Summits: 1340

2014: June 11-13 » Gould, Johnson (fail), Montgomery, Dubois

After a rest day in Independence (appreciated after a climb of Mt Barnard), Phil Stinis and I made short work of Mt. Gould (13005′, pics 1-5) on Wednesday. The fun class 3 summit block made the 1000 foot sand slog well worth the effort. We were back in Independence by early afternoon, and enjoyed a lengua burrito before heading to South Lake out of Bishop to crash out for the night.

Thursday morning, Phil and I set our sights on Mt. Johnson (pics 6-10), a lesser traveled twelve thousand foot peak tucked between mounts Goode and Gilbert. Expecting another short day, our efforts were thwarted by snow covered boulder hopping and a poor choice of footwear (we had ditched boots and gaiters in favor of trailrunners after the much higher Mt Barnard had been snow free). We didn’t give up easily once we did hit snow, but after close to an hour of cold and wet feet, punching through to our knees a few times, and no guarantee that we’d reach drier ground, an afternoon coffee in Bishop started to sound pretty good (and was!).

After failure on Mt. Johnson on Thursday, redemption on Friday could be described in two words – Montgomery (13441′) and Dubois (13559′). And this would be redemption times two. Montgomery and Dubois are two 13000+ foot peaks that lie in the White Mountain Range (pics 11-18), and we’d actually failed on Montgomery last March. Tagging both of these peaks together would require a very long day, and would require reaching Montgomery via an approach that I hadn’t been able to verify that anyone had used, so I was a bit unsure of our success…

Phil and I reached the end of the long dirt road heading towards Middle Creek just west of Dyer, NV, before making a spaghetti dinner and crashing out early to a movie. Several hours of off and on bushwacking and stream crossings early the next morning got us to a large sandy chute that splits the ridge connecting Montgomery and Dubois. We reached the top of that chute in 4 hours from the truck, and though the ridgeline heading to Montgomery from there looked a bit more rugged than I had expected, it was at this point that I knew we’d make both summits.

Pihill and I each left our 1L Gatorade bottles at the saddle to retrireve on our way back, weaved in and around and sometimes over rocky towers, and tagged Montgomery’s summit in windy yet beautiful conditions. We topped off our Camelbaks via a snowpatch on the way back down, picked up our Gatorades, and started making our way towards Dubois in increasing winds. The first half mile to Dubois was steep, but we eventually found ourselves on the broad rounded ridge, where the last 2 miles would have been relatively easy, had it not been for the now bitter-cold and relentless wind. We leapfrogged behind boulders when we could to take the time to warm our hands and faces (even with medium-weight gloves, the cold in my fingertips was getting worrisome). We made the summit of Dubois 3.5 hours after leaving Montgomery, and descended as fast as we could. Unfortunately, as fast as we could turned out not to be so fast, and I grossly underestimated the difficulty of our route down, which took us 5 hours instead of the 3 I had predicted. We reached the truck just before 10pm, a long day at 14 hours. We mustered up the energy to change our clothes, drive out to Dyer, and mix it up with the locals for food and drinks at the local tavern before crashing out just 30 minutes down the road…