Sunday, November 20, 2011

Mt. Humphreys

North Face of Humphreys
We climbed the left gully to the East Ridge

Joel leads the couilee
Mike and Josh on the East Ridge

Dave and Joel on the East Ridge

Joel leading across Matrimony Ledge, a balancey traverse on snow

Mt Tom and Basin Mtn looking towards Bishop

Bailing below the summit block

That's my van, Joel's Suby, and Dave's Westy in the lot

Trish climbing in the Owens River Gorge

Really no reason to leave Bishop California, the weather has been great and there's any kind of climbin you want. Planet Kauffman has captured Dave "all free bro" and headed up into the 'pine for some adventurin. Just under 14k, Mt Humphreys dominates the Sierra skiyline west of the Owens Valley offering nearly 10k feet of elevation gain from town.
Our mission began at 5am as we cranked the Suby up unforgiving red-neck jeepin terrain, stopped a mile from the trailhead and began the hike. Amazingly, Josh and Mike from Bishop were also going to climb Mt. Humphreys and we chatted on the approach. Turns out they're also gettin' ready for a trip to Patagonia.
Armed to the teeth with sharp stuff Dave, Joel, and I motored to the huge bowl below the north face. Spindrift raked the moraine, starting as a distant swirl then quickly engulfing us in white noise. The coulior was variable and ranged from great styrofoam alpine ice to a spot of wallowing through powder snow. After nearly two months off from the shoulder injury it was fun to be back on the tools, climbing in the mountains with friends. We reached a notch where the gully hits the east ridge and started rock climbing, brushing snow from ledges with gloved hands. Josh and Mike were a few hundred meters behind us now. Sometimes the climbing hardened and we got out the rope, but mostly the terrain was fun and easy enough to solo.
At the final summit tower, the sun was sinking fast although it was only 4:00pm. With likely another half hour to the top and back, we decided to bail and get a start on the descent, back down the east ridge. We downclimbed and rappelled back to the notch, then broke off to the north down a different snow gully. Darkness overcame the team and we stumbled through snowy moraine, frequently falling in invisible booby-traps. We made it back to the road and the Suby, then rallied the rough road back to the parking lot. We were exhausted and psyched on our little mission.