Charleston late-season snow climb

pics by Harlan W.S.
May 29, 2010

 

I wasn’t sure about my objectives today; it started as an equipment test for a new pack and boots. I broke in the boots, but not before they broke in my feet. I just happened to throw in crampons, 100’ of webbing, knee-length gaiters, a light down jacket, neoprene socks, a whippet (quasi-ice-axe)… and well, I guess some part of my mind wanted more. I knew that Paul K and friends would be starting up from Lee Canyon early that day, and I had this very dim thought that I might meet them for a Charleston summit. I started ~8:30 from Trail Canyon.

 

Next week is projected to have much warmer temperatures, so the complexion of the North Loop Trail (NLT) may change quickly. Snow was clearly melting off the trail from the time I started, till I returned at 5:30PM.

 

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My route is in red. Paul, James and

Ron started from Lee (dark red dots)

and initially took the very sketchy

route around east of Devil’s Thumb.

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As I head up the NLT, just W of

Trail Canyon, Charleston does not look

too friendly.

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…and looking back SE at Griffith, the

South Loop Trail (SLT) looks like it

may be post-hole territory for weeks

to come.

 

 

 

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Finally a good view of Devil’s Thumb.

I wanted to avoid the NLT (which had

50 hard snow), so my strategy was to

follow the blue line.

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Now I’m looking S at Devil’s Thumb.

I’ll go up the cliffs in back and to the

R of the Thumb itself.

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View S from ridgeline. Now here’s

the secret: the W slope of the

Devil’s Thumb ridge was mainly bare.

I had to don crampons for just one section

of 100’ vertical.

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The white line in the distance is the CA Sierra.

 

 

 

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Mummy, head (L) to toe (R).

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Arrogance, and proper attire.

The high for the day was about 45F,

but with sun and no wind, I was warm.

 

 

 

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View ESE over ridge to Griffith. Once

on the ridge, some post-holing would get

one to the summit.

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Most recent log entries indicated

non-standard routes.

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Suddenly Paul and James showed up

on the summit. I had seen their crampon

prints heading off on the frightening part

of the NLT, and assumed they had

already summitted and gone down. But,

they had taken a sketchy chute that required

arduous self-belay and numerous crampon

changes to get over difficult rock.

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Telescope is visible at top L; the

beautiful city of Pahrump is in the sun.

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We start down, above the steep section.

 

 

 

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I stop to put on crampons, and my

compatriots move ahead. We were going

to meet up and go down my route together,

to avoid their slow sketchy chute.

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We used webbing in two places as

handlines, as klunky boots and snow

made this route “interesting.”

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James comes back on the trail!

 

 

 

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Paul and James on a ledge. Soon we part;

they head back to Lee.

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As I hit Trail Canyon, I get one last look

at Charleston.