Peak Baggers Special
Leaders: Les Stockton, Ken Ferrell
The biggest problem on this annual HPS game is "When do we eat lunch (and dinner)?" In the past I have attempted to conceal the fact that we don't eat any specific time or place. We snatch a bite while driving, or while waiting, or eating one continuous all day meal. This year I leveled with the participants. The revelation was such a shock to some of the newcomers that we lost about 18 of our original 42 climbers around lunch time (8 peaks completed)!
As the record is 21 peaks, we programmed 22 this year. It is an HPS policy that HPS leaders carefully scout the climbs they lead to determine road conditions and routes. Of the 22 peaks, Vetter Lookout was the only one your leader hadn't scouted, other than sending up a short prayer that the cable would be down. Vetter Lookout usually has a chain across the dirt road from the asphalt campground road so we walked the dirt road to the peak. One year the cable was down so we saved one hour by "driving up" the peak! But lo and behold the asphalt road was blocked 3 miles out because of washouts. This would have added a prohibitive time consuming 6 mi. r.t. to the total so the peak was necessarily scratched. This so shocked the leaders that upon completion of the 15th peak, Hillyer, the group, now reduced to 2 cars and 4 people (including the two leaders), decided tying the record wasn't a worthwhile endeavor so we settled for the nearest restaurant and gasoline station -- replenishing ourselves and our steeds.
The day was beautiful. It was quite a problem keeping track of the people as some would climb some, drop out, and along the way return to climb again. The one big advantage of having three unregistered people in your group is that you can lose up to three others without upsetting the leaders. Our only near accident occurred while coming down the How Bailey ridge route off San Gabriel. A rock was dislodged on this steep descent, and the cry "rock" was carefully heeded by all except one climber who was losing "style points" by descending seated. The rock struck her in the pack with no damage. In the particular incident I was glad she wasn't standing!
The new direct route on Sally of 9 min. up and 4 min. down will undoubtedly add fuel to the now-banked fires for removing this peak from the list, although the regular route is 30 min! I would like to commend the group for the steady pacing and Ken Ferrell for his steady assisting. I hope they will have fixed the Vetter road by next year.