On Friday, 8/6, we continued north to Lee Vining, grabbed an awesome breakfast and crossed Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park.  We drove across the park to the west end, and then went into the valley that ends in Yosemite Village.  Driving down the valley, El Capitan passed on our left, Sentinel Rock on our right, and Half Dome straight ahead.  Someday we’d like to explore more of Yosemite, but today we were just tourists.  We backtracked east through Yosemite, and drove towards the Nevada border, where Boundary Peak was waiting for us. 

When you first turn the corner into Yosemite Valley, you are greeted with a beautiful shot of El Capitan and Half Dome facing each other.

Above: Half Dome.  Below: the immortal El Capitan

Boundary Peak is the whitish peak Just right of center.  Yes, the next peak over (Montgomery Peak) is taller, but it is in California

Highpoint: Boundary Peak
State: Nevada
Height: 13143 ft.
Highpoint #: 39 (JO), 38 (BC)
Date: 8/7/2004
Trails: JO’s Trail, or as BC called it “The Ninth-Circle-of-Hell Trail”
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip
Vertical Gain: 4500 ft.
Time Taken: 11 hours
Weather: Nice and cool before dawn, sunny and hot after dawn, 80’s
Group: JO and BC
Comments:  A few words of caution for anyone climbing Boundary Peak:  First, when driving up to the trailhead, if you care about the appearance of your car, be very careful about letting the sagebrush on both sides of the road touch your car.  It may look harmless, but it will give your car pinstripes whether you want it or not.  Secondly, get an early start.  This hike sounds innocent enough on paper, but that is the longest 8 miles we have ever seen.  Third, trail-blaze at your own risk.  We decided to make our own trail a few times, with mixed results.  Fourth, clip your toenails, wear thick socks and long pants, and find a way to seal off the top of your boots.  Okay, with all of that said, on to our report.

After several instances of BC getting out of the car and holding back the sagebrush as JO drove his car by, we finally made it to the Boundary Peak trailhead at about 5 pm on Friday night.  We met a very nice Indian couple that had just come from King’s Peak in Utah.  We talked highpoints with them for a short while, and then we went to sleep around 8:00, as it was going to be an EARLY night.  As JO had already done Boundary Peak, he knew how long it was, and he also had an idea for a new trail.  Basically, Boundary Peak has three ridges: southwest to Montgomery Peak, an east ridge and a north ridge.  The standard route up boundary (route “B” in the Winger book) involves climbing up the north ridge and then following it south towards the summit.  JO had an idea that maybe we should hike up to the east ridge instead.  BC was jiggy with this plan, so at midnight BC and JO woke up, packed up, and we were on the trail at 1 a.m. 

The first part of the hike is to make your way up Trail Canyon, trying to find a route through the very thick sagebrush.  It’s hard to imagine how painful this portion of the hike might be if one were wearing shorts.  As you make your way up the valley, you encounter a fork in the valley, the standard route goes right, which ends at Trail Canyon saddle on the north ridge of Boundary.  We went left, into a large bowl at the intersection of the north and east ridges.  The second portion of the hike was to ascend this bowl.  A popular alternative to the main trail (route “A” in the Winger book) ascends the right (north) side of this bowl, but we ascended the left side instead, up onto the east ridge   This bowl was incredibly steep, and consisted of sand and scree.  Each step up, you slide back down 3/4 of the step, so it was very slow going.  This portion of the hike seemed to take forever, and progress was almost impossible to judge, as there were absolutely no landmarks.  Around 3/4 of the way up the bowl, BC dubbed this route “The Ninth-Circle-of-Hell Trail”, because of the appearance of absolute stasis and timelessness while climbing this bowl.  It was already past dawn when we got to the top of the ridge, which meant it had already taken us almost 5 hours, and we still had over 1000 feet more to ascend.  The third portion of the hike was a scramble up the summit ridge, gaining 1100 feet in about 1/2 mile.  We reached the summit at about 8:00 a.m.  We were exhausted.  And we still had to get down this thing.  We decided to descend via the common “B” route described above.  On our way down from the summit, we ended up going off trail to avoid some rockslides, and ended up traversing across the northwest face of Boundary toward the north ridge.  We took the same, sliding/skiing strategy to descending into the giant bowl towards Trail Canyon.  The difference this time is that instead of just scree and rocks, Boundary is primarily made of sand, which loves to find new and interesting ways into your boots.  We made it back to the car before 1 p.m.  We were both beaten and exhausted, but since this was out in the middle of nowhere, it was a long drive to our next stop for the night.  JO ended up heroically driving through the afternoon almost clear across Nevada.  We surprisingly had a hard time finding a vacancy in Ely, NV.  When we turned in that night, BC noticed that his big toes were both throbbing and the nails on both of these toes had turned an ominous black.  This worried BC, as he still had the longest and highest hike of the trip looming ahead.

JO on the summit of Boundary Peak, his second time.

An exhausted and miserable BC on the top.

On our way back, looking down the east ridge.  The route we ascended came up at the saddle just left of center in this picture.  We descended left, down the north ridge.

Go to Tuesday, 8/10/04

Go back to Thursday, 8/5/04