Ski Mountaineering

Telescope Peak, aka Horton Lakes Ski Camp
May 25-26,1996

Leaders: Keith Martin,Tom Marsh

It was late on Thursday night. The weather prediction was for storms over the Sierra. Tom, my assistant, and I had spent too many Memorial Days sitting in tents by some high Sierran Lake. We decided not to repeat the experience. When informed of the decision, Paulette Woodward was exasperated, here we had a whole Memorial Day Weekend, we couldn't just do nothing! And so was born another Ski Mountaineering Section hike of Telescope Peak.

Saturday afternoon we grouped at the Wildrose Campground in Death Valley. In separate groups, we had spent the time exploring the sights along the way to our meeting place. Some explored Skidoo and Trona Pinnacles while others climbed Wildrose Peak. In the small hamlet of Ballarat the store owner offered alien skulls (which looked very much like Jack Rabbits) and beef jerky fresh off the cow. Telescope Peak was well dusted with snow. A posted report on the camp bulletin board warned of dangerous and icy conditions suitable only for experienced mountaineers. After a second reading, I realized it was posted in May of 1995. A talk with the ranger encouraged us to stick with our plans, he expected mostly clear conditions With snow drifts not exceeding two feet.

Sunday morning dawned clear and breezy. Mahogany Flats trailhead was full of parked cars. The first several miles were on clear trail. We found some drifts as we traversed around Bennett Peak. Just north of Telescope, but several parties of hikers were ahead of us, and a good path was stomped down through the snow. The saddle between the peaks was clear. As we approached Telescope, we initially tried to follow the winter trail along the north ridge. We quickly realized that the summer trail, to the east side of the ridge, was clear enough to hike. The combination of warming temperatures and hikers ahead, made for an easy and enjoyable ascent to the top. The wind stopped blowing long enough for us to savor our lunch and the views of the Sierra to the West and Death Valley to the east. The long hike back was uneventful, the trail being nearly clear from the day's sun and traffic. We took our time returning to camp, enjoying the long sunfilled day, and exploring the charcoal kilns next to the road. An extended happy hour and dinner finished off the adventure back at Wildrose campground, as we were entertained by a group of boy scouts getting stranded midway up a rocky slope across the road from camp. The last straggler was coaxed down by the combined efforts of excited dads and the ranger.

Monday we went our separate ways. Some opted for an early return home. Others spent the day enjoying the Unseasonably mild temperatures in Death Valley, exploring the sights around the Sand Dunes, Golden Canyon and Furnace Creek.

Thanks to Tom Marsh; Assistant Leader, and participants: Gwen Hembrock, Ron Hall, Paulette Woodward and Gary Landers.

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