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T.R. - Boundary Peak & Montgomery Peak

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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T.R. - Boundary Peak & Montgomery Peak

Postby Aubrey » Thu May 31, 2007 7:45 pm

Boundary Peak, 13,140’ (Nevada highpoint) and Montgomery Peak, 13,441’
Route: Trail Canyon to Boundary; ridge to Montgomery
Distance: roughly 10 miles round trip
Elevation gained: ~ 5,300’
Date climbed: May 27, 2007

*Special thanks to RenoBob for his trip report, which we found very useful:
viewtopic.php?t=6006

PREFACE

In search of high and dry peaks to climb over the Memorial Day weekend (and the reasons mentioned in my earlier post, linked below), Jen and I perused maps and did some Googling, which led us to the White Mountains. The White Mountains, as we read, are some of the driest, high-elevation mountains in the lower 48.

Here’s the post I made in January about these peaks:
viewtopic.php?t=4842

Our idea came to fruition ... even though we wanted to stay closer to the trailhead at this motel on Montgomery Pass:

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Jen and I flew into Las Vegas and picked up our rental Trailblazer. The following day we headed into the remote Nevada desert. Surprisingly, there was quite a bit to see along the way: dirt devils (some of which looked like mini tornadoes), brothels (working and defunct), naked peaks (some with multi-colored striations and nifty formations), dry lakes, sand dunes ("Big Dune"), Joshua trees and a lot of tumbleweeds. No rest stops, though, and only a few gas stations here and there.

Driving fast came easy. Jen kept telling me to slow down. But 95 miles per hour felt like 55.

Leaving Las Vegas; snapping a pic of a brothel (defunct, I think); and the open road:

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With speeds averaging around 70, we made it from the south side of the Strip to Bishop, California, in less than 5 hours.

GETTING TO THE TRAILHEAD

We drove north from Bishop, east over Montgomery Pass, and then south to the dusty Trail Canyon Road.

Along the way we saw some wild horses (we also saw a group of them not far from the saddle).

Here's a shot of the sunrise, as we drove up the dusty, Trail Canyon Road (never passed another car the whole way to the trailhead):

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In total, it took us about an hour and a half to get from Bishop to the trailhead parking lot. 2WD cars can get to the trailhead, but they may spin some tires and they may take longer. After the pond, the road got slightly rougher and narrower (tree branches scraped the sides of our rental in some sections).

THE CLIMB

Started hiking shortly after 6:15 a.m. In the beginning, the trail was pretty easy to follow. Crossed a stream, walked on tramped-down grass, along the edge of a bog, and through willows on a nice trail. Then the trail opened up in a clearing of short, stubby willows from hell. It was all bushwhacking from there to the saddle.

Unfortunately, I had just taken off my pant legs and I kept going in shorts. Those willows scraped the hell out of my legs.

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Made it to saddle at 8 a.m.

As we ascended Boundary’s broad shoulder, I thought about RenoBob’s analogy and I agreed: It was like the Trough on Longs Peak but twice as long. It also kind of reminded me of Belford’s long ridge.

Halfway up the relentless ridge, I really started to feel the weight of my pack, and I realized I was carrying 4 liters of fluids and a bunch of winter gear, including an ice axe (didn’t end up needing any of the winter gear).

We continued up the trail (climber’s right) and were afforded a striking view of Boundary’s jagged spires, steep couloirs and large gendarmes.

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Made Boundary Peak’s summit at 10 a.m.

Signed us all on the register – Aubrey, Jen and TalusMonkey. Then I enjoyed RenoBob’s marks (words, sticker and other things), as I cracked open a warm Colt 45 and tipped back some gulps as a tribute and respectful gesture to David Worthington. This may come as a surprise to some, but it was the first time I’ve drank beer on a summit.

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In the ‘hood, gangstas “poor a little out” for their fallen homies, so I poured some out for TM. Well, OK, I poured a lot out, but only because I still had some serious climbing ahead and I’m not a big fan of cheap beer.

Moments later, and after learning how to resuscitate a lizard (which is a handy thing to know in the desert), we pushed on to the formidable Montgomery Peak. It was 10:20 a.m.

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The ridge started out easy enough, but it quickly became more serious. And route finding became more and more of an issue after the low point on the saddle (12,865’, according to my GPS).

I would say that a majority of the ridge was no more difficult than class 3, but there were some sections that we found ourselves on that were easily class 4. I was stemming, mantling, toe jamming and finger wedging to stay alive. OK, perhaps I'm exaggerating, but it was a little hairy at times.

