Just before the Big Kuna trip Bob asked me to join him on his 4th of July expedition and without hesitation I accepted. At that time I didn't know the trip was rated E4 for experts only and maybe that was the reason the group size was limited to the two of us. Nevertheless the prospect of an American-Dutch undertaking in one of the most remote regions of the eastern Sierra crest was too tempting to bail.
|Near Moonlight Lake
The south side gave way nicely to both telemark and parallel turns, and we worked our way up in the afternoon heat over a col next to Mt. Powell and down into the upper headwaters of the Middle Fork Kings River. We decided to push past our planned campsite to avoid a traverse which would be ice and potentially risky in the early morning. We found ourselves a good spot looking out over the southeast flank of Mt. Gilbert and only 100 feet below a hairy looking passage which we decided was going to be our next day's project.
|Bob atop Johnson Ridge
The crux over the next pass turned out to be less bonebreaking than anticipated. It required most of our concentration but luckily only for a short time. Nice foot and hand holds lead us confortably to the lip at the top of the gully which could be easily conquered using ice axe and crampons.
And then it was only 500 feet down over uneven 'cuppy' snow and another 300 up before we set camp early that afternoon, and finally could read our books and think our thoughts. I couldn't resist playing in the lake, though, barefooted on the snow covered ice, the joy was short. We celebrated fourth of July with some Drambuis and pesto sauce which kept amazingly well considering the high daytime temperatures.
|Menno ascending Goode Col
We had a more than 2000 ft descent in front of us and tried to exploit every inch of it by making as many turns as possible. The snow conditions turned out to be the best so far. With our 10 pounds lighter packs and a well marked trail, the walk to Lake Sabrina was far more comfortable than the approach. We were welcomed by a truck and driver eager to shuttle Bob back to the rodent-intruded Subaru waiting at Lake Sabrina.
We plunged in a little stream so as to be fresh when later enjoying some slices of pizza, a pitcher of ice-cold Sierra Nevada beer and a small salad which, at Bob's suggestion, was carefully piled up to become a large one to satisfy our craving for vegetables. With some amusement I observed the Bishop locals with their cowboy hats, ditto boots and special hair syle, hanging around in the local restaurants to escape the unbearable heat outside. Would they know what the heart and soul of Inyo and Kings Canyon is like? I wonder, as I find myself extremely restless, wanting to be back there soon.
-Menno Van Lookeren, 7/10/98