Went out with Greg K. this weekend intending on climbing American Border. In the end, we did not do it for several reasons.
We left the car at 9:30 on the Twin Lakes road just after the Yellow Aster Butte trail. Be forewarned. You need high clearance 4WD to get further. Seriously. The road is now a 2.2 mile walk to Twin Lakes. There was one dude who did make it up quite a distance on the road, but he was thwarted by snow on the road. We walked our bikes up to Twin Lakes.
There was a lot more snow than I anticipated. In fact we had to use crampons walking around the trail under the east side of Winchester. This trail is definitely going to take at least 2 more weeks to melt out. This traverse tired me out more than anticipated. We got to High Pass at 12:45….just over 3 hours from the cars. Normally under ideal conditions with driving to Twin Lakes it would take the average Joe about 1 hour.
We went for Pleiades. Wouldn’t you know Beckey guidebook has left out a lot of details and is incorrect? Here is how you do it. Go over the eastern of the western two summits (7280+). Ascend a choice of class 3 gullies to the 7160+ col between the two western summits. Class 3 to get out of col to the eastern of the western summits. Descend an exposed and rotten class 3 gully on the eastern side of the western summit to the 6880+ col—we used a rope. Ascend up from the col to a goat ledge. This goat ledge is fricken amazing. It goes for about 200-300 meters around to the base of the 7160+ col between the eastern summits. You know the goat ledge going around Dumbell to get to Greenwood? Well multiply that by around 5 to 6 times in length! Beckey’s descriptions says nothing about a goat ledge and this ledge is quite critical in making the summit. I now doubt Beckey did this peak. I was going by Beckey’s description and it appears he says the farthest eastern pinnacle is the highest (7334). So that is what we did, and there is quite a cairn on the summit. Beckey is wrong. The highest point is actually in the clump of spires at 7320+ on the map. You can access then highest point (7320+) peak from the east, but I do not recommend it as we did. In fact I recommend you ascend a potential class 3 way up once you pass the first gully while you are on the goat ledge. We got back to High Camp at 8:30. It took us 7 hours round trip. Oi.
Sunday morning we woke up to sleets of rain we could see to the west moving towards us. What? We were to climb American Border! The forecast was bomber and now we are looking at rain. In spite of how tired we are and the gloomy way the skies were going we went for Larrabee which is a mix of class 2 and 3. Around 7000 feet the wind picked up, we entered the fog, and we had driving sprinkling rain for the remainder up. Oh, and it got cold. Glad I was not on American Border because this weather would have made American Border suck for the one rock pitch and wet rock on the class 3 traverse. We could see that further south…about 50 miles the weather did not look so bad, but here it sucked.
We came down easily to High Camp, picked up our gear and headed for the Winchester Lookout by going up the NW slope. Never been to Winchester Lookout. This place has an awesome view and is open to anyone who can get there. I recommend the place, but you might be fighting for space on nice weekends with other people, however, with the road conditions expect now a 4 mile additional walk. Get this, the snow was in such a condition, that we even needed crampons to get off of Winchester Lookout trail. Crazy I tell you.
We still had some extra time, so we went up Bear (6480+) which is just north of Goat Mountain and directly west and above the mine. We left from the bathroom of Twin Lakes, went over the subsummit, traversed a little bit around and then went up. Nice summit.
On the way down on bikes something happened. About ¼ of a miles from the car Greg went over his handlebars and fell on his face on the rocks of the road. He had many cuts and blood was everywhere, but he did not loose a lot of blood. We stopped the bleeding on his forehead with duct tape and bandages on his nose. The notch in his nose did not look good. He is pretty banged up but will recover nicely. He will have forever scar on his nose. His wife Sarah helped clean him up when we got home. Hope you are fine Greg!
There's a photo in my 1st edition Becky that has 'Western' and 'Eastern' Pleiades indicated on the wrong summits.... Fred probably forgot all the details by the time he got around to writing them down.
American Border has called to me since I was a kid, yet I've never dared attempt it. Maybe never will. It looks so cool and yet so scary. Just the approach would undoubtedly kick my ass.
See any miner's 'gopher holes' on the summit ridge of Bear ? There's a few up there, also a hole where the Lone Jack stoped upward and hit the surface. Not something you want to fall into.
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