Mary, Gordon, and I climbed Mt Gayley in June 2008. Here is what we did each day.
Day 1 (Saturday June 21): Backpack 8 miles up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek from the trailhead at 7,700 ft to Sam Mack Meadow at 11,000 ft where we camp. Day 2 (Sunday, June 22): Climb Mt Gayley at 13,510 ft in 13 hours roundtrip from camp. Day 3 (Monday, June 23): Backpack out.
Photos and commentary follow.
Day 1: Saturday, June 21. Here is our team of me, Gordon, and Mary at the trailhead. Norman Clyde Peak dominates the view to the south above the South Fork of Big Pine Creek. We go right up the North Fork. Mary stops to get water at Second Falls Wildflowers and a butterfly provide some color. We take a break above First Lake. Temple Crag towers above Second Lake. A hailstorm provides some excitement. Before long the trail is covered in hailstones! Eventually we arrive at Sam Mack Meadow, where we camp. I first camped here with my four siblings in 1971! Gordon gets comfortable under his mini tent, which provides protection against mosquitos. This is the view from inside.
Day 2: Sunday, June 22. We follow a trail to the base of Mt Gayley, which is above my head with Mt Sill to the right. The trail ends near here with Mt Sill on the left and North Palisade on the right. We cross the left (east) side of Palisade Glacier and go up a steep snow slope to Glacier Notch behind the dark rock wall. Mary and I use ice axes and crampons to climb the snow slope. Gordon moves from the snow to the rock just below Glacier Notch. I cross the snowfield between Glacier Notch and Mt Gayley. Our route goes directly up the red colored rock in the middle, which is called the Yellow Brick Road 🙂 Mary and Gordon are just below the summit. Glacier Notch is at the upper left. We all make it to the top! North Palisade is above my head, and Thunderbolt Peak is above Mary’s head. Middle Palisade, Norman Clyde Peak, and Palisade Crest are to the east. Mts Winchell and Agassiz are to the west. Mary glissades down the snow on the way back to camp. Blocks of ice break off the toe of the glacier and fall onto the surface of a frozen lake.
Day 3: Monday, June 23. Gordon celebrates a successful climb with Mt Gayley above and Third Lake below!