“Hhuuuuggggghh!!” I groaned as I hoisted my pack onto my shoulders. The pack was larger than my torso, and Joel estimated that it was somewhere around 70lbs. I could tell that the 3,400 ft gain to our campsite was going to be a little tough with such a heavy pack. Joel and I had come up to Lone Pine with ambitious plans – camp at Meyson Lakes and the following day climb Mt LeConte, traverse to Corcoran, and bag Mts Mallory & Irvine on our way back to camp.
Normally I don’t pack so heavily, but this trip involved a lot of unknowns, and we brought enough gear to deal with every one that concerned us. Most of our concerns were regarding the waterfall pitch. Every report on SP stated that its class 3 rating was underrated, and someone on the site had mentioned that it would probably be even worse with snow cover. I couldn’t tell from the photos how hard it was, how high it was, or how exposed it was. In response, I decided to bring a rope and a little bit of pro, in case we wanted to protect the pitch. Since we had no idea how much it would be covered with snow and ice, Joel and I also brought our ice tools in addition to our crampons, helmet, rope, pro etc. and whatever gear we thought we’d need for two days of snow camping.
We had a leisurely start, parking our car along the Whitney Portal road and descending down through the campground to reach the trailhead to Meyson Lakes around 9am. From there we followed the discontinuous trail as it traveled between some cabins, before ascending above them and contouring around the ridge. After some switchbacks we entered Meyson Canyon, following the bare trail as it traversed the north slopes. I was surprised at how nice the trail really was – wide, flat, and mostly clear of rocks and roots.
As we hiked higher, Lone Pine Peak towered above us to the south, and for entertainment I examined its slopes for possible lines of ascent. Occasionally we crossed a tongue of old avalanche debris that had persisted on the barren slopes, making for an interesting balancing act of kick-stepping in the snow while controlling such heavy packs – one you start tipping one way, its REALLY hard to stop!