Ascent of Mount Morgan on 2018-11-12

Climber: Rafee Memon

Others in Party:AJ Kaufmann -- Trip Report or GPS Track
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, November 12, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Morgan
    Elevation:12992 ft / 3959 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was the day that AJ, Daria, and I planned to make a late-season attempt of Mount Goddard. However, due to the Camp Fire in the north, the valleys on the west side of the crest appeared to be full of smoke in satellite images, and we decided that it wouldn't be wise to spend a twenty-hour day in those conditions. We decided to postpone the attempt to a more sane time next year, but since I had a few nights in Bishop, I was still anxious to climb something on the east side of the crest. I convinced AJ to hike Mount Stanford (N) and Mount Morgan (N) out of Rock Creek, one of my favorite places in the Sierra.

I got a leisurely 4:45am start from my motel in Bishop, where I had breakfast and tea, and made the easy drive up Rock Creek Road to the Hilton Lakes Trailhead. I arrived just after sunrise at 6:30am, where I found AJ napping in his car after driving down from South Lake Tahoe. The temperature was in the 20s, and we started with all of our layers. However, we were already overheating after a couple miles; AJ left his pair of sweatpants next to the trail, fairly confident that we would be the only ones on the trail that day.

We reached the frozen-over Hilton Lakes around 8:15am. By this point, the sun was shining brightly on the peaks above us, most notably on Mount Huntington. As we admired the views and took photos, we began hearing eerie sounds that were like some form of alien bird life. We soon realized that the sounds were coming from the lake as the ice thawed in the heat of the day. I imagine I would've run down the trail screaming back to my car had I heard them in the darkness of the night. We amused ourselves by throwing rocks onto the ice to make more strange noises before continuing cross-country towards Mount Stanford.

To gain the next ridge, we ascended a chute that looked like a miserable sand slope from below, but turned out to be an easy ramp. From there, we had our first proper view of Mount Stanford, still one ridge away. We walked under a tarn and climbed the ridge, briefly crossing to the gentle slopes on the other side before arriving at the summit at 10:45am. The views were impeccable: Morgan South, Humphreys, Bear Creek Spire, Dade, Abbot, Mills, Gabb, Hilgard, and Recess above Pioneer Basin; Red and White, Red Slate, Baldwin, Morrison above the McGee Creek area; and Ritter/Banner and a few South Lake Tahoe peaks in the far distance. I had my first water and snack of the day before we began the ridge traverse towards Morgan North.

Our traverse followed the top of the ridge mostly faithfully, although AJ climbed one intermediate peak that I opted to drop below. Staying on the ridge was a series of class 2-3 ups and downs, and very enjoyable with a few interesting knife-edge sections. We eventually reached a giant sandy plateau below Mount Morgan. It appeared that someone had been there recently and had drawn some kind of patterns in the sand, but we couldn't decipher what they had drawn. We hypothesized that it may have been campers, but it seemed unlikely with no water sources nearby; maybe snowmobilers? We made the final summit push and arrived at the top at 1:45pm, about two and a half hours after leaving the summit of Stanford. The views were great, but somewhat less so than from Stanford due to being partially obstructed by the ridge we just traversed.

We started down from the summit around 2:20pm in search of what Bob Burd called the finest sand slope in the Sierra. The descent started out on large and blocky talus but eventually gave way to easy scree and sand. Near the bottom, we hit a stretch of sand that could've been easily mistaken for a blue-square ski run on a powder day if it were white and I had a pair of skis. There was a bit of bushwhacking to be done once we reached the bottom and walked around Davis Lake towards the trail. Once on the trail, it was an easy file-mile walk out towards the car -- except for the final mile of ups and downs as we neared the trailhead. AJ asserted that it was worse than the 600-foot reascent when hiking down the Shepherd Pass trail, which, while this was certainly annoying, was a pretty dubious claim!

We reached our cars around 5:25pm, dark enough that we would've needed our headlamps had we continued any longer. We met up with Mihai for Mexican food in Bishop before retreating to the motel. I did a poor job of selling a morning hike of Dunderberg Peak on the way home with its notorious slogishness, but somehow AJ agreed to stick around. Despite being disappointed about Goddard, the trip was turning out to be enjoyable in the end.
Summary Total Data
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Traverse from Stanford
Descent Statistics
    Route:East Face
    End Trailhead:Hilton Lakes TH  
Ascent Part of Trip: Stanford/Morgan

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Mount Stanford2018-11-12 a 
2Mount Morgan2018-11-12 b 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rafee Memon
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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