Mount Muir, Mount Hale, Mount Young
By: Bob Wyka
The five of us were all eager to get into the Sierra and have the 5400 feet of climbing behind us as we started up the Mt. Whitney trail toward Trail Crest at 7:15 am. We had just left the parking lot where evidence of a bear break-in was obvious to a car with its window broken and rear seat ripped up. The ranger notice on the car windshield said "Don't blame the bears, it is the fault of us people who leave food in their cars."
The trail is as I remember it from some 12 years ago except now the 99 switchbacks have been relocated to avoid the late season snow fields. Once we got to Trail Crest the leader took off for Muir having found no takers to join him. After a false start up the wrong shallow chute I located the correct route which was made evident by the well-defined dirt use trail that stands out among the granite rocks. The group reconvened at a very nice campsite about 300 feet above Guitar Lake, which positioned us well for the climb of Hale the next morning.
For the ascent to Hale, we used the east-facing chute north of peak 3879m that placed us in a direct approach and a climb of only I hour fifty minutes from the camp to the summit. The weather in the morning looked ominous and made us hike a little faster. Peter Christian was suffering from some altitude problems and decided to stay in camp. Greg Gerlach started two hours before the group (at 6am) since he had additional objectives of Hitchcock and Guyot - a very challenging 20-mile day! It was rather chilly on Hale so Al Conrad, Larry Hoak and the leader made a hasty retreat and managed to traverse over to Young from Hale in about an hour as the weather started to clear. We spent over an hour on top enjoying the views of the Kaweahs, Milestone basin peaks and the Whitney area in pleasant temperatures. We arrived back at camp at 2pm and finally got around to dinner at 6pm. We watched with apprehension as the storm clouds began to darken around us and we finished dinner just in time before the rain started. Greg finally arrived back at camp at 8:20pm in a driving rain (and with four peaks behind him).
The next morning was clear and mild as we left camp between 6:30 and 7am finally reaching the cars before 1 pm and an early arrival home.
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