Last Chance Mountain, Sandy Point


By: Steve Smith


After two postponements, the weekend of April 23-24 turned out to be beautiful weather for climbing Last Chance and Sandy. The group made both peaks, there was one new list finisher, one new DPS member, and four list finishers were on the trip.

Joe checked with the Lone Pine Ranger Station late Friday before the trip and they maintained their perfect weather forecasting record. They said that a major storm would cover the Last Chance Range Saturday and Sunday and we better not go. We went anyway and, except for about 30 mph winds on Saturday, the weather was perfect.

We met in Big Pine and caravaned through Eureka Valley and up the "jeep road" that ends just below Last Chance Spring. All cars made the trip in without difficulty except for Don Spark's Volvo, which scraped bottom on the "jeep road", so Don rode with someone else before any damage was done to his car.

Fourteen started and all finished the climb of Last Chance. The heavy precipitation this year brought the snow level down to about 6500', making for a delightful climb. The day was bright and clear with magnificent views of the east sides of the Inyos, Whites, and the Sierra Nevada. Magruder Mountain. (9460') was so beautiful with its mantle of snow that there was discussion of an exploratory trip to consider adding it to the DPS list.

It was still windy when we got down from Last Chance so we retreated about four miles west on the Eureka Valley road to an abandoned mine area and found level campsites fairly well sheltered from the wind. By the time the tents were up the group demanded that Joe uncork the champagne. Now he had to finish the list the next day.

With a warm glow inside and a warm campfire outside we sang songs while Sue Wyman played the guitar and Ron Jones provided rhythm accompaniment on the guitar case. The group sang a composition by Adrienne Knute, "Glory to McCosker," to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Terry Rivera also sang a lovely song composed for the occasion. The DPS poet laureate, Sherry Harsh, admitted to difficulty in finding words that rhymed with McCosker. Sherry came through by adding "on" to McCosker and finding rhymes with "McCosker on." The first verse was:

Said a climber named Joseph McCosker, on
Last Chance, "Sure it's lower than Huascaran,
But none of the peaks
That I've climbed these past weeks
Made me happier signing the roster on!"

Campy showed his agility at the campfire as well as on the mountains by dancing around, about, and over the fire. In the absence of Cuno, Don Sparks provided the puns.

We learned that Campy will be the next finisher. He has four to go, three distant Nevada Peaks and Baboquivari. Delores Holladay was runner-up in the list finisher to be competition.

Sunday was another beautiful day. Sandy is not a particularly interesting peak but views of the Sierra Nevada and the Desert Peaks were outstanding because of the heavy snowfall this year. Campy and Ski had to turn back before the peak because Ski had to work that evening but the other 14 made the peak. On top four DPS list finishers posed for a group picture: Steve Smith, Ron Jones, Norm Rohn, and Joe McCosker. Terry Rivera climbed her sixth peak and was entitled to become an official DPS member. The group got back to the cars a little after three.

While I, Joe, would like to take credit for finishing the list, credit really should go to the leaders who pushed, pulled, dragged, cajoled, threatened, and by other devious means got me up the peaks. Above all, to Duane McRuer who gave me the motivation to finish the list rather than continue climbing just for enjoyment. Thanks to Ron Jones for several leads and for getting my truck out of the sands of Orocopia and below Needle Mountain. I thank Steve Smith for fine leads of Sandy and Last Chance this weekend and for the many other peaks he has lead. And thanks to Bill T. Russell, Roy Ward, Campy, Gene Olsen, and many others. Betty and I hope to be able to see you and the other wonderful friends we have made in the DPS for many years to come.

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