Ascent of Twin Peaks on 2014-08-10

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Daniel Musser
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, August 10, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Twin Peaks
    Elevation:13560 ft / 4133 m

Ascent Trip Report

A special day for me. Backpacking trip with Miguel Garcia, Hernan Lopez, Marc Holder, my son Daniel and I had taken some detours due to weather, injury, health issues, and a bear. Disappointed that our plans to summit 3 14ers in 3 days was disrupted by the health issues and a pesky black bear that ate half of our food, we acclimated night two at 8200 feet in a campground near Sand Dunes National Park and then left in the morning to do a day hike up in the upper Zapata Lake basin. The 4 mile hike gains around 2,500 feet and empties into a beautiful glacial carved cirque area on the west side of the Ellingwood Point range. We had already bagged Blanca 2 days before but the team was not in shape to go after Ellingwood from the west side as it would take another backpacking penetration to set a camp to leave from and that was out of the question.

We arrived as a group of 5 at the small but attractive South Zapata Lake. Bad weather was predicted to be coming in the early afternoon so we checked to see who wanted to stay and fish the lake and who wanted to climb one of the nearby peaks. Miguel's knee had enough abuse summitting Blanca and wanted to fish. Marc was still struggling with his energy level but the big surprise was my climbing buddy Hernan was struggling to breathe. Hernan has completed Aconcagua and at least 10 other peaks above 15k and has no trouble summitting 14ers with me so I was surprised that the "Colombian Sherpa" as we call him, declined to go with us. Later we found out he had a benign tumor in his chest that was pressing in on his lungs and making it hard for him to breathe. In any case, that left me and my son as the only two eager to keep climbing.

We predicted we could find a western route and climb the twin peak in 2 hours from South Zapata Lake. We found a line that we liked over to an upper ledge and next to the large hump shaped ridge adjacent to the lake. We stuck to class 2 rock and 2+ scampers till we got to the upper ledge where we had several gullies to chose from. We saw a large rock filled gully perfect for our helmet's within the hump to the east and we saw a grassy gully with a more direct southerly approach. Staying to the right of the grassy col we found some nice class 3 rock we climbed to give ourselves a break from the steep talus rock and I accidentally dislodged 3 rocks down toward my son and yelled "Rock!" The third rock was easily as large a truck tire and rolled right out under my legs and forced me to lunge up the ledge or go down with it. Daniel ducked around the corner of the rock formation and watched the three rocks bounce by. At that point, we made a quick decision to slide back into the grass and rock gully and avoid any more lose rock class 3.

Daniel was strong on the ascent and out-climbing me all week but his altitude sickness kicked in just before the final saddle between the two peaks. I passed him and hit the saddle first and was treated for the first time on the ascent to nice solid small fixed stone and made rapid progress toward the peak. Suddenly I sensed the presence of my son and the sound of size 13 feet clamoring behind me. I asked, "What are you doing?" My son said he was running to pass me and with 20 feet to go he tagged the summit before me. I looked at him and inquired what was that all about and he replied. "I know if I did not tag it before you I would never hear the end of it!" I laughed at my 18 year old and we noticed that we bagged it in 90 minutes since leaving the lake below (about 1,600 feet). We then sat on the peak and looked at the landscape around us and realized we had a great view of Blanca, Ellingwood, Lindsey, Little Bear, and California Peak all from this amazing viewpoint.

Best of all, there was not a soul on the mountain with us. We could not see a person anywhere or hear anyone. We just had the solitude of the mountain to ourselves and I realized that although it was not the 14er I had come to get, I got something far better. A couple of hours with my son alone in the wilderness pathfinding and peakbagging. A fine day! We ran over and tagged the south summit as well and climbed back down to join our friends.

When we got near South Zapata Lake lightning and thunder crackled all around us. We glad to be off the peak. We waited for our friends thinking they were still fishing in the small lake above us but after 45 minutes waiting and not seeing them, we realized they had left already because of the weather. Still wearing our climbing helmets we watched the water in the lake begin to explode like someone was shooting bullets at it then we heard the unmistakable sound of ice bouncing off of plastic and realized we were in a hail storm. Soon our climbing helmets became "hail"mets and we were glad as our unprotected hands were being stung by the pea to marble sized ice. We made it back down from the lake to the parking area in quick order (under 2 hours) and caught the others that had left about 2 hours before us. It was a special day with my son with the wilderness solitude, pathfinding, and weather.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Total Elevation Loss:360 ft / 109 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6 mi / 9.6 km
    Grade/Class:1, 2, 2+ and some 3
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
70F at base and cool at summit 55F
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4500 ft / 1371 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4260 ft / 1299 m; Extra: 240 ft / 73m
    Loss on way in:240 ft / 73 m
    Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route:South Zapata Trail to lake to open country route f
    Start Trailhead:Parking lot of So Zapata Falls  9300 ft / 2834 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:120 ft / 36 m
    Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    Route:Followed ridge to saddle between peaks
    End Trailhead:saddle between Twin Peaks  13440 ft / 4096 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Twin Peaks

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Twin Peaks2014-08-10 a4500 ft / 1372 m
2Twin Peaks South Peak2014-08-10 b334 ft / 102 m
Total Trip Gain: 4834 ft / 1474 m    Total Trip Loss: 4834 ft / 1474 m

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