Leader: Ben Neffson
Asst.: Dan Potter
On Friday, it did not appear as if our scheduled trip would even get off the ground. The forecast was for snow and rain during the night, with icy road conditions projected for early morning on Saturday. Judging by the number of phone calls I received Friday evening, I was not the only one worried by the weather. However, the only person I actively discouraged was Norm Rohn; the odds did not favor his making the long trip from Oxnard. My apologies, Norm.
Happily, our meteorological prognosticators were in their usual fine, erring form. There was a winter snap in the air, but as Dan and I drove up Angeles Crest we encountered nothing worse than a wet road. We were the first to arrive at the designated meeting place, but in short order, others came until, at 7:45 a.m., the total stood at twenty-four. After a short introduction and quick exposition on the "rules of the trail," we were on our way at 8:00 a.m. As advertised, the pace was what I considered moderate. This proved to be too slow for three eager beavers who had difficulty in restraining their enthusiasm, and somewhat arduous for a few. Most, however, thought the pace just right. As we approached the Saddle the fine weather of the previous hours began to deteriorate and we could see the mist billowing up from Antelope Valley. As we ascended the steep ridge to Will Thrall, we were gradually enveloped by the mist and completely "socked in" by the time we made the peak. There was a brief pause for signing the register, removing packs, and for donning sweaters and parkas before proceeding along the ridge for the additional half mile to the hight point. We were back on Will Thrall for lunch at 12:00 noon, exactly as planned. The weather was still miserable.
To take the chill off the air, Vic Gleason graciously produced some RMB, which was eagerly shared and vanquished with dispatch. While we were wondering how we might now keep warm, the mist began to clear and, almost instantly, there was an intensely blue sky above us and a warming sun shining through. Thus, lunch turned out to be a very enjoyable affair with magnificent views, to the east and south, of the snow-covered San Gabriels, made more spectacular by hanging masses of broken clouds. As Mummery said, "The chief delight of mountaineering is to be found in the skillfully selected halt."
However, with one more peak to climb, and aiming for a 4:30 p.m. return to the cars, this "skillfully selected halt" could be enjoyed no longer. It was down to the Saddle again from where we could make our climb of Pallett Mtn. This time, the steep ridge scramble was led by Dan Popper, and I brought up the rear. Inasmuch as lunch had already been consumed, it appeared that the ingredients for another "skillfully selected halt" were missing. Mountaineers, however, are resourceful. With fresh, clean snow available on Pallett, and with a green elixir made available by Bob Funke, we all enjoyed another delight of mountaineering, C de M snow cones.
Regretfully, after a while, we had to call a halt to our simple pleasures and start the return to the cars. It was very pleasant; the weather remained fine, and with a few rest stops the long trip out, especially the thousand feet uphill climb in the last mile and a half, was made in good time. We reached the cars at 4:30 p.m.
Of the twenty-four participants, fifteen climbed all three peaks, nineteen climbed two, and five found time for only one ascent. For all, however, it appeared to be a very enjoyable trip.