Ascent to The Thumb-NW side of Birch Lake on 2017-09-26

Climber: Rafee Memon

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:The Thumb - NW side of Birch Lake
    Elevation:11200 ft / 3413 m
    Remaining Elevation:2156 ft / 657 m (30% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

I went to bed the night before feeling not great, but nevertheless I set a 4:45am wake-up time from Big Pine. I snoozed an hour, which was the first of a few failures. After making the right turn off of McMurray Meadows Road (it is now clearly marked as "BIRCH TH") the road very quickly became impassable to my rental Nissan Sentra. I was forced to reverse about a tenth of a mile back to the intersection, after which I drove back about another tenth of a mile to an area where two other cars were parked. I walked the mile to the trailhead and started at 7:25am. I did a fair amount of wandering through fields before I found the trail going up the ridge, which I found with the help of my GPS. After about two and a half hours, I spotted a campsite in the valley below me to the south next to a spring. After about another half an hour the trail quickly deteriorated into a miserable, miserable bushwhack. I reached the outlet of Birch Lake just after 11:00am. The route around the south end of the lake leading to the southeast face of the Thumb had a little too much snow for what I was prepared for (from the early season snowstorm a few days before) so I determined that I would need to boulder hop around the north end of the lake and work my way up the ledges to the class 3 chute. At 11:50am, I estimated that it would take at least another two hours to make the ascent, which would put me back at my car around 9:00pm, so I decided to turn around. When I reached the outlet of Birch Lake, I met a group of four flyfishermen who turned out to be the campers that I saw earlier. They recommended in order to avoid the bushwhack to descend the boulder field directly under the lake, boulder hop around the swamp, and descend a chute to their camp, after which a trail leads up the ridge back to the trail. This turned out to be good advice; the boulder hopping was a bit taxing, but not nearly as much as the bushwhack. I left Birch Lake around 12:30pm and I was back at the trailhead at 3:20pm and my car at 3:40pm.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5021 ft / 1530 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5021 ft / 1530 m
    Distance:20.5 mi / 33 km
    Start Trailhead:Birch Creek TH  6179 ft / 1883 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rafee Memon
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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.

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