Electra Peak, Iron Mountain


By: Campy Camphausen

The eight of us met at the Mammoth RS on Sunday at 6 am to obtain a wildeness permit and, again an hour later, at the Devil's Postpile parking lot. Rick Jali was assistant leader and we had with us Judy Ware, Delores Holladay, Dave and Mary Ann Campbell, Owen Maloy, George Peck, and I. This was billed as a "leisure" trip for Iron, Foerster, Electra.

George had a bathroom scale set out to weigh our packs; they were 47, 50, 40, and other heavy pounds. "But this trip was supposed to be a 'leisure' trip!", some-body said, and we pondered this leisure trip question over the following 6 days. We got started and crossed the bridge over the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River near the famous basalt columns. Passing the devastation of the recent Rainbow fire, we soon came to green meadows and showy displays of wild flowers. We wet-crossed the full-flowing King Creek (upon our return we found an upstream crossing log).

Our pace slowed during the 1700-foot trudge up the Granite Stairway. Several halts allowed "out-of-shapers" to rejoin us. Group integrity hallmarks a leisure trip, although, admittedly, it's not as critical on other climbs where the lead group may reach camp hours ahead of the slowest. We arrived at Corral Meadow at 4:30 pm. Eight-mile trail, 8 hours.

Iron Mountain (I1,149')
The next morning five of us departed on the trail near camp and climbed through forests and meadows toward the mountain. Delores and Owen had climbed it before so they weren't along. Dave, Mary Ann, and George named the wildflwers and trees as we went. We came to a saddle; cirque basins to the north were filled with snow and half-frozen lakes. We scrambled over the rocky summit ridge. No register or container was found on the summit. To the south we could see a rainstorm over the Sierra and the Inyos.

Camp was moved to Llvingston Meadow via an 8 hout trek along a fairly used but negligently maintained trail. We came to Hemlock Crossing and the bridge spanning the North Fork of the San Joaquin. Staying east of the river, we made camp at 4:30~ pm after 9 miles of trail through the old growth forest. No thought of fun and games; we were bushed! Tents were pitched, sleeping bags were laid out, and after dinner and a brief camp fire, we were ready to "hang up our feet".

Electra Pk (12,442')
Crossing the big North Fork posed difficulty at first, but then we found a huge, safe snow bridge. After negotiating this and a boulder field, we entered Bench Canyen. Upon crossing Bench Creek we discovered what save the creek its name; a glacier-polished bench loomed above us and from it cascaded a waterfall. We intended to climb Foerster Pk (12,058') but the unattractive wall climb forced our attention to a nearby secondary canyon. Climbing this let us out conveniently at a basin leading to the foot of the higher Electra Peak. Delores, Owen, and I reached its summit at 3 pm (Rick and George didn't climb on this day; Dave, Mary Ann, and Judy were home by now, as they were along only to climb Iron). From the top we enjoyed the splendid view of the Ritter Range. It was a long day, made longer by my mistaking the canyon with our camp, and I led two of us back on an extra goose chase. We were in camp after dark, 9 mi rt, 4300' gain.

The next morning everybody tried to look like they were still sleeplng. I said "It's 7 am, people", and there was a slight stir. The leisure trip idea had finally caught hold. A rest day was available, but too few wanted to climb Foerster afterward. Reasons were given for ditching it and returning some other time. We left, and it took us 2 days to be back at The Mogul in Mammoth for dinner. Thanks go to Rick Jail for his excellent assist.

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