Getting to the base camp was a weary slog. Normal backpacking chores awaited the campers upon their arrival at Consultation Lake: the selection of a campsite and the setting-up of the tent amidst the above-timberline scenery. Very little soil was available for the tent pegs to find a purchase: some of the tent loops had to be wrapped around shards of granite.
Then, the eagerly anticipated freeze-dried spaghetti meal. Alas, the altitude (11,590 feet) had taken its toll—no one could eat more than a token amount of the spaghetti-substance meal. Luckily, in 1977 there was a convenient outhouse placed for the benefit of hikers. Mike carried the pot over . . . (here, we will draw a merciful veil over further description of spaghetti-substance disposition. Interestingly enough, there are currently no outhouses in the vicinity. Campers are now required to pack everything out. Everything, if you know what I mean, and I think you know what I mean.)
Windy during the night: classic high-altitude scene of flapping tent sides with intermittent clambering out to check the tent tie-downs. Neat. In retrospect.
Early the next morning came the push to the top on the at times frozen-over trail. Vistas opened up amidst the zigzagging switchbacks; the broad plateau summit of Mt. Whitney was finally reached (at that time, blessedly free of cell phones.) Mike’s Nikon F was pressed into service on a time delay as the intrepid climbers, clad in high altitude jackets warding off the chill mountain air, assembled for an "I was there" photo. In the background, the impressive peaks of the Great Western Divide.
The return events have mostly been lost to memory. Once back at camp we loaded up our backpacks, then had to endure the knee-banging trip back to the car. On our hike back down the trail we looked for the icicles, but of course by then they had all melted.
In October, 1977 Mike, Joe (his brother) and Joe (his brother-in-law) climbed Mt. Whitney. (Actually, the route they took, strictly speaking, is not a "climb" but rather a strenuous hike. But "climb" sounds better.)
So, there was the possibility that the weather could be very cold: down jackets, parkas, the Sierra Designs tent and such-like were stowed in the backpacks. A large freeze-dried spaghetti meal was purchased. All was in readiness, and then the escape from Los Angeles: the miles leading to BLM’s Tuttle Creek campground just outside of Lone Pine zipped by.
Next morning: the road heading up to the trailhead at Whitney Portal, when the innocent question was asked:
"I wonder if the dinner will fit into the pot you brought."
And then the immediate response:
"Whuddya mean, the pot I brought. You were the one bringing the pot!"
"Hell no! You were bringing the pot!"
After many amusing back-and-forths, it finally turned out that, of course, no one had brought a pot for cooking the wonderful pasta dish. So: U-turn, back to Lone Pine for the purchase of a pot.
The first day’s hike featured a great icicle find by Brother Joe with pix by Mike.
We never call it the Bob Hope Airport. We call it Burbank, as in "We're flying into Burbank." Nice little airport: you can walk to the car rental agencies and, the best part, disembark onto the tarmac.
Found in Oakland, near the City Center/Preservation Park area. I met Mary and Jamie for lunch at Cafe Rio, which Jamie claimed was a Secret Spot, but both the statues and the restaurant are referenced in this article.
Early the next day we set off on the interminable switchbacks leading towards Bishop Pass. Once we reached the pass we turned left towards the mountain picking our way through the surrounding rocks and boulders. There are any number of chutes leading towards the summit—we picked one at random. Carefully studying the placement of hands and feet we finally reached the top.
Once back at our camp, hot and tired, Joe contemplated the small creek near our campsite, then plunged his face into the icy water as was his wont.
Photo: Joe on Mt. Agassiz—Sierra Nevada, 1974; Joe on all Fours—Sierra Nevada, 1974; Joe Face in Water—Sierra Nevada, 1974
After our arrival at camp there was still plenty of daylight left. Joe scanned the topo map and conceived of a plan to climb Mt. Goode (13,085 elevation) that afternoon, which plan he immediately put into practice.
Alas, both his energy level and climbing skills were far higher than mine: I watched from afar as his minute figure reached the summit and studied the view down the canyon created by Bishop Creek.
Photos: Mt. Goode—Sierra Nevada, 1974; Joe on Mt. Goode—Sierra Nevada, 1974
I first climbed Mt. Agassiz (13,899 elevation) with a Sierra Club outing in 1974.
It took hardly any effort to convince Joe Mundy that we should plan a joint expedition to the top later that year. As we donned our backpacks and started hiking towards Bishop Pass the looming bulk of Mt. Agassiz gradually came into view; we established a base camp just below the final switchbacks heading up to the pass.