Finger Peak, Tunemah Peak


By: Dale Van Dalsem

Everyone who has done these two peaks says, "We went in on route A, but don't do it that way; route B or C must be better." We met in the middle of the night, 5:30 A.M. at Wishon Dam, con- solidated all 6 of us (leaders plus Vi G., Dolores H., Bob Sumner, & Mike Wolfe) & packs into ON ON, the Tired Toyota, & started up the Spanish Lake 4WD route. After an hour of bone-jarring bumps & improbable squeezes, I woosed out at 8300', facing a field of knee-high pan-smashing boulders (ON ON has no skid plates!), we parked and hiked the last 800' gain to the wilderness boundary near SE corner of Sec 33. Then down the blocked-off road (Not shown on the '86 Rough Spur 7.5 topo, probably at NFS request. Come on dummies; at least show it as a trail!). We hooked into a mapped trail just north of Spanish Lake, packed through Crown Valley & across Crown Creek, 3" deep, not 3', humped up & down & up Blue Canyon to camp at the 8300' level by about 5 P.M. BEST: PACK ALL THE WAY TO 8430', GREAT CAMPSITE AT N. END OF BIG MEADOW!

Day 2 we bagged both peaks as Bob, weakened by root canal trauma, hiked out. Dave led the S Ridge of FINGER, traversing R near the top. Mike & Delores dropped back & we didn't wait; big day ahead. Mike eventually got the peak. Down to 3, after Finger, a fine 3rd Class peak (no rope needed), we headed for the notch at UTM 474960, .5 mi S of 11646 on '83 Mt Goddard 7.5 topo, crossed Alpine Creek basin & slogged up TUNEMAH, an almost-angle-of-repose crudheap with no redeeming virtues (Some, who regard the List as brought down by Moses, will say "But it goes well with Finger" Friends, NOTHING goes well with Finger!). Back over the afore- mentioned notch into the Blue Canyon drainage as the sun set & we broke out headlamps & compasses. We found the Blue Canyon Trail again at about 9700' & lost it & refound it 50 times as we stumbled back to camp at 11 P.M. after a 17-hour day. Delores, in an act that typifies her selfless thoughtfulness, had filled our pots with water so we could cook without finding the stream! Tunemah has an oriental food cannister on top, probably placed by Hellman/Bihl in bygone years! No SPS cannister from Mtn Records.

Day 3 was a reverse of day one, a 10-hour slog, followed by a traumatic hour of 4WD. Our elapsed time from Crown Valley Camp to the Crown Valley Trailhead, just N of Rancheria Creek, includ- ing hike + 4WD time, was 5 hrs. Two years ago, we hiked out di- rectly to this roadhead in under 4 hours! DON'T TAKE THE SPANISH LAKE 4WD TRACK, unless you're doing Spanish Mtn only, have skid- plates, and love a route that makes the Swansea Grade to N.Y Butte look like the 1-5. It is about 2 hours longer, round trip total!

We re-plagued our arteries with Me-n-Ed's Pizza in Sanger, S end of town just W of main drag on side street: not bad. -Dale

Summary:·A brutal 2nd day. Better: a tough 4 days or moderate 5 days & get Spanish Mtn, Tehipite Dome as well as Finger R T.; we went right by both, but had done them two years ago, which reminds me that this was the two-year anniversary of the end of Mountaineering Insurance, and THE END OF THE SIERRA CLUB AS A CLIMBING ORGANIZATION. -Dale

SPS Trip Report Index | Sierra Peaks Section