Mount Morrison, San Joaquin Mountain
By: Bob Hartunian, Patty Kline
Patty Kline gathered a dozen ambitious climbers at Convict Lake and said "Take 'em up, Bob", but she didn't specify which mountain. So we ambled around to the west end of the lake and surveyed the best route to Morrison, only I was looking at the wrong peak until members of the party questioned our potential direction. With objective changes made, we followed the route shown on the diagram.
It proceeds south up a long sage-slope to the hanging valley, then up talus/scree to notch A (10,800). Next step was up to notch B, where the route then traversed 150 feet across loose talus over a brown rock rib. From here up, we followed the slope on class 2 ledges/talus to the skyline and summit register. On the way down, at places where rocks could be kicked down, I had the group descend one at a time; it took longer but avoided problems.
As a variation on the route, we returned to notch A and came down the east side into a long, left-sweeping "sagey" valley that terminates on a dirt road above Convict Lake and the campground. This was a longer return but avoided talus throughout the hanging valley and added scenic variety, probably 11-12 miles for the day.
Deer hunters were stalking through the woods at Minaret Summit on Sunday as we headed for San Joaquin, so we made loud, unappreciated noises to distinguish ourselves from a deer herd. There is a fine dirt road just below and east of the summit parking lot that follows the long ridge line to bump 9707. It would be advantageous to drive the road and save over a mile each way.
A good use trail extends most of the way to San Joaquin, staying on the ridge line as it undulates to the summit. As we dropped down a sandy slope to Deadman Pass, I spotted cougar tracks from the previous night traveling along the trail. After 20 years in the mountains, I have yet to see a cougar in the wild.
The scenic panorama to the west provides outstanding views of the Minarets and Ritter/Banner, with rock benches and blue lakes in the foreground. You can't help stopping often to look, 'specially with the ideal weather we had. This hike to San Joaquin made a perfect conclusion to .really enjoyable, fall weekend. Much thanks to the following climbers--Cyril Weaver, Carol Brede, Tom Neely, Steve Nardi, Bob Wyka, Mike Kelley, Wayne Norman, Carolyn West, Dave Michels and Doug Hatfield for their participation and to Patty Kline for organizing all the details of the trip.
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