Ascent to Lone Pine Peak-3/4 way up scree slope approx on 2013-08-17

Climber: Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach

Others in Party:Christine Soskins
Date:Saturday, August 17, 2013
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Lone Pine Peak - 3/4 way up scree slope approx
    Elevation:12000 ft / 3657 m
    Remaining Elevation:944 ft / 288 m (100% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

The goal was to have a GREAT hike before our Whitney hike on Sunday. Christine had suggested LPP, so we did some research and tried to find trip reports and GPS tracks. Very little information out there, but we pieced together the Meysian Lakes trail (beautiful - but early start is necessary because it's HOT in the sun on the way down), around Grass Lake and then up a steep chute of rock and talus to access the final ridge to the peak.

Started hiking from Meysan Lakes TH just near our campgrounds at approx 0530 and made good time. We had been warned that the trail was super sandy and rocky and NOT an easy one - and while it could certainly appear strenuous, it really wasn't that bad. Coming from the deserts of SoCal, maybe we're more used to sandy trails? Who knows - ?

We hit Grass Lake and left the main trail to Meysan Lakes, and x-countried it up to where Christine had an approximate GPS waypoint. We spent a good bit of time looking at the steep scree slope, and scouting the best angle of ascent. There appeared to be 3 long fingers of talus and rocks that looked promising for good footing. We choose the one on the far left, as it was - we should have taken the center one, where (on the way down) we found a very fain use trail of switchbacks. Very steep, so we took our time. The rocks overhead seemed okay, but the slope itself was VERY loose. We were careful in our route up and I choose a path that was not directly below from Christine. We also spread out to avoid rockfall on each other. Worked our way steadily for an hour or so up. Again - taking the left route, we encountered some class 3+ big rock scrambling and pulling-ourselves-up-and-over. This was avoided by a better route down. Slope still felt loose, but once we went over the Class 3 bits, the pitch did not seem nearly as bad, OR loose. We heard rockfall around 55 min into our climb up and looked around towards the WEST part of the bowl - there was a small rockslide that appeared for no reason. No one walking on the ridge above and we hopefully looked for bighorn sheep (none). Both of us were on the edge of our comfort zones, so we hung out for a few minutes to watch the rockslid (approx 200 meters away), and when the dust settled continued up. We noted that IF there was any more rockslides we would turn around - both of us agreed that the slope felt loose. Within 5 minutes we heard/saw our second, more sizeable rockslide (there had been nothing for the first hour) from approximately the same location 200 meters to our right (as we were going up). So we turned around and picked the middle chute to downclimb. MUCH better slope - although still slippery and very loose, it wasn't nearly as challenging as our route up. Within 50 minutes we were down at the base, dumping sand/rocks out of our shoes. We hard a crack and a sizeable boulder broke off from the top of the scree slope under the granite overhang just a few meters off from our descent route. We watched it bounce down the slope, taking more and more rocks with it and hastily retreated back to Grass Lake.

Quickly found the Meysan Lakes trail and decided to head back to camp. Approx 1.5 hours later (maybe 4 or 5 miles?) we stopped for a pit break and noticed a MASSIVE dust cloud from what we're assuming was a giant rockslide in the area where we were hiking. Def was a little disconcerting - but it was good to know that we made the right call to turn when the conditions didn't feel right. I think we could have gotten the peak, but it just wouldn't have been safe. We spent 10 minutes watching this dust cloud (amazing!) and hoping that no one else was foolish enough to be near the area. Hiked back down to our starting point Meysian Lakes TH and campground. Drove down to Lone Pine Ranger Station to report the rock slide and get the latest weather for Sunday's Whitney attempt....

Total stats were about 12 miles hiking, 4K feet of gain.
Summary Total Data
    Route:Meysan Lakes-Grass Lake-SE Chute of Peak
    Trailhead:Meysan Lakes TH  
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles

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