost phone. Adrien continued on below that point for a bit, but did not have any success. We spent a comfortable evening in camp. (A 7:06 hour day, 6:26 hours moving, 7.84 miles, 5,612 feet of elevation gain).

May 30, 2022. It was a bitterly cold night and the day would be no different. We left camp at 7:45 and continued on to Baxter Pass, reaching it at 9:09. We descended 1,000 feet to the upper Baxter Lake and took a break there. We then started up the talus and ledges to Grasshopper Pass. Spotting what seemed like a more solid rib on the right side of the drainage, we made our way directly along the Southwest Slope of Mount Baxter, without climbing to the pass. This proved just as tedious, and progress was slow. I reached the summit at 12:36, with Adrien following about a half hour later. For the descent we followed the ridge down to Grasshopper Pass, finding it somewhat more solid than what we did. After lunch there, at 14:20 I took off for Acrodectes Peak while Adrien settled down for a nap. This was more interesting than Baxter, and the peak is higher, so I am not sure why they did not choose this one for the SPS list. I was on the summit at 14:56, enjoyed the outstanding views of Mount Clarence King and the neighboring peaks, and left after a short while to rejoin Adrien. I was back at the pass at 15:35, finding him fast asleep. We then started down the very tedious talus separating us from the Baxter Lakes, arriving there at 16:47. Then up a faint trail and some snow for the 1,000 feet back up to Baxter Pass. We were greeted to beautiful afternoon light as we made our way back to camp (19:14). (A 11:29 hour day, 9:07 hours moving, 7.25 miles, 5,000 feet of elevation gain).

May 31, 2022. It got warmer that night, and the wind had abated. Our plans for this day included ascents of Black Mountain and Diamond Peak. We left camp at 8:51, and chose to access the cirque between Black and Diamond via a slightly circuitous route – first hiking up the Baxter Pass trail some way and then skirting left toward the flatter part of the cirque. Our return that afternoon would show this to be a suboptimal choice. It was, however, quite fast, and we soon found ourselves staring up the North slope of Black Mountain, finding an easy way through the cliffs that line the lower portion of the face. This was mostly solid talus and scree, though we progressed very slowly. We could see the summit crest but could not tell where the summit was. We aimed for rocks on the left side, planning to traverse the upper ridge to the high point. To do this, we treated ourselves to a few moves of class 2+, and reached the summit at 12:46. This ascent took a lot longer than planned, and looking across the cirque at the South slope of Diamond Peak did not generate much enthusiasm due to the considerable amount of scree that is encountered there. So we descended along a more direct line down the North slope of Black Mountain, to the small glacial tarns in the center of the cirque. Adrien got his first experience with glissading. We took a late lunch break on a flat rock in full view of the whole cirque, and then took a more direct line down some snow slopes back to Summit Meadow and camp, reaching it at 16:45. We spent a leisurely evening in camp. (A 7:31 hour day, 6:14 hours moving, 2.82 miles, 2,500 feet of elevation gain).

June 1, 2022. We briefly toyed with the idea of climbing Diamond Peak, but I was under some pressure to return to LA that same day, to spend time with the family ahead of their departure to France for the rest of June. So we packed up camp, left at 8:10, hiked down the 6 miles to the car at a good pace, reaching the trailhead at 11:05. We went back to Mammoth for lunch and showers, and made it back to LA comfortably that evening. A fitting end to the first trip of the season – but not the last. (A 2:55 hour day, 2:47 hours moving, 5.95 miles, 112 feet of elevation gain).

Trip totals: 29:01 total hours, 24:34 moving hours, 23.86 miles, 13,224 feet of elevation gain.


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