Climbing Sawtooth Peak, Sequoia NP

6:24 p.m. on July 15, 2012 (EDT)
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Friday afternoon I went on an overnight trip to climb Sawtooth Peak in Sequoia National Park.  The trail starts at Mineral King in the south end of the park.  As we approached Mineral King, we could see Sawtooth standing proud


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Friday night we ascended to lower Monarch Lake to camp, and as we started up the trail we could look down at Mineral King valley


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Here is the camp as the sun went down


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Yesterday morning we got up early to head for the summit.  The first 1200' vertically (to the pass at 11,600') was a slog up a sand/gravel slope and very tiring.  Here is the peak from Sawtooth Pass


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From there the going was easier, and we made it to the summit without any trouble.  One of the reasons I like Sawtooth is because it is a very small summit, only as big as my living room, so you feel like you are really on top of something.  Here is part of the group on top; the two nearest people are father and son (the kid is 10 years old) on their first real hike in their entire lives.  They both did quite well and enjoyed it a lot.


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Views from the top; first, NE toward the Kaweahs


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South


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And east toward the Whitney group


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The summit is a nice boulder scramble, this is the group coming down from the top


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On the way down we took a different route to go by upper Monarch Lake, which is very photogenic


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One final look back at Sawtooth on the way back down


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1:25 a.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Nice, solid looking rock to climb on. Great trip!

11:01 a.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
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Oh, I am quite jealous! It looks like a really wonderful climb, and a beautifully clear day for it as well :) 

8:39 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for the report - and great photos!

I'd love to explore the Mineral King area, but I stay away because I've heard too many stories about the marmots there.  Coming back to find the rubber parts of my vehicle chewed up would be really unpleasant.

8:53 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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WOW! I would LOVE to do that!

11:40 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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The marmots at Mineral King have a well-earned reputation, but by the end of July they move uphill away from the trailheads and are not as much of a problem.  One time I went there in late May, and put a chicken wire fence around my car, anchored with big rocks all the way around.  But the marmots were smarter, and climbed up the chicken wire until they got to the top and their weight pulled the top away from the car; then they were home free.  I got back down to my car to find a marmot chewing on the insulation on the firewall.  At least that one didn't start on the belts or hoses (of course, I had spare belts and hoses in my trunk).

If you go late in the summer - mid August or later - there is no significant risk at the trailheads.

12:22 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Beautiful hike! And gorgeous views!

What kind of rock is it? Looks pretty solid, although the scree slopes seem just as tricky, but I do see some softer-looking aggregate. All we get in the Canadian Rockies is crumbly limestone, which can be treacherous to climb through.

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Love this shot - says it all about camping in the mountains.

12:41 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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> The marmots at Mineral King have a well-earned reputation, but by the end

> of July they move uphill away from the trailheads and are not as much of a

> problem.

Then that sounds like the perfect place to go explore this fall, when I've built up my hiking strength from the JMT trip :).

[hmmm, the strike-out font doesn't work.  It works in the composition box, but is un-done once the message is posted]

3:33 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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lambertiana,

 outstanding report!

So is your big trip still in the works? I can't begin to tell you the consternation your open invite in the trip planning forum caused in my little household. I looked over the logistics a dozen times and I just can’t make it work this year. But oh man..... 

3:59 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Peter - Most of the Sierras are granite or granodiorite, with a little diorite and gabbro thrown in occasionally.  Sawtooth Peak itself is part of the Coyote Pass Granite pluton (geology is my true love in life).  You can see some darker rocks in some of those pictures, they are primarily schist derived from triassic marine ash deposits, but there is a little partially metamorphosed limestone and a few bands of true marble.

I used to hike a lot on limestone in Utah, but it was good solid rock there.  I would love to be able to spend some time up in your neck of the woods in the Banff/Jasper areas.  From the pictures you have posted, it looks like there is a fair amount of shale mixed in with the limestone, and shale is not as solid.

Patman - Yes, I leave Friday morning for the big trip.  I have room on the permit, get here by early Friday morning and you're in.

Giftofgab - I do trips like this out of Mineral King regularly, you should tag along.  My house is an eight hour drive from Vegas.  In fact, this trip was originally planned specifically so one of my hiking friends would finally get a shot at Sawtooth.  Due to issues at work, he had to bow out at the last minute.  We may end up doing it again later this year, or next summer for sure.

5:02 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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lambertiana said:

Peter - Most of the Sierras are granite or granodiorite, with a little diorite and gabbro thrown in occasionally.

...

I would love to be able to spend some time up in your neck of the woods in the Banff/Jasper areas.  From the pictures you have posted, it looks like there is a fair amount of shale mixed in with the limestone, and shale is not as solid.

 Ah, granite! NICE! 

The best we can do here is maybe a bit of dolomite down in the southern Rockies. You have a good eye - the rest is limestone/shale with sandstone/siltstone and some metamorphic sedimentary stuff tossed in here and there. The actual upthrust folds are limestone/shale. Pretty crumbly and touchy if you're scrambling or climbing.

11:48 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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Giftofgab - correction, it is a six hour drive from Vegas to my house.

10:17 a.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
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Man, I somehow missed the invitation for your big trip! 

I wouldn't have been able to make it, even had I noticed, but WOW what a great trip.  I am not quite in shape for that heavy of a trip yet, nor do I have the vacation days to swing it, unfortunately. 

I really enjoyed your report from the last time you went. Truly fantastic. 

Have a great time! 

December 18, 2014
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