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In part 1, a group of my friends and I hiked White Mountain Peak on Saturday and met up with another group of friends after, to prepare for Mount Tyndall the next morning. The trailhead for Mount Tyndall is a dirt parking lot sits at 6,300' along the base of the Sierra Nevada about 5 miles to the west of Independence, CA. There are no bathrooms or amenities nearby and the entire lot is sloping towards Symmes Creek. There were 20mph wind gusts throughout which night made for some pretty poor sleeping conditions.
Our alarms sounded at 3am and we hit the trail at 4am to tackle the long approach to Shepards Pass.
The map shows Shepards Pass at 9.5 miles in. When Burt and I did Mount Williamson in a day we reached the pass in 6 hours. Our group got up there in 6hrs15min which was strong for such a big group.
From the top of the pass, we could see Mount Tyndall. My original research had us going up the North Ridge on the right side but when I started finding multiple reports of route finding issues and exposure towards the top, I discovered the North Rib was much more straighforward yet not too difficult for the lesser experienced group members.
This turned out to be a good call, but again the route info we found online advised to stay to the right side of the Rib on the way up which didn't work for our group. We stayed to the left, on the slab, which provided better traction, faster progress, and less risk of causing rock-fall.
We made great progress up this section and from where we topped out on the summit ridge, I was surprised to see how close we were to the summit. There are usually false summits or closer peaks along the summit ridge that trick one into thinking the highest point is closer than it really is. But I could see people taking photos on the true summit so we dropped our packs at the notch to rock hopped our way up the final bit.
The vantage point from the summit ridge also afforded us views of the inner Sierra Nevada. Paul and I reminisced that 1 year ago on that very day we had passed through the valley below us on our second to last day of while hiking the John Muir Trail together.
I was able to call our friend Josh from the summit, who had hiked White Mountain with us the day before but decided to stay in town to rest while we hiked Mount Tyndall. We updated him on our progress and he was impressed with the good time we made to the top. Knowing we would be back in town after all the stores closed that night, we kindly requested that he picked up some food for us to have back at the Whitney Hostel.
When Burt and I first set out to climb Mount Williamson 3 years ago it was our goal at the time to also hike Mount Tyndall the same day. Mount Williamson is definitely the more difficult of the 2 peaks with the Williamson Bowl and technical gullies to the summit plateau plus some rock climbing variations and lots of false summits. I was struggling from altitude issues that trip and made the call to abandon the objective of also doing Tyndall that day: we finished with 30 miles and 19 hours of hiking. To be back up there, with Burt, and do Tyndall together in car-to-car style, was the perfect closure to this chapter in our quest to climb all the California Fourteeners.
The way down always feels like forever, but I'm convinced this is when the true character-building of the day happens. Paul and I had a good time reminiscing of previous adventures and all the miles we've shared together on the trail over the years and we had some good laughs towards the end when the day's exertion started to play tricks on one of our hiking partners -- she thought she saw an Iguana on the trail!
We finished the day in 17 hours covering 9,000' of elevation gain in 24.5 miles. We were all very excited with this accomplishment and enjoyed a couple Mammoth 395 IPAs at the trailhead in celebration. We called Josh at the hostel, who informed us he had a large pizza, spaghetti and beers waiting for us in the room. It was such a great day on the trail, shared with old and new friends!
In 48 hours, we had hiked for 23 hours total and covered a total of 47.5 miles with more than 11,000' of elevation gain.