Ski Mountaineering

Clarence King and Gardiner

Aug 17-20, 1995

Reiner Stenzel

This was a summer peak climbing trip with my late friend Ali Aminian. Our climbing objectives were two cl 4-5 peaks, Clarence King and Gardiner. Ali was an experienced rock climber and I was glad to be in his company on Clarence King. We were both CMC members and scheduled it as an official CMC trip, but found no other participants, probably because of a 4-day extended weekend trip.

On Fri, 8/17, we headed up the Kearsarge Pass trail with heavy packs that included rope and climbing gear. Since 1995 was an El Nino year there was still plenty of snow in late summer the high country. Pothole lake was still half frozen over. The weather was perfect and we made it in good time over the pass.

Then we continued the trail to Glenn Pass. At a small lake below the pass we had a good rest and refilled water. From the top of the pass there was a fine view over the Rae Lakes. The north side of Glenn Pass had still large snow fields.

From Glenn Pass we went XC toward Sixty Lakes Basin. Looking back there was a fine view of nearby Mt Rixford, looking ahead one could see Cotter and Clarence King. Sixty Lakes Basin is a beautiful place where we set up basecamp, somewhere between Fin Dome and Cotter near one of the many lakes.

On Sat, 8/18, we had an early start to climb C.K. Our peak lit up in the morning sun as we were heading toward its south ridge. Following R.J. Secors description we ascended close to the east drop-off of the ridge toward the summit. We squeezed around the overhanging block and reached the cl 5.4 summit boulder.

Ali tossed the rope over the summit block, put on his rock shoes and lead the short pitch in no time. Then he belayed me and we both were on the summit and found the peak register. We enjoyed the fine views on this day without a cloud in the sky.

After a nice relaxing time on the summit we rappelled off the boulder and retrieved all of our gear. The hike down was uneventful. We were back at camp early and enjoyed a long evening.

On Sun, 8/19, we headed into Gardiner Basin. We ascended from the east a saddle on the ridge and followed the somewhat exposed ridge to the summit. No rope was needed. It was another fine climb with a rewarding view on another "typical" perfect Sierra day.

Having accomplished both of our goals we happily descended and returned to basecamp. Since it was early in the day we packed up and headed out over Glenn Pass to the Kearsarge Lakes where we spent the night.

On Mon, 8/20 we hiked out leisurely, quite different from our earlier death march to Brewer et al. It ended another fine trip together.

On the drive home there was a summer thunderstorm in the Mojave desert which produced a beautiful double rainbow.

Back to Trip Reports
Back to SMS Home Page