Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Hike track link

Bird lists:

South Lake

Brown Lake
Green Lake
Grunion Plateau

Another bucket list item. We've seen this mountain from about every possible side, off in the distance and close up, from previous hikes. After discovering the summit was within the reach of us hikers, and not as roped up mountaineers - and doable in a day - we decided to go for it. Our friend Chris came along for the ride; it was also a much wanted experience for him. And besides, who wouldn't want to bag a peak with a name as cool as Cloudripper?!

The first part of the hike we had done many times before: from the South Lake trailhead up to Brown and Green Lakes, then up the switchback trail to the plateau near The Hunchback. We had been a little farther before, to an intermediate high point labeled on the map as 12,406. This was all straight-forward hiking, from there it would be new territory for us.

Green Lake

Green Lake from the plateau

Hiking the plateau

There is some talus as you move across the plateau toward higher ground

Looking down at Green Lake and South Lake drainage from the plateau

Alpine Gold still in bloom at elevation
We reached the edge of the plateau, and before climbing up the intermediate ridge forming Vagabond Peak, we stopped at the cliff edge for a magnificent view west.

The Bishop Pass drainage below, with many spectacular peaks of the Goddard Divide and Evolution Range beyond
 A quick crossing of the Vagabond ridge (we saved that summit for the return) and we were descending into another plateau between the two peaks.

Chris crosses the intermediate plateau with Vagabond behind
Cloudripper summit from the intermediate plateau
Gaining another 500 feet elevation to the Cloudripper ridge, we navigated the short Class 2 section and the final very short Class 3 ascent to the summit block. 

Chris and Susan navigate the Class 2 ridge blocks

Chris looks up at the final summit

The fearless crew gains the summit!
 As expected, the 360 degree view from the 13,525 foot summit was spectacular, even with the abundant smoke from all the nearby forest fires.

The view west - Bishop Pass drainage below and the Sierra Crest beyond

To the east, Big Pine Lakes below, Palisades Crest on the right

Susan and Chris from just below the summit blocks, Big Pine Lakes and Sky Haven Peak beyond

To the north, South Lake far below. Mts. Tom and Humphreys, and many more beyond
 Next up on the return was gaining the summit block of Vagabond Peak (13,374 feet elevation), since we had to pass within a hundred yards of it anyway.

Vagabond summit from Cloudripper

Thunder and Lighning Lake is directly below Vagabond

Looking back across at the Cloudripper summit from Vagabond
My personal favorite Sierra flower, Sky Pilot (Polemonium eximium), only grows at very high elevation in talus

Our only real fear for the day was getting caught high and open by an afternoon thunder storm. So when the clouds started getting thick, and the thunder started booming out near Mt. Darwin a few miles away, we made a hasty retreat for lower country. Pretty much retracing our route, we made it to Green Lake and the relative protection of the trees before the lightening moved overhead and the first raindrops fell. Thankfully we hustled back down and made it to the trailhead without any significant rain. What a day!

Susan recrosses the plateau as the clouds move in

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