4th Annual Memorial Day Massacre: Courtright In A Kilt Edition

May 24th & 27th, 2013
Three Sisters (10,612')
Dogtooth Peak (10,302')
Black Peak (9,773')
Zingheim Heights (11,138')
Mount Henry (12,196')
[Pics] [Map]

Memorial Day is somewhat of a problem.  On one hand it's an opportunity for a long weekend close enough to Sierra season to make me want to run amok up at altitude.  But on the other hand it's a bit early for trailhead access and for the snow pack to be melted not to mention the history of somewhat bad weather.

But of course a long weekend isn't something to be wasted.  So enter the now annual Memorial Day Massacre.  It started way back in 2010 as a normal enough three day backpack with an aggressive schedule.  A planned hike from Canebrake back down to Walker Pass along the PCT grabbing 7 or 8 peaks in the process went a bit downhill after a (not uncommon) route finding issue on Spanish Needle followed and a water source reported to be running which turned out to be dry.  Cue a bit of a reroute lasting until 10:30 pm or so followed by a few somewhat long days and the majority of the group not getting near all of the planned peaks.  Fun was had by all.  Except those that took an extended break from hiking as a result.

Following the aftermath of that little jaunt I rebranded it the Memorial Day Massacre and started making plans for the following year.

In 2011 we headed for Shepherd's Pass only to have an only unpleasant weather forecast transform into a 100 mph fun fest.  One retreat from altitude, a torn tent, and a night spent in a rather friendly bush with snow coming down on top of us later we bailed out and settled for a dayhike of Olancha.

The Third Annual Masochistic Fun Fest we stuck further south.  This time bad weather was largely shrugged off and we managed an impressive 100 miles, 20k gain, and 6 peaks.  Granted I limped out of Haiwee Pass 5 days later with some of the worst blisters I'd ever had and was barely able to walk for the trip the following weekend.

Having found success in that model (Gee, Kern can be done as an easy 2 or 3 day from this trailhead, lets get it from waaaaaaaay the hell over here) I set my sights on Courtright for the sure to be legendary 4th annual outing.

Mount Julius Caesar Kaweah Snow Outing

May 18th & 19th, 2013
Mount Julius Caesar (13,200')
[Pics] [Map]

It's been a fun start to the year with the occasional desert trip snuck in between the always awesome 10 week Wilderness Travel Course and the spring session of the Advanced Mountaineering Program but at long bloody last it's time to kick off the Sierra season.

This particular weekend along with the Alabama Hills rock climbing trip a few weeks back were planned as private outings to give the WTC students of Kaweah group the opportunity to learn some more advanced skills beyond what we teach in the course.  (WTC used to be called BMTC and included rock climbing and ice axe and crampons but these days we are limited to rock scrambling and winter backpacking)

The original plan had been more along the lines of a car camp with a day of ice axe and crampon practice followed by a easier but non trivial peak climb to put the new skills to use.  Unfortunately this seasons rather apathetic snow levels meant that there wasn't much that was easily accessible.  So instead we changed it to a backpack with the plan of hopefully finding some decent snow up high.

After some last minute debate I settled on Julius Caesar out of Pine Creek.  It had spectacular views, the approach was a trailhead I'd never used before, and at 13,220 ft I figured we'd probably be able to manage some amount of snow.