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Vulgarian Ramblers
Summer 2005 Tour

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Mike Bromberg (aka Foo’ball) was unable to come west to attempt Mt. Kaweah or “SE Polemonium” (UTM662058) as planned. He was apparently very tired after a long Gilbert & Sullivan dress rehearsal and decided to crash - unfortunately, he was riding his motorcycle at the time. Luckily, he survived with a broken clavicle, a broken big toe, and a partially collapsed lung, but his recovery regimen precluded any high altitude excursions for the summer.

Without our fearless leader, the Vulgarians splintered into various factions, each attempting a different set of objectives. A few trip report summaries follow:

Russell/Whitney (2005-07-07 through 2005-07-09)

Just a report back on the recent “SE Polemonium Trip”. In spite of broad-spectrum punting for a variety of reasons, Dan Blodgett, Randuuu Schweickart and myself actually did go hiking in the Sierra this weekend. No, we didn’t go to SE Polemonium, nor did we even go up Bishop Pass via the South Lake trailhead. Instead, on Thursday morning when we got the Bishop Ranger Station to collect our permits, we were told we could get permits for the N. Lone Pine Creek trail so we snagged them.

Left Whitney Portal at the semi-Vulgarian time of 11:30am with only ice-axes (’poons, harnesses and helmets abandoned in favor of traveling lighter). Tromped our way to Iceberg Lake with little excitement, and not much water on the trail. Randu and I did insist on a minor willow detour between the Boy Scout Lakes. Had a beautiful snow-free campsite just below the base of Whitney with only two other hiking pairs there. Lake was definitely an Iceberg!

Friday left about 8am and had an easy 2-hr hike to the top of Russell up the right S Face. Only snow was in Iceberg Bowl. Weather was sunny and calm, and spent 2 hrs on top basking and celebrating my completion
of the CA 14ers. Back in camp by 2pm, well in front of the short hail storm.

Saturday were on the trail 7:15am up the Whitney Mountaineers' route. Snow conditions in the couloir were ideal, giving just enough to make step kicking very low effort. Summitted in 2.5 hrs. Another beautiful cloud-free, wind-free sunny CA mountain day. Back in camp by 11:30am and off the mountain by 5pm. Rowdy celebratory dinner at Whiskey Creek in Bishop.

- Jeff Muss

Sabrina/Evolution Romp (2005-07-20 through 2005-07-24)

Kirsten Uttam, Dave White, Wes Brinsfield, Mark Sheffield, Ken Krugler and I hiked in from Lake Sabrina to Moonlight Lake, where we were deluged by hordes of hungry insects. Not even Wes’s Tres Generaciones Añejo tequila could assuage them, so on Thursday we moved camp up to the cirque between Mt. Wallace and Mt. Haeckel. We snuck in a bag of 13,418' Haeckel between thunderstorms that evening (via the class 3 S ridge), then moved camp over the Haeckel/Wallace saddle the next morning (bagging 13,377' Mt. Wallace in the process via the class 2 N slope). The rest of the group went to find a new campsite at Lake 12,021' and explore the basins below. I enjoyed a solo bag of 13,503' Mt. Fiske via the class 3 NE ridge, followed by a seven minute, 900' glissade-from-heaven. After reconvening at our new camp, we all enjoyed a spirited game of disc, with Wes displaying truly spectacular layouts, embedding himself with each in the crusty sun cups, but always emerging somehow with the disc. On Saturday morning, I soloed the class 3 NW ridge of 13,086' Mt. Huxley, where I found both (a) creationist drivel, and (b) bile-filled responses from the scientifically literate portion of the climbing community. After that enjoyable reading experience, I proceeded to nearly kill myself forcing the class 3 (NOT! try completely exposed class 4) traverse to meet up with Mark and Ken atop 13,206' Mt. Warlow. Stepping off the summit, I accidently kicked Ken’s shoe off the E face. Thankfully, Mark was just able to retrieve it from a tiny ledge using his ice axe. Back in camp, everyone enjoyed yet another wonderful sunset. The long hike back to Lake Sabrina on Sunday went well until Kirsten, Dave and Mark executed a “high 5, trip, fall & bear cannister head bonk” in their best 3 stooges fashion right at the trailhead - to the surprise and amusement of several other hikers.

- Chris Schneider

N Ridge of Mt. Conness (2005-08-15 through 2005-08-17)

Laurel Phillips, Michael Phillips and I eventually hooked up with Doug Virtue and Kathy Day when Doug & Kathy finally realized that the rest of us might not have any idea where the correct trailhead was. Thankfully, it was raining hard by this point, so we all decided to bail to the El Mono Motel in Lee Vining (an excellent establishment I highly recommend to all Sierra climbers!) Doug introduced us to the legendary Kevin Starr, who invited us back to his trailer for jazz, dessert and conversation. On Tuesday morning, Doug and I climbed the spectacular N. Ridge of Mt. Conness (5.6, II), reaching the summit just as the full force of the lightning and hail storm broke upon us. Crossing the high plateau was positively (actually negatively) electrifying, and on the way down we witnessed a major strike on a peak several hundred feet below us. We eventually made it down to our companions, who had enjoyed(?) the fireworks from a day hike to North Peak and back. On Wednesday, we all day hiked in to Bubb Lake, abandoning our original plan to climb the Eichorn Pinnacle (on Cathedral Peak), since the clouds appeared to be building again. As it turned out, there was no theatrical weather, but nobody seemed to mind hanging out in that environment much.

- Chris Schneider