Mount Inyo, Keynot Peak
By: Barbee Hoffmann, Scot Jamison
After a number of adds and cancellations and a few worries about the weather, 3 participants (Greg and Mirna Roach and Ellen Miller) and the leaders met at the trail head Saturday morning. We set off up the ridge with fantastic views of the moderately snow covered Sierras behind us and clear sky and dry trail in front on us. Earlier in the week we had worried that there would be snow in the Inyo mountains also, but a call to the ranger station indicated that the snow was not staying in the Inyo's. We were to discover over the weekend, that there was a limited amount of snow on the Northern slopes of a few canyons and near the summit of Keynot.
The backpack Saturday up to Bedsprings camp can only be described as a work out. The steep loose slope on the ridge makes climbing tough. We were all carrying enough water for two days so heavy packs didn't help on the loose slope either. Scot had warned everyone to bring ski poles to use as a walking stick on the scree. I did not elect to use a walking stick and I'd say those with ski poles faired better than I did going up.
A weary group reached Bedsprings mid-afternoon and after calculating the time required to climb Mt. Inyo we elected to nap in the sunshine rather than climb and get back to camp after dark. Saturday night was spent relaxing around the camp fire and enjoying happy hour/hors d'oeuvres/dinner.
Sunday morning the leaders were awaken around 5:15am to the sounds of restless climbers so we all ate a light breakfast and started up towards Mt. Inyo by 6:40. The weather was clear and crisp with light cirrus clouds forecasting a possible weather change. The summit of Mt. Inyo was reached by 8:30 am. Scot presented me with my DPS emblem pin and we all enjoyed a greet view and Ellen's famous zucchini bread.
The group then headed over towards Keynot. We encountered some snow on the northeast face about 400 feet below the summit. I was glad to have gaiters along as the snow was well over my boots. In addition a few of us had elected to wear our full leather boots which helped in the snow and took the abuse of the loose rock on the climb to and from Bedsprings better than light weight boots. Route finding was a bit touchy in the snow but even here the ever present ducks could be found. Round on the west side the ducked route is very easy to follow up to the summit.
On the route back to the vehicles we elected to run the scree slope down to the alluvial fan rather than hiking back down the ridge. The run down the scree is fast and fun, but bring your strongest knees or you will have a case of kneesles after this scree slope. Our 6.5 hour climb to bedsprings was reduced to a 2.5 hour return trip even with this leader's bad case of kneesles.
Camping at Bedsprings is very pleasant with fantastic views of the Sierras. I'd recommend backpacking these peaks once, if I go again I'II day hike the route to avoid carrying a pack up to Bedsprings. Our favorite parts of this trip were the climb from Bedsprings to the peaks and the scree run down.
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