Mount Stanford, South (#30) and Mount Morgan, North (#31)
Day 25, Mount Stanford North and Mount Morgan North
After my sloggy, moist day on Morgan (S) the day before, I was ready for colder temps and sunny skies for climbing the other Morgan (N) and Stanford. The two peaks are separated by a couple miles of third class ridgeline, which I planned to negotiate with skis in tow to facilitate a loop, starting up Stanford and ending in a ski descent of the SW face of Morgan.
I started hours before dawn, to ensure that I would be high on the ridge long before the snow liquefied again. I was pleased to find that there had been a proper freeze overnight, and travel was smooth and easy. The climb towards Stanford went well, and I was treated to another glorious Sierra sunrise, the morning rays illuminating countless striking granite buttresses and incredible looking couloirs.
With ski crampons, I was able to skin up the steep sections that I had been anticipating having to transition to booting for, which was a lovely surprise. Everything went off without a hitch, until just below the summit of Stanford -- in my haste to keep the momentum going, I scrambled up the wrong high point!
On the bright side, it featured a neat little fin of rock as its summit block. It wasn’t until I was fully astride this rocky perch until I realized my error. Fortunately, it only added a few extra minutes to my day, and before long I was on the true, albeit much less interesting summit. The views, on the other hand, were very interesting -- especially of the east face of Red and White mountain.
What a line!! It’s steep, sustained, and looks to be skiable right now! I had hoped to ski it for this project, but assumed it would be out of shape, like so many other classic steep lines are this winter. Very interesting…
I admired the rest of the soaring peaks in every direction, including the White Mountains, living up to their name with a fresh coat of snow, then set to work on the ridge.
It was slow and tricky with skis and boots on the pack, but once I became re-acquainted with the awkward bulk and weight, it was quite manageable and enjoyable. I wasn’t in any particular hurry to get to Morgan, as I wanted to give my line plenty of time to soften up. The sun was bright, but there was a cool breeze and I knew it would take some time still. I enjoyed the meditative movements weaving over and around the sharp granite flakes.
I did my best to stay on the true crest, both for the endless views and the proud line, and summited a handful of unnamed peaks along the way.
I spend a few hours negotiating the ridge, and by early afternoon was on the summit of Morgan.
Here I relaxed for a little longer, soaking in the vista one last time, then dropped in on the wide gully that ran for thousands of vertical feet below me.
The snow was still firm and punchy up top, but gradually improved as I made my way down the line, finally morphing to perfect corn for the final third. The exit was rough, as expected, and the skis came off more than once as I did my best to link the few remaining ribbons of snow on the sun-burnt face. Eventually I glided out onto the ice of Davis Lake, then turned and admired the towering peak which I had just descended.
My hungry stomach quickly sent me packing, and I pointed the skis onward towards the van, dinner, and sleep.
View the activity here.