September 28th, 2002|
~24 miles RT
We were planning to leave early on Friday, so we could get early at the Symmes Creek trailhead and get some hours of sleep. Unfortunately, due to some logistic problems, we got to trailhead at midnight. The drive to the trailhead is straight forward and it can be done in the dark (directions at climber.org/DrivingDirections/shepherd.html). Note that the segment beyond the stock trailhead is not appropriate for cars with little clearance (for reference it was OK for a 2002 Ford Taurus).
Although the weather forecast was not that bad (20% chance of afternoon thunderstorms), we decided to get an early start to be in the safe side. Nothing in the forecast pointed to the big snow storm that blanketed the East Sierra with snow.
After just three short hours of sleep, we woke up at 3am and started hiking at 3:30am.
I don't remember much of the hike up... I guess I only started waking up when we got to Anvil camp... At that moment, the weather started turning on us with frozen rain starting at 9000ft and snow just under 10000ft. After 5 1/2 hours of hiking we got to Shepherd Pass, but the snow was blowing hard and visibility was about 50 feet. A nice treat was to see a group of deers very close by as we were waiting for the rest of the group at the pass. After just 30mins, there was about 3 inches of snow on the ground and visibility had dropped to 30 feet, so we decided to turn around. A painful decision after doing 80% of what it takes to get to the (invisible) summit of Mt. Tyndall.
After a leisure descend, we got to the cars at around 3pm. We had a nap and headed to Bishop for an earlier dinner. We then drove half way to the Bay Area (we camped at The Pines in the Stanislaus National Forest).