New York Butte, Keynot Peak


By: Jim Powers


(Ed. Note: On the same weekend that the DPS was climbing Inyo via the standard route, a well-conditioned party of 8 was making a marathon traverse of all three high peaks of the southern Inyos. This is believed to be the first time this "triple traverse" has ever been successfully attempted, although a "double traverse" of NY Butte and Keynot has been done several times. We have asked Jim Powers to write up an account of this extended adventure.)

On the morning of May 2nd a party of eight "enthusiastic" climbers consisting of Ron Dickenson, George Sardina, Ben Romero, Jules Zetterbaum, John Otter, John ?, Bob ? and myself started up the trail from Dead Mule Springs in Long John Canyon to climb New York Butte. We had spotted one car at the base of Mt. Inyo since we intended to traverse the ridge from NY Butte to Inyo. Late afternoon found us on the summit of New York Butte admiring the fantastic view of the high Sierra crest in the afternoon sun. The climb had sapped the energy of the party and one member had already returned to the cars. Thus at 5:00 Saturday evening an early camp was made, even though we had only covered one third of the distance between NY Butte and Keynot.

We got an early start the next morning and spent several hours traversing the side of a minor peak through brush and talus. Much better progress would have been made if we had simply stayed on the ridge and gone over the minor peak. We started up the ridge to Keynot and quickly ran into some steep rock. After wasting 1-1/2 hours trying to get past this obstacle, we gave up and traversed the steep scree slopes on the east side of the ride until we were past the difficult section of the ridge and could regain the crest. Two members of the party decided to descend here and promised to meet us later at the oars. Future parties would waste less time if they simply resigned themselves to crossing scree and then staying low on the east side of the ridge for the first half mile.

We reached the summit of Keynot at 1:30 after an exhausting morning. We then descended into the saddle between Inyo and Keynot, where we left our packs. After climbing Inyo, we arrived back at the saddle at 5:00 p.m. By following the tracks left earlier in the day by a DPS party which bad climbed Inyo, we managed to find the proper descent route. Thanks to the long scree slopes, we were able to descend rapidly and arrived at the cars at 7:30 just as the sun disappeared behind the Sierra.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
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