Peak(s):  "V 9"  -  13,260 feet
Grizzly Pk B  -  13,738 feet
"V 10"  -  13,475 feet
Date Posted:  09/01/2018
Modified:  10/30/2019
Date Climbed:   07/29/2018
Author:  Marmot72
 South Mineral Sojourns 2: Grizzly B & V10  

Part two of two - was going to be three, but I never did write up the final day up Rolling Mtn. To view part one, click S Mineral Sojourns 1: V5, South Lookout

Moving camp from Clear Lake the prior afternoon, I was surprised at how full the S Mineral basin was - cars and tents everywhere. I managed to find a spot of relative solitude. Taking advantage of the extremely clear weather forecast, I slept in a bit later than probably advisable, and so did not start off on the trail from the Bandora Mine until around 6 am.

An old mining road, this trail proceeds at a gentle but steady pace to rise above the valley, and soon I enjoyed views of Rolling Mountain, painted red and gold by the rays of the newly-risen sun. To my surprise, I saw a solitary wooden shack in the middle of the upper basin; it appeared to be in good condition.

Below, the setting moon beyond Rolling Mountain along the excellent trail from the Bandora Mine.

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Moving efficiently up the road grade, I found myself at Hope Pass at 7:20.

Turning my attention to the left, I began the climb of the first peak for the day, V9.

Below, a view of the terrain early on up the ridge to V9.

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While the rock was suspect, it is not horrid, and the ridge is mostly class 2, so I enjoyed the change from the trail hike. Further up the ridge, I came to a steep and ominous downclimb, but the surface underfoot proved reliable and the difficulty kept to an easy class 3.

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After that, it was a cruise to the summit, which does not feel like a summit. The ridge leading westward toward V10 and San Miguel rises higher, and I had to look at my topo twice to confirm I was on the true summit, as there is no register.

San Miguel and Hope Lake from V9.

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View west from V9 summit, the convoluted ridges south of San Miguel, V10 left of center and Grizzly B left.

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V9 accomplished, I looked to the fastest way down to Cascade Basin. There is just no way to avoid steep ball-bearing and deadpan slopes that make the pockets of loose scree and talus seem like a break.

Once down in the basin, I was pleasantly surprised to find strong elk trails that aided progress through the willows, as I made an arc to the south toward Grizzly. Hearing of the difficulty posed by the cliffs on Grizzly’s western flank, I had considered returning back up Cascade Basin to V10, and so I studied the western side valley leading to the Grizzly-V10 saddle: nothing but bare rock. The slopes above looked miserable as well. I made the decision when I later noted it was 11 am and I still was not all that close to Grizzly B''s summit. Noting that it had taken me over an hour to navigate the basin in a downhill walk resolved my mind not to entangle myself here again going uphill.

In order to minimize my elevation loss, I did an ascending traverse from the basin onto Grizzly’s pine covered eastern slopes, and contoured beneath the cliffs. Part of this section involved some steeper climbing to weave between the sudden cliff on the peak’s southeast corner and the higher rock ramparts. After turning that corner and heading west-northwest toward the entrance gully, I found myself on the most fun terrain of the day, mixed grass and boulders. I gazed up at jagged columns and thought of the fun class 4 scrambling they assuredly offered, but not knowing the difficulty, I stayed on track for the standard route. I didn’t want to jeopardize V10.

Idyllic grass and granite and enticing false summit of Grizzly B on the upper south slopes.

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The lower part of the gully to the upper portion of Grizzly B.

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The boulder choked gully was not especially fun, but the slope above brought disappointment. I had just assumed the route above would involve some scrambling, given the soaring heights I had passed beneath, but the face just rolled up in a gentle rounded false summit of talus and dirt. I reached the top at 12:30. It had taken me 4 1/2 hours to get here from the summit of V9. My stomach growled.

As with V9, no summit register lay on Grizzly B, but the infamous conch shell was still there, so I took a rare selfie.

"Sorry, wrong number."

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I knew the ridge north to V10 didn’t go, but a slope off Grizzly’s northwest sub-summit didn’t look too bad. The problem was that, at one point, I could tell there was a steep drop, but I couldn’t tell how far. So, I resolved to retrace back toward the gully as others had done to find a way down through the cliffs.

Now along the western edge, an obvious gully greeted me and I avoided it, concluding that it must be the one Derek (Furthermore) had vaulted down years ago in his thirteeners quest, and then had to scramble back up. Further south, I found two more narrow gullies separated at the top by a tower, and I took the southernmost of these.

Cool tower that marks the entrance to the twin gullies.

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Vertebrae with lichen growing on it.

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About two-thirds of the way down, the gully became impossibly steep and inset, so I climbed onto a ledge. Thus began a tedious traverse of ledges and slabs, trending southward, to finally find a way down the cliffband. Negotiating this descent had consumed 50 minutes.

The upper gully, before I found it advisable to exit and begin navigating ledges.

