In May 1978, I joined Mary, my brother Jay, and climbing buddy Don McEachern on a climbing trip in the Sierra. We climbed Mts LeConte and Mallory, two tall peaks on the Sierra Crest southeast of Mt Whitney. Here is our itinerary.
Day 1 (Saturday, May 27): Pack 5 miles up the Meysan Lakes Trail from Whitney Portal Campground to Grass Lake, which is covered by snow. Day 2 (Sunday, May 28): Climb both Mt LeConte, at 13,960 ft, and Mt Mallory, at 13,850 ft, in a single day! Day 3 (Monday, May 29): Pack out.
I scanned my slides in early 2022 and prepared the following blog.
Day 1: Saturday, May 27. Here is our young team of Mary, me, Don, and Jay at the Meysan Lakes trailhead. The elevation is 7,900 ft. Mary poses in her stylish outfit. We start packing up the trail. It is about five miles to camp. Eventually the trail becomes covered in snow. Whitney Portal Road is visible in the distance. This is the view as we near our camp. Mt LeConte is the peak to the left of the snow-covered plateau, and Mt Mallory is the peak to the right of the plateau. Our campsite is on a rock bench above frozen Grass Lake, at 10,900 ft. Two day hikers check an opening in the snow above the lake. Mary soaks up some rays at camp. Because of the short pack in, we have plenty of time to rest before our climbs the next day. I do a reconnaissance hike in the afternoon to get a better view of Mt LeConte, which is in the center. Our route goes up the snow chute and slope to the right of the three parallel rock ribs and then around the right ridge of Mt LeConte to follow the northwest chute to the summit.
Day 2: Sunday, May 28. We get an early start and plan our route, which is mostly on snow. Our stylish team with ice axes and crampons approaches the bottom of the snow chute that leads to the summit plateau. Jay takes a break on some rocks and puts on a jacket as the temperature drops. The route steepens. After we reach the snow-covered plateau, we go a short way down the other side to enter this northwest chute, which leads to the summit. Climbing the chute is Class 3 except for 15 feet of Class 4 known as the Waterfall Pitch, shown here. Jay, Don, and I free climb it up and down, but Mary gets a rope belay both ways. Mary puts down her ice ax as she nears the summit. Mary stands on the summit of Mt LeConte, at 13,960 ft! I make it to the top too! So does Jay as well as Don, who takes this picture. Mary signs the register. We make the first climb of the year! Mt Langley is the massive peak to the south. Mt Corcoran is the nearby peak in between. Mts Whitney, Russell, and Williamson are the prominent peaks to the north from left to right. Mt Mallory is at the end of the plateau below the snowfield on top of Mt Whitney. I get grudging agreement when I say that we should go over and bag Mt Mallory too, since we are so close. There are smiles of relief and a great view after we summit Mt Mallory, at 13,850 ft!
Day 3: Monday, May 29. Mary packs out.