Some goofy middle fork peak, try #3 -- success!

Yana and I parked near the big bridge over the Middle Fork and headed up a trail that starts a hundred feet south of the bridge. The trail meets the Granite Creek Road-Trail where the road crosses the north ridge of Mailbox Peak. From there we followed the road to the cabin on point 5124, then we followed the NW ridge to the 4440'+ pass between point 5124 and 4642. (There is a road that goes directly to this pass, but it is very brushy and hard to follow.)

From the pass we followed a logging road into the Gifford Lakes valley. At the second switchback (the road's northern-most point at around 4000') we left the road and traversed north toward Little Comrade. While traversing we stayed as high as we could without getting into the rock. After skirting above a dense forest of vine maple on the SE side of Little Comrade, we started gaining elevation, scrambling up two steep sections of 3rd class gully/meadow. Soon we dropped 15 feet into a gully (Carla and I tried climbing this gully in 2007) and continued traversing. After some nasty brush, we passed a gully mostly hidden by trees, then 30 feet later arrived at a gully that started with a mossy, smooth, slabby dihedral (I scoped out this gully with Lindsay in 2008). This was at about 3,700' on the NE side of the peak above a cliff band.

We soon gave up on the dihedral gully and went back to climb the hidden gully. After 4000'+ of gain and six hours we were finally climbing the peak itself! We climbed the steep duff gully with lots of help from huckleberry bushes and our ice axes, this would be the pattern for the next few hours.

At the top of the gully we roped up and climbed rest of the route with a mixture of belays and simul. I've made roped ascents of rock and glacier routes, but never of a duff route. Weird.

We made a rising westward traverse along steep slopes that alternated from brush to bare duff with constant exposure to cliffs below. Eventually we traversed to a wide gully, it was the first one that drained into the Middle Fork instead of the Gifford Lakes. At this point we headed left up the gully to a small col, from the col we traversed left, then there were only a few difficult duff moves (the first place I ever used a three-finger moss pocket for a hold) until we were on a friendly, moderate slope that soon led to the summit.

There was no indication a previous ascent at the top. I commented, "This is probably a first ascent." To which Yana replied, "And probably the last ascent". I dubbed the peak "Little Comrade" and placed a summit register. Yana teased me for optimistically putting four pages in the register, "Do you really think it needs that many?"

I'll never climb it again, but I'm very happy to have finally succeeded on this summit!



Copyright © 2009 Gabriel Deal.