Tehipite Dome and Spanish Mountain Attempt #2 Gets A Little Snowy

  • Updated: September 27, 2014
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

September 27th & 29th28th, 2014
Tehipite Dome (7,708')
Spanish Mountain (10,051')

I tried to do these two peaks several years ago while struggling with a prolonged illness.  The result was I managed to get Spanish but never got anywhere near Tehipite.  That means this was technically a grudge peak for me and one that had always stood out due to the 3rd class summit block and pictures like this.

2014 rolled around and I planned this with Laurent Hoffman and Jeff Atijera as an official Sierra club outing towards the end of the season.  We ended up with a full group of friends signing up all excited to see the area.  Then a few weeks before the trip the forecast showed a bit of weather.

We watched it as the trip approached and there was a clear trend of the prediction getting worse. Despite this we decided to roll the dice.

When I was here in 2012 I used the Rancheria Trailhead but you can also get in from the nearby Crown Valley Trailhead. We decided to use the latter just to be different.
According to information I found on online at the time there were no bear boxes at Crown so we decided to meet at Rancheria, clean out the cars there, then head over to Crown to start hiking.

Rancheria Trailhead

After a long late night drive we awoke early the next morning to find several vehicles hadn't arrived including the one carrying my two co-leaders.

I was about to drive over to the other TH to see if maybe someone had misread the trip email when a vehicle drove up.  First thing I noticed was that there were several people inside and that they were carrying rifles.  That by itself isn't an incredibly uncommon sight out here but the fact they didn't make eye contact at all as they drove up and stopped right in front of us was a little disconcerting.

Just as this was sinking into my coffee deprived brain and door opened and Amin hopped out of the back seat.

Turns out Neal's car had arrived much earlier the day before while it had been raining and found the parking area at Rancheria was one giant puddle.  They'd backtracked to where there was pavement and had been camping along the road.  We'd driven right by them last night.

No problem so far.  But Amin had slept outside and Neal was nice enough to turn on the headlights while he set up his tent.  Neal then fell asleep only to wake up later, see the lights were out, and fall back asleep.  So come morning his battery was dead.  Oops.

We drove back and found them but there was some concern that no one's vehicle was powerful enough to jump Neal's truck.  Any attempts to flag down someone hadn't worked out and eventually we were able to get it started from Steve and Karyn's element.

We then proceeded over to Crown where we found Jeff and Laurent waiting for us.  So much for reading trip emails.

We also found that Crown did have bear boxes so we needn't have bothered with Rancheria at all though I believe it was lacking a bathroom.

We got moving in a jovial mood and at least initially the weather was beautiful.

As we climbed out of a valley we got a better look behind us and the situation started to look a little less rosy...

And sure enough before long we were getting wet.

This wasn't a summit day so a little rain wasn't an issue.  It was coming down lightly at first but the trend was getting worse.

Descending toward Geraldine Lakes

The last bit we lost all visibility and were right on the line between rain and snow making things a bit chilly.

We found our lake and not surprisingly we had it to ourselves.

Neal decided to do his thing and had just gone around the lake to bathe when the snow started in earnest.

It came went though so we managed a decent happy hour and even played Cards Against Humanity for a while.

Eventually it started to come down harder and we all dove for our tents.  The next morning the situation had changed a bit.

Note the flip flops
We had a few inches of snow and spent a few hours sitting around waiting to see what the weather was going to do.  Finally we had a powwow and looked at our options.

We decided Tehipite wasn't realistic considering we didn't have winter boots and that we'd have to climb the exposed slab bit when it was wet or even better icy.  Also the forecast hadn't exactly improved over the next day or two.  We had the option of leaving and giving back the vacation day we'd all taken Monday or else hunker down, climb Spanish that day in the snow, and then try and do Tehipite Monday morning, hike out, and drive home.  That would have made for a very hard day even under ideal circumstances.  We decided to call it.

We hiked out through a mix of rain and snow.

And so ended attempted Attempt #2 to get Tehipite.  After having been back in the same general area I started toying with the idea of going in from Little Tehipite Valley just for a change in scenery.  Not to mention the peak is apparently incredible from that side.  Sadly the area was within the bounds of the Rough Fire in 2015 so I'm not sure how soon I'll be able to get back there.

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