5/05/2022 7:10:00 pm, Nathan

Mount Rixford (N#81, T#14) and Mount Bago (N#82, T#15)

Nathan Day 63, Travis Day 7

Fresh snow coated the talus slopes above us as Travis and I postholed our way towards Kearsarge Pass. Our packs were full and heavy, threatening to topple us with each slippery misstep.

A short but intense storm had enveloped the Sierra two days previous, and it was quickly becoming evident that it had dropped much more snow than we’d hoped.

At the top of the pass we met a pair of ski mountaineers and a pair of PCT hikers – quite the contrast. I eyed the skiers’ gear longingly, but knew that travel would be equally tedious for them – from a skier’s perspective, the new snow simply obstructed exposed obstacles from view, stuck to gear, and made for punchy, tough skiing.

We continued over the pass and into the picturesque alpine basin beyond. Our first peak for the day, Rixford, would have been an easy talus scramble only a few days prior. Now, however, it was a mess of wet, slushy rock and mud.

We slogged on up, slowly picked our way through the final bit of third class, and finally tagged the summit.

Looking around at the snowy scene, doubt began to creep into my mind. The climb up Rixford had taken twice as long as it would have in dry conditions. To successfully climb all 21 peaks that I had planned for this trip, a drastic improvement in pace would be necessary. I caught myself slipping into thoughts of bailing, salvaging what we could from the slushy mess. I pushed the thoughts away, steeling my resolve, determined to focus on one peak at a time.

We slipped and slid back down to the trail and continued on towards Bago, our second peak of the day.

Despite its small stature in comparison to other nearby peaks, Bago provides epic views of the north face of Brewer, down the upper reaches of Kings Canyon, and around the Kearsarge Pass area.

After a long slog through the deep snow, culminating in some easy scrambling and knee-deep postholing to the summit, we stood on the summit, reveling in the awesome views.

We returned to camp just before dark, going to bed early, a definite feeling of concern for the long days ahead weighing on our minds and already tired bodies.

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