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A look back after getting down from Grizzly. It doesn't look so bad. It's meaner than it looks.

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My “best case scenario” had involved a return to camp over Rolling Mountain, but that was no longer in the cards, as it was now just after 2. I moved ahead and found the way to V10 less difficult or tedious than expected: just a steady walk over mostly packed scree. Even side-hilling on the turn to the northeast to climb up to the V10 saddle was not all that unpleasant.

Once at the saddle, I followed a faint use trail on the eastern side of the ridge crest. Up higher, I found an easy ledge system on this side and decided to follow it instead of weaving up, down and around crumbly towers as others before me had done. This would come with a price later.

The ledges were super easy: mostly simple class two, but the material underfoot and any rock at hand to be grabbed for balance had to be tested. Still, I undoubtedly made swifter progress than the standard route and I soon found myself scanning for a way upward to gain the ridge. I chose my way up and regretted it after the first ten feet, when I realized I now stood upon a dirtschrund: the rock I had just scurried up was beneath a horizontal crack in the dirt spanning to both sides. I stood on a concave bulge that was pulling away from the mountain. Retreating seemed as treacherous as continuing, so I angled to my left to gain the aid of a protruding rock rib as I launched upward off this unsafe place. The rib proved as loose and shifty as the rock beneath my shoes and I scampered upward in a breathless burst of adrenaline. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be returning this way.

A shot of what I thought would be an easy path up. The "dirtschrund" is concealed in there, in the lower middle.

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After this harrowing minute or two, the terrain returned to sanity and I quickly found myself atop the ridge. I arrived at V10’s summit a few minutes after 4 pm. This peak has a register placed by Roger Linfield in 2014, and it has received few visitors since.

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San Miguel to the north made for a stunning view, and I also enjoyed the sight of the Vermillion group beyond. After enjoying 20-25 minutes of these rare vistas, I turned back down the ridge.

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While I didn’t want to re-encounter terrain like I had on the climb, I also sought to hasten my way down by finding a more direct way down to V10’s small basin to the east, instead of dealing with the vagaries of the southern ridge. At an intuitive low point a short ways from the upper ridge (and before where I had come up), I found a way down onto a network of class 2+ and class 3 ledges. This path worked out well, as it only took me a half hour from the summit down to the scree apron.

After this, I just made my way as quickly as I could down and across the seemingly unending talus toward Cascade Basin. The pass between Rolling and V9 appeared impossibly distant, but the skies were friendly.

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Somewhere between the eastern V10 talus basin and broad eastern part of upper Cascade Basin, I came to a serene pond and looked across it to the southeast to take in majestic and rugged aspects of Rolling Mountain's SW ridge. I would think this would be the small pond at Cascade's upper northern terminus, between 12k and 11.8k, except that the contour lines and distance between the pond and the ridge on the map do not line up to the picture. So I'm not exactly sure where I was.

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Descending into Cascade Basin brought an unanticipated joy, as I stumbled upon the authors of the trails I had enjoyed in the morning. The wind blew from the east, so the elk had not smelled me and I surprised them. A whole herd of does, some 40 or so.

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Moving deliberately at my weary-footed pace, I chuckled to see the elk moving as one unit this way and that up, down, and across upper Cascade Basin to avoid me. Before I could reach anywhere close to them, they trekked from the basin southward, right beneath Rolling Mountain, the terrain requiring them to spread out in a long line.

The elk long out of sight and my tired toes finally to the extent of the basin, I began the climb up to the V9-Rolling saddle. I tried to tell myself it would not be that bad, but it was horrid. Atrocious. Feet sliding back with each step, I actually managed to tweak a shoulder muscle with all of my exertion with the poles to keep from being escorted back downslope.

It was 7 pm and I was past the 13 hour mark. Hoping for an easy way down the eastern side of this ridge, I felt frustration to see only mess of boulders and slabs amongst dirt. It being the only way down that didn’t involve climbing another mountain, I allowed myself one “F” bomb before getting to work. It ended up not being that bad, especially compared to the western side.

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I completed the downclimb at 7:35, reached the Bandora mine trail 15 or 20 minutes later, taking a leisurely line to intercept it farther down the valley. Reaching my camp a little before nine, I enjoyed a bratwurst and beer dinner between 9:30 and 10, marveling at how the campers who crowded the valley earlier had nearly all disappeared.




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
CarpeDM

Great report, Steve!
09/01/2018 17:44
Engaging writing style and informative.


Vadim34

Nice
09/02/2018 14:15
Good write up Steve. I was there not long ago, such a beautiful area! I still need V10 out there, I think Rolling V9 saddle and then to V10 is the way to go! Well done.


Marmot72

Thanks!
09/03/2018 21:17
Thank you, Dave and Vadim. I think for a Grizzly-V10 combo, the long road to the southern approach is better, but, yes, Vadim, I would say for just V10, the Bandora Mine road approach is most expedient. For that, don't follow the trail all the way to the pass, but veer off into the easy meadow when you get a good close look.



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