(FIXED PICTURES!) Mount Senger (N#164, T#91), Gemini (N#165, T#92), Seven Gables (N#166, T#93), and Mount Hooper (N#167, T#94)
We apologize for the long delay in getting this report out. In an effort to keep trip reports coming, we experimented with Nathan writing this via dictation while on the trail. In the end, as you will have likely noticed, Nathan and Travis have recently dedicated their energy to the physical effort and have all but suspended written TRs. We'll likely hear much more from them as their effort concludes.
Nathan Day 107, Travis Day 52
I had been eager to do Seven Gables and Gemini after bailing on them following a raging snow storm at Lake Italy back in April. Logistically, I thought they'd be easiest to approach from Florence Lake on the west and combine with Mounts Senger and Hooper.
Travis and I hiked in and made camp near Muir Trail Ranch the evening before, after climbing Silver Peak. Our first peak of the day would be Mount Senger.
After a few easy miles on the PCT we left the trail and started a long, monotonous talus climb up the south side of Senger. I was feeling tired and fatigued and Travis quickly pulled away and out of view leaving me alone to slog up the endless talus. Before long my excitement rose as I entered the alpine.
Upon reaching the top we had a wonderful view of the next three peaks we'd be climbing that day and to Gabb and Hilgard beyond them.
To the south we eyed the Evolution region and towering in the distant east was Mount Humphreys. Wonderful, wonderful summit view.
Looking ahead, the line of our linkup appeared readily doable. So, after a few minutes on the summit, we dropped off the east face towards Gemini. Easy scrambling and scree skiing made for a smooth descent for the first 95%… and then we got cliffed out.
Dense, scrubby, alpine pine tree made it especially tricky. Picking our way through the trees, we climbed down into one exposed dropoff after another. Eventually we resorted into a shwacky traverse dangling ourselves from one pine tree to the next until we finally escaped.
Onward to Gemini.
The climb up Gemini was fun and easy – mostly nice granite slab walking with some snow patches. After a tricky talus scramble near the top we reached the summit and a view of day's next peak: Seven Gables.
The south face of Seven Gables looked steep, loose, and intimidating. We knew it would be a grunt but we were making good time so we continued in good spirits. Unfortunately, our expectations of steep and loose were well met. We picked our way up the scree while dodging the occasional sliding block and found our way to more solid and steep climbing.
It culminated in an engaging little boulder problem. Travis launched into the finger crack lieback and mantled up to the summit.
The summit block of Seven Gables is incredible.
It's an open, flat summit area with a plank dangling off one edge. As you walk the plank, it narrows to a foot wide and drops on three sides down to a steep bowl off the north face.
It's a mindbending experience looking down into the abyss.
We took turns walking it and enjoying the exposure and the rest of the summit views.
An easy descent down the north face brought us down the beautiful Medley Lake basin – a lovely alpine basin with many little lakes and winding granite walkways amongst them.
We eventually encountered an obstacle between us and our last summit: the largest lake in the basin, Marie Lake.
Bypassing the lake in either direction would likely add a mile of walking, not something either of us were excited about. Travis pointed out an improbable looking line of islands across the middle of the late… maybe we could just go right through it? I found the idea dubious but worth investigating.
Surprisingly, we found the first channel was shallow and we were able to wade across to the first island. It turned out our string of islands but an improbably twisty, partially submerged land bridge to the far side of the lake. We were postively gleeful with our easy crossing.
We were now free to continue toward our last peak, Mount Hooper, looming high and mighty to the west.
We wound our way up on islands of granite separated this time by patches of posthole-y snow. Gingerly hopping from one to the next we made our way to the high pass on the eastern shoulder of Hooper.
Above the pass, a vertical wall blocked progress onto the east ridge, our intended line of ascent. After a brief investigation of the traverses on either side we opted to send the proud line and climb directly.
We found a couple of fun, if loose, easy 5th class pitches.
Once atop the ridge we navigated an enjoyable series of balanced blocks and fins all the way to the summit area. Hooper presented another excellent summit block, a large flat piece of stone balanced on the pinnacle of the peak, as if the mountain was wearing a little fedora on its giant rocky head.
A few cruxy moves later, we were on top of the mountain's hat enjoying expansive summit views for one last time.
The sinking afternoon sun illuminated the towering peaks to the east, many of which we'd already climbed, and so many more which we would be facing in the near future. So many wonderful adventures to come!
In the rosy light of sunset, we descended the south face, winding our way down through the forest and back to the trail. It had been a successful, smooth, and thoroughly enjoyable day and as we walked back down the trail we reveled in how fortunate we were to be in such a beautiful place, doing what we love most, day in and day out.
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