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Ascent of Crystal Crag on 2021-07-06

Climber: Christopher Wessels

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Crystal Crag
    Location:USA-California
    Elevation:10377 ft / 3162 m

Ascent Trip Report

Past episodes of Planet Money kept my mind occupied on the long drive from San Francisco to Mammoth--a drive once again made longer by the fact that I had to drive over Sonora Pass instead of through Tuolumne. I arrived in Mammoth while Tracie and her family were still on their hike (near Lundy Canyon), so I had to decide what to do for the afternoon. My leg hadn't fully recovered from the riverboarding accident, so I thought I might take it easy and find a spot to fish. But seeing how close I was to Crystal Crag, and remembering how short of a hike it is, I found it hard to resist a return visit.

I remembered looking down the west side of the peak when I was there with Pat, and thinking that you could scramble up it just about anywhere. I decided to test that theory, seeing as I had already completed the south ridge twice before. After a short cross-country approach along the stream connecting Crystal Lake to Lake George, I headed toward what looked like the summit area from a random location near the base of the west face. A series of large ledges on good granite led me to the notch between the north and south summits. I tried climbing directly along the north ridge to the higher south summit, but I wasn't fully confident on account of the imperfect leg and the fact that this was my first time using the newly-finished Blackwing shoes. So I eventually backed off and descended 50 feet to traverse and climb back up to the summit directly from the west face. Overall I thought the scramble was easy and enjoyable and I was pleased with the performance of my Blackwings. This is a low risk, high reward climb that I think would make for an excellent introduction to class 3 scrambling.

I descended most of the south ridge until I found a west-facing sand/choss chute that led down to the vicinity of Crystal Lake. I brought my rod with me and made some casts in Crystal and later in Lake George, but nothing bit.

Car-to-car in about 4 hours. (Very rough estimate.)
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1498 ft / 456 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1498 ft / 456 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Just about perfect!
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1448 ft / 441 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 1348 ft / 410 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Loss on way in:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:1.3 mi / 2 km
    Route:West Face
    Start Trailhead:Lake George  9029 ft / 2752 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1398 ft / 426 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 1348 ft / 410 m; Extra: 50 ft / 15m
    Gain on way out:50 ft / 15 m
    Distance:1.9 mi / 3.1 km
    Route:South Ridge
    End Trailhead:Lake George  9029 ft / 2752 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Christopher Wessels
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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