Pettit Peak, Piute Mountain, Tower Peak, Volunteer Peak
By: Dale Van Dalsem
We planned on a car shuttle: going in from Buckeye Campground, coming out to Twin Lakes. Got the idea from Dykeman; Tower is 4.4 mi. closer from Buckeye; the other 3 peaks are 5.0 mi closer from Twin Lakes, according to the '87 Hoover Wilderness Map. Our "Keep up or get signed out" trip sheet, and the prospect of 75 mi & 15K', blew away all applicants except Rob Langsdorf, who cheated by going in a day early. Rob did save the day by getting us a permit the day before. The Bridgeport R.S. opened at 8 A.M.; we'd have gone in sans permit; otherwise, there's no way we could have made Tower on day one. We did encounter one ranger, a Forest Ranger, 2 mi. inside the National Park, on horseback, WITH A DOG, who peed on my pack!(The dog did, not the ranger!).
Anyway, car shuttles are difficult with one vehicle, so we went in and out of Buckeye. Day 1 we started at 6 A.M., picked up Langsdorf at Buckeye Junction, humped over Kirkwood Pass & camped at first water on Kirkwood Creek at 9300', then SW XC to TOWER PEAK. Follow the left-most (southerly) drainage to the N. Ridge & ascend the steps to the summit. Easy cl 3; no one should need a rope. Back to camp by last light at 7:30 P.M. & we had a fire, as we did every night on this trip. Toughest day at 13.5 hrs.
Day 2 we hiked to Lake Benson & camped on the beach. Arguably, Lake Benson is the most beautiful lake in the Sierra Nevada! We were there 2 nights & could have stayed much longer. A natural lake, rimmed with rock cliffs except for this incredible sandy beach. Sierra surf city! 10 hr day, camp at 4:30!
Day 3 we bagged VOLUNTEER, staying on trail until 9700', then N to notch & W to summit. Nested red cans; Mtn Records didn't give us SPS canister. We tried to stay high & ran into a lot of up & down; best angle down to Rodgers Lake & lose the gain. Another 10 hr day & gorgeous sunset on Lake Benson & bathing in the lake!
Labor day we packed up to 8400' on the PCT & did PIUTE. We went for the notch E of the summit & did the E. Face, about 5.2, then came down the usual route, the big gully at UTM 768117, 1 Km SSE of summit. Then over Buckeye Pass to camp at first water: 11 Hr day.
Day 5 saw us out by noon for the 370 mi drive to L.A., w/ Major Pig-out at Bishop Sizzler.
A glorious weekend; perfect weather & a beautiful, remote area with two of the best, Dave & Rob - Dale
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