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Well, this previous weekend we attempted to do a double 14er weekend in the Sierras. Unfortunately, it's our first mountain weekend that's defeated us...

We left Redondo Beach at 5:15am on Friday, and arrived at the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine, CA around 10:00am. We got the last 3 overnight permits for the day, for 3 nights out of Shepherd's Pass trailhead.  After a quick bite at Alabama Hills cafe (awesome breakfast and lunch to load up before a long weekend), we drove down some of the wrong, rarely used 4x4 trails to get to the Shepherd's pass hiker trailhead.

At 12:30pm, we were on the trail and within 15 minutes finding ourselves jumping out of our boots and socks for our first water crossing.  We were able to bypass the 2nd and 3rd crossings via a use trail on the north side of Symmes creek, and then had to de-boot for the 4th crossing. This was the end of any easy hiking, and we began up 55 switchbacks and 2500 feet to a series of 3 saddles, and then dropped back down 500 feet to Mahogany Flats.  

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At this point, we were fairly exhausted and had been taking it easy (now being at 9000 feet and having slept at sea level only 12 hours before).  However, the campsites had poor water access, so we pushed on to Anvil Camp. This entailed our first snow/ice crossings, and I whipped out the ice axe, with Andrew comfortably using poles.  We arrived at 10,300 foot Anvil Camp after 8 miles and over 4000 feet of gain, then set up camp and made a quick meal of fajitas before going to sleep just after dusk. 

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We awoke casually on Saturday and were packed, fed, and on the trail by 9am. By 11am we were at Shepherd's pass, at over 11500 feet and 4 miles up many snow crossings. At this point I already had the gaiters on and ice axe out, but now I needed to put on the crampons like everyone else and proceed to climb Shepherd's pass 

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 After reaching the top of the pass, we dropped our packs, searched for water as all the lakes were frozen over, and found a trickle of snowmelt about 10 minutes away from our packs. After setting up camp, eating lunch, and repacking light, we proceeded toward Mt. Tyndall, our first 14er objective of the weekend. We filled up our water on the way, and began climbing the endless talus. Marie started getting nauseous and signs of altitude sickness, and after slowing down signficantly, we got to 13,600 feet where she stopped. The other two of us proceeded to the top of the ridge, at 13880 feet and discovered a false summit which would require another 30-40 minutes to navigate around to the true summit. As a result, we snapped those pictures at the false summit, turned around, and slowly backed down the mountain. Once we made it back to camp around 7:30pm, we had a chat with some others staying at Shepherd's pass, then made food and hit the sack. 

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Sunday morning we were still not feeling great, after our first true exposure to altitude sickness, and so we decided to play it safe and hike back out to the trailhead.  We made it out with no issues and got home late that evening.

 
 
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Mt. Lyell is the tallest peak in Yosemite NP at 13114 feet, and regarded by many peakbaggers as having some of the most impressive views of the Sierras based upon it's proximity to many other highpoints (with the others being Mt. Brewer in King's Canyon and Mt. Hoffman in Yosemite near May Lake). 

For this trip, Marie and I camped out along Hwy 120 at one of the many small Inyo NF campgrounds on the east entrance, and met up with Aaron at the ranger station early the next morning. We were easily able to nab a walk up permit for backpacking via Lyell Canyon from the Tuolomne Meadows Trailhead. After organizing our gear, we set off for our base camp at the upper portion of Lyell Canyon, just below the tree line. There were 3 or 4 campsites on the west side of the river, which provided plenty of ample water flow still in early September. 

The next morning we awoke leisurely, as the peak was only a few miles away at this point, and hiked up to Lyell pass, the edge of Yosemite NP, before turning west towards the peak. The approach was mostly clear of boulders until the last mile, which began turning into dense scree. We passed a couple who had turned around for fear of some ominous storm clouds, but we were keeping a watchful eye on them the whole time, and in fact didn't hear our first bit of thunder or see any lightning (on another, very distant peak) until we had actually reached our own summit. 
When we reached the large Lyell glacier, we immediately wished we had crampons in our packs, as the trip around them to the north added easily an extra 30 minutes over just climbing straight up the glacier to the final summit approach. There was a point at which due to the distance and perspective of the mountain, it seemed impossible to scale without ropes, and had it not been for Marie pushing us along, we would have never summited. Sure enough, she was right (as she always is) and we found the final summit climb very easy with minimal exposure. The summit was beautiful, and showed an impressive set of afternoon storm clouds in the distance which caused us to go back down with haste. We reached our basecamp well before dark, and leisurely packed out the next day, making for a very enjoyable and relaxed backpacking trip to a beautiful summit.