Ascent of Kearsarge Peak on 2017-05-06

Climber: Sandy Lara

Date:Saturday, May 6, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Kearsarge Peak
    Elevation:12615 ft / 3845 m

Ascent Trip Report

This started out as a "simple" snow climb to Kearsarge Peak from Onion Valley. Snow conditions started out perfect with nice crunch of crampons and no breaking through. Peter decided to turn back when having an issue with an old injury. Phil, Jeff, and I continued. The initial plan was to go over Lilley Pass, but it didn't have snow all the way up so we opted for the snow-filled gully to the east that faced SW. Angle got to 45+ degrees per later analysis of Phil's GPS track. I led this section. Also had to climb over a snow berm at the top with angle 59 degrees for 6 feet of elevation. (This was more than I have ever done.) Once reaching the summit ridge, we followed it to the summit (scree and talus). Great views all around, weather starting to come in, cold and windy. Since our ascent route was so steep and the temps were dropping so the snow was not getting soft (for glissading), we decided to circumnavigate the peak and go down the trail that was to the east (left over from the mines). This ended up being a mistake. It took 8 hours to get from the peak to the road. We stayed at 11,800' and contoured intermittently on talus and snow fields, necessitating numerous shedding and donning of crampons. We finally got to the "trail" but it led us further around the peak, again across more intermittent talus and snowfields--the latter were steep and icy enough to require crampons. All our side-hilling was to the left (when facing up to the mountain), so my left foot was killing me (not to mention various other body parts that got terribly overused). We made it through the notch in a ridge and thought we were home free, but were terrible mistaken. There were several other talus and snow fields to cross (all to the left). We lost the trail under the snow and never found it again. We were fortunate to be able to text Peter to let him know we were okay--and could he please drive down from Onion Valley (9200') to the 8800' trailhead for the (stupid, non-existent) trail, which he did. We got down to the bottom of a snowfield near the road only to find thick brush to fight through in the dark with headlamps before being able to break out to the road. Left Onion Valley to climb Kearsarge Peak at 6:15am, exited 8800' trailhead at 8:50pm, quite tired. Peter drove all the way home. McDonald's in Lone Pine was already closed so we got artisan chicken sandwiches at the McDonald's in Mojave for a midnight snack. Home at 1:40am.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4500 ft / 1371 m
    Distance:6.8 mi / 10.9 km
    Start Trailhead:8115 ft / 2473 m
Descent Statistics

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