This trip was done sometime between 1984 (when Alexander was born) and 1990 (when Paul was born), most likely in 1989. Alexander was old enough (5 years old) to hike by himself with a light pack (people we met on the trail were amazed). Three of us went. My wife Ingrid, my young son Alexander, and myself.
We start at the South Lake trailhead, and begin the hike in. Long Lake is pretty, but there are a lot of people camped here. We continue on past Timberline Tarns and Saddlerock Lake, camping somewhere just south of Saddlerock Lake at 11,200 feet. Beautiful views of granite and water.
This day it is up right at dawn, with the goal of climbing Mount Winchell via the East Arete. This route was recommended by Dave Baker, and the recommendation turns out to be a fine one. Ingrid and Paul stay at camp. (Actually, Ingrid climbed Columbine Peak (12662) via the class 2 route from Knapsack Pass while I was climbing Winchell).
I head back on the trail to Bishop Pass, then cross country to Jigsaw Pass, around the north side of Aperture Peak, across talus to the pass between Mount Agassiz and Mount Robinson and then to the base of the east arete of Mount Winchell. The route is pleasant third class climbing on clean rock. The route is the frosting on the cake, the hard work is the approach and talus. Mt. Winchell has a nice summit (13775), then it is back down the route and back to camp the way I came. This is my first really high quality sierra peak.
I carefully watch for the 3 white cliffs and the two chutes, and select with some uncertainty what I believe to be the rightmost chute. I head up the left branch and find the traversing ledge. There is some exciting exposure. I follow around to the third chute. There is ice filling the chute in a chimney like area, which gives me some concern (the ice that is), particularly with a view to the descent. There is a sling frozen into the ice, which can provide somewhat of a self belay. In any event, this obstacle is quickly passed and I find myself popping almost to quickly over a knife edge with a significant drop on the other side. Clouds have begun to build and there is a rumble of thunder. Lightning is the last thing I want to have to deal with, and I ponder whether I should head down, but it is only a few hundred feet to the summit. I press on, alert for any signs of electrical activity, and do not linger long at all on the summit, spectacular though the view is. The Palisade Glacier is a huge thing spread out below. A big route on a big mountain.
The descent is straightforward, and I get completely off the route and onto the talus before the rain starts. I retrace my route back to camp and find Ingrid and Alexander doing their best to deal with the downpour. They are in the floorless "megamid" and are inside pulling the sleeping bags up and away from water running in from the sides.
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