August 7, 2017
The night had been a chilly one. A heavy layer of frost had collected over our tents which would not come off even with vigorous shaking. My water bottle had partially frozen and I had to give it a good few smashes with a rock to get the frozen cap off. We began moving about 20 minutes after sunrise at a slow steady pace up Carpe Diem Peak's north ridge. This was a fun class 3 morning warm up, with harder terrain closer to the ridge crest.
An amazingly expansive view was to be had from the summit of Carpe Diem Peak, with the remaining Isberg Divide splayed out before us. It did not feel as humid today as all the previous days. Maybe we were gonna get lucky with weather today. We fumbled through the register full of obscure names. A group of three had even managed to traverse from Red Peak to Mt. Ansel Adams several years back.
looking southeast from Carpe Diem Peak
Carpe Diem's southwest ridge contained a series of drops spliced by several ribs and fins dropping south. Toshi chose to weave through these ribs as Sean and I dropped an extra 200 ft down south to go around them. After meeting back up with him on the ridge, he mentioned that his route was only class 3-4 and quite fun. Phooey.
Up ahead was Little Foerster Peak, which contained good views despite the not so interesting slog up it.
Little Foerster summit views
Foerster Peak was a larger version of Little Foerster: boring sand slog, great views.
views from Foerster
Foerster marked the start of a long easy stretch of the traverse which would last all the way up to Walton Peak. This stretch was characterized by long, broad ridges which could be walked across fairly easily and quickly. Our speed almost doubled in this section compared to other sections, and it felt super enjoyable to coast up and down this alpine sidewalk as several scenic basins with bright blue pristine lakes flew by on either sides of the ridge.
We descended just east of Forester's blocky south ridge down steep class 2. Halfway down was a trickle of water which Sean and Toshi took time filling their bottles with. Ascending the next peak (Harriet Peak) involved walking on the crest of a fun narrow class 2-3 ridge. It was definitely more efficient to stay on the exact crest here rather than dropping off either side. We ate lunch on the summit and enjoyed a cool and comfortable breeze.
view east from Harriet Peak towards Blue Lake Basin, Bench Canyon, and the Ritter Range
The ridge between Harriet and Bench Peak was a straight forward shot, with a little class 3 to contend with on top of Bench. Several options were possible here.
Despite being a lowly peak, Bench Peak contained absolutely amazing views.
descending south side of Bench Peak
Bench Peak to Long Mountain was also very straightforward. The last bit up to Long contained standard large granite boulders. It looked like the weather would hold today, so this was our first full day of nonstop climbing. I thought to myself that the storms had been a blessing in disguise, forcing us to rest which was partly the reason why we still felt as well as we did now.
view southeast from Long Mountain
The next two peaks (Blush and Isberg) whizzed by in no time, a scenic whirlpool of green, blue, gray, red, and white. The ridge between Blush and Isberg contained several low angle slabs, giving us a welcome respite from rock hopping. Unfortunately Sean's ankles began acting up and he did not seem to enjoy it as much as the other two of us.
looking northeast from Blush Peak
views along Blush-Isberg ridge
Isberg Peak's summit was a wild explosion of color, contrasting significantly to the various background shades of greens and blues.
Descending Isberg Peak's south ridge involved a brief section of bushwhacking mixed in with class 2-3 boulders which let us know how tired we were. Before long we located a faint trail snaking across Isberg Pass. After only a tenth of a mile on this trail, we left it to ascend the north ridge of Turner Peak. This was a straightforward walk-up.
Turner Peak summit views
After a short walk down Turner's south side, we hit another trail heading up towards Post Peak Pass. Less than a half mile later we came to a small seasonal tarn with great camping. Deciding that this was probably a good spot due to water, we dropped our bags here and set up camp. There was still an hour of daylight left, and we decided to climb Post Peak after setting up the tents.
30 minutes later we were walking up the trail to Post Peak Pass. We had brought along a rope, harnesses, and climbing shoes for its class 5 summit block. In the end we would only need the climbing shoes. Upon reaching Post Peak Pass, we left the trail and continued up Post Peak's class 2 north ridge. The terrain consisted of large blocks which we sailed up without heavy packs to weigh us down.
The summit block was a nice fun finish to this long day. We all climbed up its east face where numerous smears could be found on corners on either side. After a couple smears, we were high enough to just grab the top and pull ourselves up.
views from summit block
Toshi and Sean on summit block
alpenglow on traverse peaks
It took only 10 minutes to descend back to camp where the previously wet tents we had set up were now dry. We cooked dinner and watched the alpenglow fade out over the Minarets, a very delightful scene that few have seen.
go to day 6