Sunday, July 19, 2009

Banner Peak

The Climber's Guide to the High Sierra indicates that their is a class 2 route to the summit of Banner Peak (12,945 feet in elevation) from Lake Catherine. From the lake, ascend to the Ritter-Banner saddle and then follow the steep, but easy talus to the summit.

I decided while at Thousand Island Lake, I would like to see if I could make it to the summit. Mark and Steve Wicks agreed to go with me. Below is Banner Peak as seen from our campsite at Thousand Island Lake.

The photo, below, indicates the side route which would lead to Lake Catherine, over North Glacier Pass.

The following photos were taken the day after our attempt, while hiking to Island Pass, on our way to Donahue Pass. They provide a picture of North Glacier Pass, the saddle in the middle of the picture.

A closer view of the saddle.

An even closer view of the saddle.

As we set out from our campsite, we had to go a mile or so, just to get to the end of Thousand Island Lake. We encountered several streams leading into the lake.

We gradually made it to the flank of Banner Peak and started around to the side leading to North Glacier Pass. Banner Peak loomed over us.

The saddle comes into view.

As we got higher, we were hiking in snow. At one spot, melting snow created a waterfall which disappeared under the snow below it.

Steve and Mark as we got higher.

A patch of grass and flowers is contrasted with the snow and rock of the peak.

A very steep class 3 climb leads to the summit, but would require crampons and more courage than I currently have to complete it.

Below, a much less steep snowfield leads to a false saddle (beyond it is another series of rocks that leads to the actual saddle). We carefully climbed it.

From the same spot, looking behind us down the mountain.

Upon reaching the top of the false saddle, we were faced with another saddle, but this time it was all rock to the top.
On reaching the saddle, we had a view of Lake Catherine, mostly covered in blue ice and looking very, very cold.

A very strong wind, with gusts of 60 to 80 miles per hour, nearly blew us off our feet. A view of Lake Catherine's west end.

A view of Lake Catherine's east end reveals the glacier leading to the saddle between Banner and Ritter. However, there was no clear path leading to the saddle that would safely allow us to reach it without risk of falling into the lake. The shoreline was very steep and it looked like it would not be good if one of us fell in. We decided we had gone far enough.

A view up the west side of Banner Peak from the North Glacier Saddle.

As we headed back down, a view just beyond the North Glacier Saddle.

As we reached the edge, we encountered the snowfield we had to climb to get there. We sat on our rear-ends and slid down. Below, Mark begins to slide down the snow field.

Mark gets closer.

A beautiful high-altitude yellow plant survives near the snow and ice.

We headed to the east to catch a view of Thousand Island Lake from the ridge. Below, Mark and Steve, with Banner Peak in the background, as they survey Thousand Island Lake from far above.

The view of Thousand Island Lake.

As we got lower down the ridge, we encountered another snow field we needed to slide down. Mark, again, begins to slide.

Steve, behind him, makes a mid-course correction to avoid hitting the rocks.

A Pacific treefrog encountered on the way back to camp.

We didn't make it to the summit, but we had a very pleasant hike and saw some beautiful scenery. I would like to go back some day, later in the year, and try again.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful (although somewhat scary) pictures. I really like that one of Steve and Mark with Banner Peak in the background. You should get them a copy of that one.