California Thirteeners List
Vulgarian Ramblers
Summer 2006 Tour

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Mike Bromberg (aka Foo’ball) recovered from last year’s motorcycle injuries sufficiently to participate in all segments of this year’s tour. Before hooking up with us in California, he bagged 13,667' Mt. White and 13,705' Colony Baldy in Colorado.

Palisades (2006-07-08 through 2006-07-13)

Dan Blodgett, Foo’ball, Leslie Stenger, Jim Wahl, Maria-Louisa Izamis and I hiked in on the Bishop Pass trail from South Lake, and spent a stormy night at Bishop Pass. The next day, Dan, Jim & Maria-Louisa decided to get an early start and make an attempt on North Palisade, while Leslie, Foo’ball and I took a more lesiurely stroll through Dusy Basin. After lunch, Leslie headed back alone, and Foo’ball & I continued over Thunderbolt Pass, across Palisade Basin, and on to Potluck Pass, where we met up with the rest of the group. The latter had the good sense to retreat and avoid surfing storm motivated rockfall in the steep couloirs. That first evening in our Potluck Pass campsite was truly magical providing sunset view after glorious sunset view.

Unfortunately, after crossing miles of sun cups and endless ridges, Dan decided to stand up in camp and thereby destroy his knee. This put him out of action for Monday’s climb, which was a shame. The rest of us continued up and over the Polemonium glacier on our way to the summit of 13,962' SE Polemonium (UTM662058), where Foo’ball celebrated finishing the 100 Highest Mountains of the Contiguous United States. The best available data (a few altimeter measurements before and after the climb) somewhat less than conclusively show that this peak rises some 302' above the saddle connecting it with Polemonium and North Palisade, which resulted in its addition to the official California Thirteeners list. Afterward, we all continued around past Polemonium and a wonderful throne-in-the air to 14,153' Mt. Sill.

The next day Dan got an early start and defied all odds to reach Bishop Pass under his own power. Jim and Maria-Louisa continued on out to inform his loved ones that he was OK and to arrange for equestrian support. Foo’ball and I joined Dan for a much more enjoyable afternoon and evening in the pass, then rose the next day to a beautiful dawn moon for the hike out. On the way down, I climbed 13,265' Aperture Peak via Junction Pass, but when I reached the summit, I was faced with an imposing monolith, which I free soloed before I had a chance to chicken out (or notice that it wasn’t the high point). Aperture did have an incredible view of the range, though (even better than Mt. Agassiz?) While I was enjoying this view, Cowboy Dan was riding off into the sunset...

- Chris Schneider

Kaweahs (2006-07-14 through 2006-07-20)

Dave White, Foo’ball and I hiked in from the Mineral King trailhead and over Sawtooth Pass to Columbine Lake on the first day. Although we had numerous reports of how loose and indistinct the trail was, we had no trouble whatsoever, though our late start forced Dave to construct our marguaritas via head lamp. The next day we hiked past ten lakes arranged homogenously by surface area into two equal-sized groups. As the day wore on, the mosquitoes became more and more dense, eventually reaching something like one bug per cubic centimeter at our Big Arroyo campsite.

We rose early and headed up the High Sierra Trail, then turned north to tackle our main objective, 13,802' Mt. Kaweah. Dave reached the summit first, but the storm brewing to the northeast spooked him, so he scribbled a quick note to us in the register and then retreated back down to the trail. Once we arrived on top, I helped Foo’ball struggle for words to express his emotions as he finished the 13,800’ers of the Contiguous United States atop “yet another miserable pile of rocks, hundreds of miles from anything remotely interesting”. We continued down the ridge but the approaching electrical storm forced me into a “lightning fast” solo ascent of 13,661' “Second (or Grey) Kaweah” (after first traversing a long, knife-edge ridge to climb the wrong peak - a worrisome trend?) Thankfully, the storm didn’t come all the way over the Kaweahs to spoil the nearly continuous sunset views from the trail on our way back to camp (Foo’ball’s summit expletives notwithstanding).

We finally escaped our miserable Bug Arroyo campsite the next morning and struggled to find our way up the proper drainage toward the lake tucked below the Black and Red Kaweahs. Unfortunately, the weather moved in again, forcing us to huddle for hours under the tent fly, draped against a large boulder. We eventually seized an interlude to hastily excavate a VE-25 tent platform, but the storm continued off and on late into the evening and returned early in the morning, dashing my hopes for bagging 13,720' Red Kaweah.

The hike out the next day to our Big Five Lakes campsite was fairly uneventful, and the intermittent rain allowed us to ration our waning bug juice supply. The trail offered lovely views of the Kaweahs and other peaks for most of this day and the next one, and the weather cooperated for the most part. In fact, the sky put on quite a show once we returned to our Columbine Lake campsite, and we rose to another one before our hike over Sawtooth Pass and back down to the cars.

- Chris Schneider

Colorado (2006-07-22 through 2006-07-25)

I headed back to Colorado and met Alan Taylor ’83 for a climb of 13,738' Sayres Benchmark near Independence Pass in perfect conditions. We also bagged what we thought was a second summit, but it turns out there’s yet another summit north of that one that actually counts as a Thirteener, so I have an excuse to head back up that way some other time.

Now on my own, I headed back to Winfield for a second try at UN13616, and made it this time. It’s actually now called Mt. Blaurock. I headed back to Vail for another try at Mt. Powell, got closer to the summit than before, but took the “trail” up too high to the wrong saddle this time. I’ve decided to save Powell for my last Colorado Bicentennial peak, since it’s gorgeous and little-climbed, has a reasonable access trail, and has a fine campsite just below the verdant treeline meadow.

- Mike Bromberg