Mount Eisen, Lippincott Mountain, Sawtooth Peak (N)
By: Tina Bowman
When Doug Mantle and I led Pettit, Piute, and Volunteer several years ago, we had no participants. I was wondering whether it was the peaks or the leaders, and I still don’t really know. This time we had one participant, Jon Skaglund, and almost another, David Coplen. He had worked very late, driven the rest of the night, and valiantly met us at 5:00 a.m. (Yes, really, that was our planned starting time). Lack of sleep, however, took its toll, and David decided to get some sleep and explore the Mineral King area on his own and join us another time.
Though planned for four days, it ended up being a successful three-day outing. Thursday we left Mineral King, car hoods open and a nest of chicken wire under my engine to avoid marmot damage, and made our way up to Glacier Pass. The most snow of the whole trip awaited us on the north side of the pass, but it was easily negotiated. Down we went, to Spring Lake then up we toiled to Black Rock Pass. Well, Jon and I toiled; Doug seemed to float up there. How else to explain how he got fifteen minutes ahead? After lunch at the pass, Doug and I started the traverse for Eisen while Jon headed down to a campsite Doug pointed out from the pass at Little Five Lakes. Unlike the leaders, Jon wasn’t driven by a “need” to climb Eisen. We were very puzzled by this.
As Doug told me, the traverse to Eisen goes really well at first, but it suckers you in. The farther you go, the slower the going. We weren’t helped by getting into a spot of more difficult climbing on the ridge, which we avoided on the way down. My “2x” looked pathetic besides his “6x” in the register. We were back to the pass in about four hours round trip and down to camp just over half an hour later, getting there before 6:00, on a day of 6650’ gain per my Avocet, 5100’ of it with full backpacks. Not too sleazy for my first Sierra outing of the season. No wonder Jon showed sanity in passing on the Eisen option.
Friday we headed down the trail toward Big Arroyo, turning off to follow the drainage to Lippincott. Again we made some interesting moves, this time near the summit on the southeast face. Again we avoided the area by descending the south ridge on our return. This day featured only 3480’ gain. We were back in time to rinse off in a small stream, read, and relax. Here we were with the whole Little Five Lakes drainage to ourselves until two backpackers came and camped practically on top of us. Go figure.
Saturday we were on our way at 6:10, retracing our steps to Glacier Pass. We left packs near a convenient boulder off the Sawtooth Pass Trail and sauntered off to Sawtooth, Back at the packs, Jon decided he’d rather take the Sawtooth Pass Trail back to the cars, so he signed out. Soon after we parted ways we had a little rain, enough to get out the rain jackets, which then guaranteed it would stop within five minutes. Doug and I went down to Groundhog Meadow, picking up the official trail again and got back to the cars at 4:00 after 4480’ gain.
How many participants will we have next time?
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