June 17, 2015
After a relaxing wake up, we packed up and proceeded down the southwest ridge of Muriel towards Alpine Col, starting at 6:30am. The terrain was bouldery, and aside from a few easy class 3 moves near the top, it stayed mainly class 2- nothing like a nice morning boulder hop to start the day, which would consist of many more boulder hops to come. As soon as we crossed Alpine Col, we began ascending Goethe's northeast ridge. The first several hundred feet of climbing was more class 2 boulder hopping. As we reached the main crest of the ridge, it turned to semi-exposed class 3. Secor calls this part of the ridge class 4, but many people have said that this rating was too soft. The class 3 was mostly on solid rock and was very enjoyable. We reached the summit of Goethe at around 8:40am.
Goethe's northeast ridge seen from Muriel
the class 3 part of Goethe's northeast ridge
view northeast from Mt. Goethe's summit
closeup of the Evolution Traverse
The next two peaks after Goethe were unnamed, so I ended up dubbing them "The Hopelessly Enslaved" and "The Falsely Free" after the famous quote by Goethe: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Both peaks were easy class 1 walk-ups. It took roughly 40 minutes to get from Goethe to the second peak.
views from The Hopelessly Enslaved
view NNW from The Falsely Free
From The Falsely Free, the next peak (Packsaddle Peak) looked fairly close, but it would take almost an hour to reach it as the terrain was very tedious, involving several small ups and downs with class 2-3 boulder hopping. Bob Burd had mentioned similar tediousness in his 2009 report of this section.
traversing between The Falsely Free and Packsaddle Peak
looking back at The Falsely Free from Packsaddle Peak
At last, we were able to reach Packsaddle Peak. To the north lay Wahoo Peak. This small peak (which looks very prominent when seen from Humphreys Basin to the north), was a short and fun class 3 scramble from Packsaddle Peak.
Wahoo seen from Packsaddle
looking south from Wahoo Peak
Our next order of business was to slog up to and climb over a series of pinnacles to the west. After descending Packsaddle Peak and taking a food break, we began slogging towards Sunny Peak: the easternmost pinnacle in the group. The terrain was all class 2 boulder hopping up to Sunny Peak. At the summit, we found an old register. To the west, our numerous pinnacle friends looked more welcoming than ever.
view south from Sunny Peak
Our next peak, Mohawk Peak, was located a short distance to the west. Mohawk Peak was the highest point among the group of pinnacles. Getting to it involved several ups and downs along the class 3 ridge of pinnacles.
just below the summit of Mohawk
The summit of Mohawk contained another old register.
From Mohawk, the ridge to the west did not look all that bad, but we were soon to find out that it would contain the most tedious scrambling on the traverse. After a short period of mellow ridge, more pinnacles seemed to appear out of nowhere. Many of these were technical, requiring us to ascend and descend several 50 ft sections in order to keep the climbing to class 3-4. Some of these pinnacles also contained somewhat loose terrain, and we would ocassionaly knock some large boulders off the ridge.
view west from Mohawk Peak
At last, we came to the saddle between Mohawk and Matthes, and sat down for a food break. Matthes would be mostly a class 2 rock hop with one or two easy class 3 moves just below the summit plateau.
Matthes was nothing more than one foot in front of the other, and it didn't take too long to reach the summit. I recalled the familiar summit, having stood on it (and the next peak) in the 2014 Sierra challenge. It was nice to be on familiar terrain.
just below the summit plateau of Matthes Peak
The descent of Matthes' northwest ridge to the lowpoint between Matthes and Divide Benchmark (known as "Packsaddle Pass") was straightforward class 2. Divide's southeast ridge started off class 2, then turned to fun solid class 3 closer to the summit. We reached the summit at around 4:50, and sat down for a while. Both of us were feeling pretty beat.
class 3 on Divide Benchmark
Divide Benchmark summit
When we had stood on this summit less than a year ago in the Sierra Challenge, Jonathan Bourne had placed a register made out of a PVC pipe, which is known for being hard to open. We took turns banging it around all over the summit before finally managing to unscrew the lid. Not surprisingly, we were the last group to sign it in 2014, and the first to sign it in 2015.
register and benchmark
view north from Divide Benchmark
The descent of Divide's northwest ridge contained a few hundred foot section of class 3 climbing (some might call it low 4th), then leveled off and became class 1-2 for the remaining distance to Lobe Pass.
We got down to Lobe Pass and decided to camp there since the terrain was flat and sandy. With well over an hour of sunlight remaining, we boiled snow and ate dinner. Just before sunset, we ascended a short distance north to tag the summit of Honeymoon Peak.
looking up towards Honeymoon Peak
looking back at Divide Benchmark
view northeast from Honeymoon Peak
We headed back down to camp and were asleep within 30 minutes after sunset. We planned to wake up the next morning before sunrise, climb the three remaining peaks to the west, then come back to Lobe Pass before descending north off the ridge.
go to Day 3