Man Servants and Death Valley Snow

Originally posted on the WPSMB on 3-2-09

Imagine if you will… you’re travelling through another dimension. A dimension not of sight and sound but of mind. A dimension where a gentle rap on my window around 0700 and the words “would you like breakfast in bed?” rousts me out of sound slumber. Len’s voice outside: “Here’s breakfast, and coffee is on the way.” A dimension where I only shoot in black and white. Or the night before, as I SAT in my chair, WATCHING the carne asada being grilled over the open fire BY OTHER PEOPLE, cold brew in my chilled pewter mug. But for some reason, going uphill is still hard… Hmmmm…

Richard, the most non-desert of all Sierra snobs, had suggested that we head for Wildrose this weekend with Len and Bill. As I was starting to get geared up for a snow camp of some sort, I was shocked to hear that we were heading east instead. So I cruised out Friday afternoon, reaching the CG around 1930 as I watched the slim crescent moon dance alongside Venus down the horizon. The full complement of starry heavens twinkled down on me as I sat waiting for the others to arrive, guitar notes and quiet singing wafting on the evening breeze from another site.

The next morning, we were joined by Tom (tomcat_rc), Lisa, and Jim (Sierragator), who arrived just in time for Len’s mighty breakfast burritos. After leaving cars at the mouth of Nemo Canyon, we drove up to the Charcoal Kilns and hit the trail for Wildrose. The bits of snow posed little issue, well boot-tracked and not particularly icy in the warm morning. The trail winds up to the first saddle, then follows the ridge north and west to the summit, outstanding views into Fall Canyon and Death Valley spreading far beneath us. We continued north, following the dips and rises in the ridge to Peak 8675 (aka: TURGID PEAK), trying to stay on dry rock instead of trudging through drifts of semi-hard snow.

The ridge plunged to Bald Peak, each of us postholing to knees or higher, Tom bearing the brunt of the cold since he ahd decided to wear shorts that day. He had said something earlier in the week about heading to the desert since he had spent the last month in snow… But none of us really were prepared to sink in: summer pants and low gaiters all around, light boots and sneakers the footwear of the day. At one point, Len leapt down the mountain, arms waving wildly: “I’m glissading! I’m glissading!” From Bald, it was a straight shot west to the waiting cars, and back to the CG for quality brew and attempting to light my Christmas tree on fire (miserable failure, that.). Richard had some fun cleaning up the dead soldiers from that night…

I was, shall we say, slow to get going the next morning, hence the breakfast in bed scenario. But the guys had wanted to walk up the road from the Kilns towards Rogers and Bennett, deciding later if we were to go for Telescope. Our 0800 start time pretty much nullified the final option, and there was just enought snow on the road to make life annoying on the trudge up to Mahogany Flat. Len found some pretty deep snow at the CG, though… Yeah, just kidding .

Up the jeep road we wandered, traversing drifts and holding onto hats as the wind started to puff and play, a harbinger for later. We jumped on the ridge (well, Len jumped. I walked) above the final switcher, following the occasional use trail towards the summit of Rogers Peak. Len and Richard pulled far ahead as I battled the mild hangover and pushed on, crossing drifted snow that varied from firm and solid purchase to crust and sugar. At last on the ridge, I was greeted with a howl and punch that forced me to step back and regain balance. Managing to snap a few pics of Telescope and the ridge, I leaned into the gale and walked up towards the singing radio towers ahead. Len and Richard had kicked open the door to one of the buildings, which afforded us respite for a few minutes, signed the register (which is now in that building, btw: it was getting wet outside), and headed back down the ridge.

A little firmer snow (and having axes) and we would have had some miraculous glissades down the face to the road. (I know Tom has told me stories of some particularly fun glissades along here.) But instead we plunge-stepped down the steep slopes to save some time, each of us finding some deep snow to play in. Walking the road became tedious, each of stepping out of the boot and snowshoe track because it was easier to break new trail. We were back at the kilns by 1300, and happy to know we’d be getting home at a decent hour…

I still can’t get over breakfast in bed. Careful, guys. I could get used to this… A bit surprising that no one has offered before this…

A few pics from the weekend:

Our ONE wildflower:

Wildrose to Bald Traverse photos are here.

Rogers Peak photos are here .

From the luckiest girl in the world: Climb Hard, Be Safe.



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