Ascent of Cartago Peak on 2015-05-02

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, May 2, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cartago Peak
    Elevation:10480 ft / 3194 m

Ascent Trip Report

From the summit of Olancha Peak, I decided to head for Higgins Lake based on the fact that all the streams were dry and that was the only water I could see on the map. Descending off Olancha, I encountered a few scattered snow patches. Certainly not a hindrance to navigation. When I arrived at Higgins Lake, a rancid cesspool awaited me. It was not water that I felt would be safe to drink. Another lesson learned for the Sierra Nevada - bring a filter instead of tablets. Mistake made. Most of my previous Sierra Nevada hiking has been done further north and in wetter years. When I lived in Washington, I never carried more than a liter of water because I was never more than a mile from good streams. Ah, California again... I left Higgins Lake without a top-off or giardia.

I ditched my gear off the PCT at the bottom of a decent-looking gully. I took a daypack to the summit from here. There are some bushes to navigate here and there, but nothing too bad. Once you reach the upper part of the mountain, it is quite a bit of wandering to the summit. The summit is a pile of rocks, so some fun, easy scrambling to the top. On the descent, I nearly took the wrong gully, but changed course when I realized that I was off route.

Once I returned to my gear and re-packed everything, I headed due west towards Templeton Mtn. By the time I was headed across the beautiful meadows and open forests, the sun was beginning to get low on the horizon and I was down to half a liter of water. My initial plan was to carry over Templeton Mtn and camp on the west side. I assumed that I would be dry camping again. For water I had 2 options: 1) South Fork of the Kern River or 2) Camp where I planned and hike up to the snow patches on Kern Pk to melt snow with my stove during my ascent in the morning.

Luckily, as I arrived at the Kern River I found salvation! Water was flowing!! Not much though. I could straddle the river where I crossed it with both feet dry. Certainly enough to fill all of my bottles. I believe that this is abnormal for the Sierra Nevada in the first week of May... As it was getting dark, I figured that it would be best to make camp near my current location where I could get within striking distance of the trail up Kern Pk, and be in a place where I could gather camp on my way back across the Kern River.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1480 ft / 451 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1480 ft / 451 m
    Route:SW Gully
    Start Trailhead:9000 ft / 2743 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: South Sierra '15 (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Olancha Peak2015-05-02 a6283 ft / 1915 m
2Cartago Peak2015-05-02 b1480 ft / 451 m
3Kern Peak2015-05-03 a2800 ft / 853 m
4Templeton Mountain2015-05-03 b2280 ft / 695 m
Total Trip Gain: 12843 ft / 3914 m    Total Trip Loss: 1000 ft / 305 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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