By: Dick Ramirez
The trip did not start at 6:00 am as indicated. It was postponed till 7:00 am. However, I was aware of the car parralleled to mine at 5:30 am, when I noticed the back part of the interior engulfed in flames. By the time I was out of my car and over to Dick Banner's vehicle, he was successful in getting his stove out of the car. With the excitement at that time in the morning I was sure I would not return to slumberland. However, 7:00 am arrived with me jumping out of my bag and rousting the people out of their cars and kilns. A forty minute late start saw 13 climbers get off to a cheerful start. We took a short cut up to the road about 3/4 of a mile from Mahogany Flats. I had decided not to take the trail as it might be engulfed in snow and ice.
At the relay station we decided to contour to the east of Mt. Bennett, as the trail seemed to be snowbound. A previous climber's footsteps in the snow made our way much easier until we ran out of snow, then that damned scree made contouring rather tough.
At the big saddle between Bennett and Telescope, we left a member of our party. That person promised to remain until we returned. A steady pace with the usual rests put us on the peak at 2:00pm. We donned our crampons for the last 800'. The weather was magnificent. The views of the Sierras thru a telescope carried by Jack Koshear, showed us details of Mt. Whitney.
At 3:45 we descended at a moderate pace. When we reached the saddle, where we left the one climber, we found no one. We called out and delayed approximately 45 minutes before I decided we must assume the climber returned to the oar. We left with a note at a trail post. I dispatched one group over Mt. Bennett and the rest took the trail. We could make out one set of prints returning to the cars and where they left the trail to return over Mt. Bennett. Just below the relay station we rejoined the rest and were informed that the climbers name was written in the snow, so we felt somewhat assured.
Coming up, the ridge west of the road appeared to be a quicker way of descending to the road to Mahogany Flats from the Kilns. On the way down we descended this ridge finding that it was not as promising as thought. We stayed on the ridges back for quite a while till we were able to view the Kilns and our cars. Had there not been snow, this ridge would have played havoc with our legs and feet. Upon reaching the Kilns we were relieved to find the prodigal climber.
The exhilarating climb, the fantastic weather and magnificent views were exceeded only by the fine, congenial climbers in the group.
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