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I did have a "moment" on that mountain. It was when I was climbing right at my comfort zone and a few things went through my mind. First, I was climbing up some stuff that looked kinda' sketchy to downclimb. Next, I was noticing a lot of loose, unstable rock. And then I heard and saw a large rock fall in a distant couloir. Fear and panic tried to set in. I first channeled it to Jen, just because she was there. I got all cranky / irritated / whatever you want to call it, and I let it out on her. After refocusing and becoming more rational, I channeled the fear to extreme concentration ... and everything was coolio again. The loose/unstable ridge rock freaked me out a bit, though. Had to test just about every foot and/or hand hold.

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Made Montgomery Peak’s summit at 11:45 and signed the register. TalusMonkey was also on that mountain, by the way. This sort of climbing is right up his alley.

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On the way back to Boundary, we met a guy named Greg who was zipping across to Montgomery. He was the first person we came across all day. His girlfriend, Katie, waited for him on Boundary’s summit (she didn't have to wait long, as he was hauling butt).

We made it back to Boundary the second time a little before 1 p.m.

As we continued down we came across a few others on their way up (no more than 10 people total). Met some interesting people, one of which was a 74-year-old local man on his way down from Boundary. He was hiking with five dogs. We stopped to talk with him and he told us about how he used to climb Boundary (among other peaks) back in '70s, long before there were any trails on the mountain. He also told us how he just went to his 50th class reunion for Colorado School of Mines.

Aside from Greg and Katie, all the other climbers we came across had taken the Queen Canyon Mine route.

By the time we made it down to the saddle, both of us were exhausted. It was getting uncomfortably hot, too. Shortly thereafter we both ran out of water and Gatorade. Due to heat, thirst, hunger, exhaustion and willow hating, the crankiness set in. Long story short, Jen and I ended up bickering over stupid crap (like routefinding through the willows and going too slow / too fast).

10 miles and 5,300 feet doesn’t sound too bad on its own, but most of the route was tough hiking and climbing – through hardy willows, sandy trails, slippery scree, loose rock, and a precarious ridge with class 3 and 4 route finding challenges. Oh, and did I mention these peaks are in a desert?

It’s amazing how far you can deprive/push your body sometimes.

Here's a pic of Boundary (left) and Montgomery (right) that was taken right at the border:

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After our grueling, 9-hour climb, and then a 1.5-hour drive back to Bishop, California, we took some much-needed showers and hit a restaurant for beers and burgers. Some rodeo event called Mule Days was going on at the time so there were a lot of cowboy types walking around town, among other tourists. While waiting for our food, and in my post-hike delirium, I leaned over to Jen and poignantly whispered, “There are a lot of Californians in this town.”

Jen replied, “Aubrey, we’re in California.”

After a good laugh, we both realized that throughout the day we had gone from California to Nevada to California to Nevada to California.

p.s., here's my White Mountain Peak trip report (climbed the day after Boundary and Montgomery):
viewtopic.php?p=66135#66135

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Postby Kevin Baker » Thu May 31, 2007 9:36 pm

Congrats on a very productive weekend, Aubrey and Jen! Do you have aspirations of doing all the state highpoints? It's been a fun journey for me. Montgormery looks like a fun climb. Wish my wife would have let me do it while I was there, but it was tough enough to get her to do Boundary!

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Postby USAKeller » Thu May 31, 2007 10:25 pm

Aubrey,
Both of your trip reports are fabulous, just fabulous. Thanks for sharing! :D
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Postby Brad » Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:48 am

Sounds like a nice way to spend the Memorial Day weekend, without the crowds and the in-laws back in Alabama - oh, I am digressing on how I spent my weekend.

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Postby RenoBob » Fri Jun 01, 2007 11:02 am

Aubrey:
I thought Montgomery looked a litte hairy, you definitely proved it. Really impressive double, I know how difficult that was. Loved your description of the willows from hell, sagebrush actually, and you did it in shorts? We were pretty roughed up in long pants. Glad you had such a good climb, hope you get to put the lizard resuscitation lessons to use soon.
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Postby Aubrey » Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:21 pm

RenoBob wrote:Aubrey:
I thought Montgomery looked a litte hairy, you definitely proved it. Really impressive double, I know how difficult that was. Loved your description of the willows from hell, sagebrush actually, and you did it in shorts? We were pretty roughed up in long pants. Glad you had such a good climb, hope you get to put the lizard resuscitation lessons to use soon.


Yes, the ridge was pretty hairy (for me). I think the exposure and the scrambling/climbing would’ve been hairy enough, but the loose rock on top of that is what really tested my wits.

And, yeah, I guess sagebrush = willows from hell. It was funny: At first, I was like, hey, these willows aren’t so bad. But they’re gnarly and nasty. Felt kinda’ like my legs were being scraped with a loofa at first ... then sandpaper.

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