From San Miguel PeakPosted On:
2020-08-02, By: supranihilestInfo:
This conditions report picks up from the summit of San Miguel Peak. The down climb off San Miguel to the saddle with "Lake Point" is mostly Class 2+ but on exceptionally loose rock that gets looser the closer you get to the saddle. It's not difficult but you should space yourself from other climbers and always pay attention to your hand and footholds. The ridge briefly returns to Class 2 on the chossy red rock, then there's a short Class 3 scramble around a bump on exceptionally loose rock. You might be able to skirt the bump but it would be on steep and loose talus. There's another short section of Class 2 here before the ridge kicks back and a short wall presents itself. Once again you might be able to skirt it but it would be on very steep, very exposed talus. The headwall is short, maybe 10-20 feet of Class 3, but it's exposed and loose as a goose. I struggled to find anything here that was solid, and had to make a high step around my waist to make the crux move. The rock here is awful, the kind of junk you can pull apart by hand. Press down on holds, don't pull on them. From here to the summit block is Class 2, and then the super neat, round summit block stares you in the face. It's mostly vertical walls about 20 feet high with no holds at all, but there are a few options; we swung around the right side and scrambled up a couple of broken blocks to the bottom of a V-shaped chimney with a deep crack in the back. The walls weren't totally smooth but weren't of much help as far as holds went so we simply wedged ourselves into the crack and shimmied up to a ledge about 8 feet off the ground, then scrambled to the summit. This was a few moves of mildly exposed Class 5.0-5.2 and a ton of fun. Gear and a rope would not be worth dragging up that far, as it was a very short, relatively easy, and relatively secure climb. It was one of those rare instances where it was easier to descend than ascend. The ridge to Sheep Mountain looked heinous and dangerous so we did not attempt Sheep.
To descend back to the Lake Hope Trail we went back a couple hundred yards on the ridge to a saddle and then down into the basin on steep talus. This stuff was pretty darn loose and there were some small, scruffy cliffs we had to avoid near the bottom but otherwise not difficult, just irritating. Snow took us part way down the basin and then there was more scree and talus, eventually leading to grass. Stay on the north (descender's left) side of the creek drainage or you'll likely find yourself cliffed out above very rotten and steep talus that dumps into the creek. Once on grass we just took steep, forested ledges and grass down until we eventually hit a cliff several hundred feet high, where we found a way across the creek to our right and then down more grass to the flats and eventually the trail.
This is a very rarely climbed peak but Whiley and I both agreed the summit block of "Lake Point" was the highlight of the day. It's super fun so if you're climbing San Miguel go climb "Lake Point" too!