Matterhorn Peak, Twin Peaks, Virginia Peak, Whorl Mountain
By: Larry Tidball, Scott Jamison
They really wanted those peaks. Two weeks prior to the trip I had a fu11 permit of 7, plus a waiting list of 10, and a couple more coming in on their own permit; By the time we started the hike from Twin Lakes 7:00 Friday Morning I had had enough cancellations to go through most of the waiting list. 7 of us started out up the Horse Creek drainage with Delores and Dan planning on joining us in camp after picking up their own permit in Bridgeport. By the way. hiker parking at the end of the Road in Mono Village is $5.00 per car. There is no nearby free parking.
Two miles up Horse Creek the maintained trail veers off to Cattle Creek and a good use trail continues up Horse Creek. We followed this use trail as it disappeared into a tangle of bushes 20 feet beyond the Hoover Wilderness sign. I Guess they mean it when they say Wilderness. Once past the brush the use trail was fairly obvious most of the time, crossing a talus side-hill prior to ascending the big talus slope (Your pick from the many use trails). Above the talus the trail comes into a good campsite. From the campsite do not follow the ducked obvious trail up the side-hill. The correct route(as we found on our descent) goes through the trees parallel to the creek to emerge in the valley beyond. The wrong trail from this campsite switch backs up the hill, and then ends with you looking at the real route far below. Once in the upper portion of Horse Creek, the correct use trail goes, if you are careful, most of the way to the pass. It's easy to lose in some of the talus fields.
Five of us arrived at our planned campsite (near a small lake just over the pass Southeast of Matterhorn Peak) at 1:00 PM just in time to get our tents set up before a big hard hail, thunder and lightning storm hit. Scot was sweeping with Barbara Reber (a bit slower than the rest of the group) and they waited out the storm in a sheltered spot below the last rise to the pass. Also taking shelter nearby was Dan & Delores. The storm quit about 3:30 and both groups arrived in camp about 30 minutes later.
Our Group, now all together consisted of: Dan Sherman, Delores Holladay, Barbee Hoffmann, Barbara Reber, Ret Moore, Gisela Kluwin, Ellen Miller. Scot Jamison & myself. This is a beautiful campsite situated at about 10,600' in an alpine basin surrounded by 4 listed peaks.
Saturday we were up at 5:30 and off at 6:30 for Twin and Virginia. Our hope was to be back in camp before the threatening skys let loose again. 8 of us (Barbara stayed in camp)headed across the green slopes and short talus field to the base of Twin. We then climbed straight up to a deep chute reminiscent of the one on the SW face of Black Kaweah. We followed this deep & narrow chute to the summit ridge heading for a point near the apparent highest pinnacle as seen from camp. A little bit of 3rd class near the top put us on easy class 2 slopes about 100 yards North of the summit. We were on top at 8:30 and after a brief break to look through the 1964 era register we headed for Virginia. We headed south along the ridge and soon passed the top of a broad chute that looked like a class 2 route all the way from camp. The ridge continuing on towards Virginia drops off and becomes 3rd class but this goes easily and soon we arrived at the saddle North of Virginia. At this point, Delores and Gisela headed back to camp (they both already had Virginia). From the saddle a use trail heads up just to the right of the ridge all the way to the summit(class 2). We placed a new SPS register can and book on the summit to replace the missing ones. Thanks to Barbee for carrying the canister! We left the top of Virginia at 10:20, and after dropping down from the pass north of Virginia., we traversed above the cliffs back towards camp arriving at 12:25 PM.
The weather was still holding off so while most of us had a leisurely lunch in camp. Barbee. Ellen and Ret climbed Matterhorn by the SE slopes. They left camp about 1:00 and were on top at 2:30 and back in camp by 3:30 just in time to get into their tents to miss the afternoon thunderstorm. They reported that the register and the canister are missing.
The storm was brief and we were able to get the Happy-Hour under way as scheduled. As usual we had a great spread of food and most of us didn't have room for dinner afterwards.
Sunday was the appointed day for Whorl (A grudge peak for several of the participants). We started at 6.30 again and followed Bill T's excellent route description for the 3rd class SE chute(Echo #35-5 Sept 91). I didn't traverse quite far enough south before starting up. We went up one chute too soon with some 3rd class up over a slabby area. The correct chute is very much class 2 and sandy. Our ascent chute intersected the upper traverse to the right and we followed a couple of ducks over to the chock stone, went up the tunnel underneath, and on up to the summit 2-1/2 hours from camp. We were back in camp, packed up and on the trail for Twin Lakes by noon and out to the cars by 4:00. We all grabbed a quick 50 cent shower before hitting the road for the long drive home.
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