| This past weekend Max
Nachury, Karin Reif, and myself Mike
Rinaldi went on an ambitious trek to climb both Mt Silly and Polemonium.
On the Topo they look fairly doable (even correcting for the mislabeling
of Polemonium where Peak 13796 should be). Our adventure started at Bishop
where we had our traditional pre-trip breakfast at Whiskey Creek. By 9AM
we were on the trail head at South Lake. While hiking to Bishop Pass we
met half a dozen Goretex and cap clad backpackers coming the other way.
They all said that the weather had been cold and snowy the previous day.
We were at the tail end of a freak August weather front. As we approached
the Pass it got much cooler and windier. We quickly added more layers and
were soon at the Pass. From here we headed cross-country skirting the base
of Mt. Agassiz. We wanted to stay on the 12000' contour as much as possible
in order to be as close as possible to Thunderbolt
Pass (12300). This turned out to save elevation gain/loss but we defintely
lost much time. It's much more efficient to drop down to 11700 or so and
then back up to T-bolt Pass since the terrain is much more managable. Once
over the Pass we dropped about 300' to a pond. We set
camp here bypassing the lower main Barret
Lake. We thought that we would attempt Sill, the next day, by skirting
the Palisades and going over the high ridge (east of Potluck
Pass). The next day we learned from our previous days mistake. Instead
of trying to save altitude at the expense of harder talus travel we dropped
to near upper Barret Lake and made for the high ridge east of Potluck Pass.
By bypassing Potluck Pass we were able to drop into the Polemonium - Sill
cirque at about the 13000' contour. As we studied the face of Sill for
our route we heard a tremendous explosion and crash. We quickly turned
just in time to see a VW bus size boulder dropping from near the summit
crest of the Palisades down into the Sill snow field. The boulder dropped
some 1000' making only one bounce! After our knees stopped shaking we composed
ourselves and started up the ridge connecting Polemonium and Sill. Karin
chose to stay at the base since she was not feeling well. Max and myself
quickly gained the summit with only minor class 4'ish traversing near the
top. We could have avoided this by taking a more direct route. Once on
top we enjoyed the tremendous view. We opted
to save the ridge traverse to Polemonium for another day since it was late
(2:30pm) and some clouds were forming toward the west. On our return trip
to camp we decided to take the Potluck Pass route. This proved to be long
and laborius. We need to descend over two boulder clad moraines before
climbing back up over Potluck Pass. The rest of the hike to camp was uneventful.
Our roundtrip from near T-bolt Pass to Sill and back went about 10.5 hours.
The lessons learned from this trip were to camp south of Barret Lake toward
Potluck Pass. Then climb up and over the ridge east of Potluck Pass bypassing
it to gain the Sill - Polemonium cirque. Doing this on the return trip
as well will save you much boulder hopping in the Glacier
Creek drainage area. Monday we hiked out and had a late lunch, again,
at Whiskey Creek. During the trip home we were greeted with rain and a
wonderful sunset featuring incredible red hues and cloud formations on
the Old Priest grade bypass road.