Olancha Peak — Page 7

Pacific Crest Trail and Olancha Peak

VII. West Face Talus

It's 11:38 a.m. I've been expecting Olancha Peak from the west to be little more than a bump along the crest of the Eastern Sierra—an easy walk from the Pacific Crest Trail.

But here's the thing about looking at topo maps: sometimes they don't quite give you the whole picture. Trevor and I top a saddle just past a series of dry springs, and suddenly we get our first good view of Olancha Peak's southwest face. It's big. No: it's huge. And it's still probably a mile and a half away.

Olancha Peak's Southwest Face
Starting up the West Face
Talus
Higher

We both look at each other, each of us beginning to do time and distance calculations. After all, eventually we're supposed to turn around and somehow get ourselves back home—today.

Lunch break. Sure, my legs are fading, and my anxiety level is rising, but I've got a secret weapon: Pizza. That's right, I've packed several slices of real, honest-to-goodness pepperoni pizza, a salt and flavor extravaganza.

I've been thinking about those pizza slices for hours now, just waiting to unleash them upon my innards to supercharge my body. I'll just open up my pack here and pull them out of my lunch sack and...

Hey, where's my pizza?

I packed it up right here, didn't I? Maybe it's at the bottom of my pack? I'll just pull all this stuff out and—nothing. It must be in my lunch sack. Let me check again. And again. Nothing.

I have no pizza.

Somewhere, three slices of delicious pepperoni pizza are waiting, carefully and individually wrapped, but that somewhere is not here.

Oh crickey, I don't mean to get dramatic, but that was my lunch. I mean, what do I have left? Some cheddar bunnies and a scrap of cheese? I look again at Olancha Peak's west face, which has just grown significantly higher and farther. Well. We'll just have to carry on, I guess. Mental toughness, eh? Good training for Williamson. Now please excuse me while I go cry.

An hour later we're at last at the base of Olancha Peak. No trail here, just a few cairns leading into the thicket of a talus field. It'll be classic Sierra scrambling up big granite blocks from here, a good 1500 vertical feet from the look of it. I pep up a bit with the pleasures of climbing, the increasing views, and the nearing summit, but it's clear now that the return trip is going to be merciless.

next: Summit Prominence



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