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Hiking Stats as of 11/14/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Aug 3, 2013 - Price, Mount / Agassiz, Mount

 

Partners: Kyle Breen

Distance: 14.49 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,761 feet

Trip Time: 8:23

Maps and Stats:
Kyle and I had not been on a hiking trip since out visit to Mt. Whitney over a month prior, and with our Mom getting married the following weekend out in South Carolina we knew if we didn't do something it would likely be a few more weeks before we could find the time again. We have deveoloped a somewhat informal routine - when I go by myself I head for peaks further south and when we go together we look for mountains in proximity to Highways 80 or 50 since those are easily accessable for Kyle. We decided upon a visit to the Crystal Range of the Sierra Nevada, just West of Lake Tahoe off Highway 50. I had been here in the winter for a memorable snowshoe/climb up Pyramid Peak, and the Crystal Range has 2 other peaks of virtually identical height which were today's target - Mt. Price and Mt. Agassiz. Time permitting, we would also attempt Pyramid Peak, although we did not carry high hopes since we didn't want to start too early.

We met up at the Target in Rancho Cordova off U.S. 50 at around 9:30 and were at the trailhead a little before 11 AM. The first several miles of the trail were extremely gentle and easy, rising maybe 1,000 feet in about 4.5 miles. Most of this was through the forest, although once we hit the boundry of the Desolation Wilderness we started getting more rocks and granite and the slope angle increased. At the 4.5 mile mark we took the trail towards Lyons Lake and the start of our loop. The Lyons Lake trail is barely a trail at all, as we mostly scrambled up rockfalls and generally made our way uphill until we found Lyons Lake.

We paused to rest at Lyons Lake for a bit as we tried to determine the best way up the mountain to get to Mt. Price. There was a long slope of granite slabs in front of us, and while it looks easy to just head on up the problems are that there are various cliffs and rockfalls that needed to be avoided. We decided to follow the drainage as best we could, which was a landscape of tall grass intermixed with giant boulders. This part of the journey was the steepest of the day, and we paused several times to enjoy the views and to collect our breath as we approached the 9,000 foot level.

Unfortunately, the drainage led to a ridgeline that would not connect to the ridgeline we needed, so we had to cross the little stream and head up the tall granite slabes. The route finding in this area was not that difficult - our general direction was up after all, but the size of the slabs and rocks were sometimes a bit challenging. On the final approach to the ridgeline the bouders became a bit more manageable and we navigated upwards with ease, although the steepness was still very difficult. We saw a couple of marmots up at this high elevation, although since I had forget my regular camera I was relegated to using my iPhone to try to get some good pictures of them.

We crested on the ridgeline and were immediatley struck by the sight of Mt. Agassiz to the north, which was to be our second objective on the day, with its nice, airey summit. But for now, we were headed to Mt. Price, and a pretty easy talus field paved the way for this ascent. We made quick work of the scree field and were treated to simply amazing 360 degree views from the summit. We had not expected the summit to be so tiny, which afforded us these fantastic views. To the north we saw Pyramid Peak and Mt. Agassiz, to the south we could see the remaining snow on the east side of the ridge, to the east was Lake Aloha and to the Northeast the view of the ridgeline over towards Pyramid Peak. We found the summit register and logged our names before posing for the obligatory summit shots - first me then Kyle. The views from this summit rival those of any summit I have been on to be sure, so I took the time to capture the scene in this video.

With one summit under our belts it was time to head on over to Mt. Agassiz to bag a second one. Along the way we fell victim to one of our major weaknesses - we saw an awesome looking overhang on the ridgeline and decided we had to see what it might look like up on top. So Kyle waited while I ascended the peak and posed for some pretty cool shots. Then I retraced my steps back and Kyle took his turn on top We probably lost about a half hour pursuing these silly festivities but it was fun and they add to the enjoyment of the adventure so we will keep on doing these sorts of things. With the playtime over, we set our sights back on Mt. Agassiz, looming overhead like a cresting wave. We split up for the ascent, with Kyle taking a roundabout path while I decided to head straight up the boulder field. Kyle's route proved to be vastly superior, as I spotted him well above me as I emerged from some dense vegetation. As I made my way upward he found himself on the final giant summit blocks, looking for a way to the top. I had read that the summit blocks were class 5, with a class 2 path on the south side of the blocks. Kyle tried the south side, didn't like it, and found an easy class 2 way up on the north. I followed suit and were were soon on the summit of Mt. Agassiz. The summit, despite its appearance when viewed from Mt. Price, is large enough to feel comfortable on and very flat. We dropped our gear and started getting pictures. The view of the ridgeline that we traversed from Mt. Price, the lingering snowfields, Lake Aloha and Pyramid Peak were my favorite views. We signed the summit register and took the obligatory summit shots (Kyle and myself) and made the decision to call it a day and head down the mountain.

Heading down would present some new challenges - there were no trails and we were planning on descending by a route different than our ascent route and hooking back up with the trail at Lake Sylvia. This would involve starting a traverse over to Pyramid Peak, but then dropping off the ridgeline and heading down the mountain until we could find the trail. We began the descent and noting the steep drop off decided to cirle around towards Pyramid Peak and taking the more gently sloping slabs from the lower ridgeline. Our destination for this part of the journey was a small lake at the base of Pyramid Peak which seemed to be a long ways away. The descent was not as difficult as we initially feared, by making the circular trek we kept it an easy class 2 the whole way down. We found a nice drainage leading down to the lake and followed it down. After coming down from all that rock, the display that the wildflowers in the drainage offered were even more striking. Soon were were at the lake and pretty confident that we would not have too many problems finding the trail which was still 1,000 feet lower. From the lake we descended down the next ridgeline and into the forest below. After another mile or so we found the trail and were on our way back to the trailhead. This was a seemingly endless walk of another 4.5 miles back, with the only interruption this giant downed tree We made our way back to the car as the sun set on another fine day in the Sierra.

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