Boundary Peak, 13,140ft
Date climbed: June 27, 2005 3:07pm
More pictures on the MITOC Gallery: http://mitoc.mit.edu/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=21334
Matthew and I were working on a trail crew in the Sierra Nevada for the summer based out of Mammoth Lakes, California, which put us within easy striking distance of the roof of Nevada. Boundary Peak, as the name implies, is right on the Nevada-California border and just a few hours from Mammoth.
On one of our weekends off from trail crew we convinced another trailcrew volunteer, Greg, to drive over to Boundary Peak for a dayhike. This peak doesn’t officially have a trail, but since it’s mostly above treeline anyway routefinding wouldn’t be that much of a problem.
We drove down from the alpine, forested city of Mammoth Lakes and as we got closer to Nevada the scenery got more and more desolate until it was complete desert – not a sign of life anywhere. We had to cross over into Nevada to approach the mountain from the East. The roads got worse and worse as we approached the trailhead, eventually turning into dirt washboard that shook the whole car for half an hour.
Finally at the trailhead we found a few trees and undergrowth, and followed a user trail to the edge of
treeline (a user trail is unmaintained, and only exists from people following the same route until a path is worn). From here we could see the summit – it was still mostly covered in snow even in late June! This was quite a contrast to the blistering heat in the desert we had just driven through. We picked our own path through the rockfield up toward the summit and about 500 ft from the top were forced to cross a weird-looking snowfield. The snow had formed what looked like stalagmites pointing up at the sun (like the penitentes of the Andes). None of the snow on the other side of the valley in the Sierra Nevada had looked like this, and we speculated somehow the sun must be
more intense over in Nevada and had melted the common suncups deep enough until they looked like penitentes.
These penitentes posed no real obstacle and by mid afternoon we reached the summit. Most people would be feeling some effects of altitude here above 13,000 ft, but we had all been on trail crew jobs based at 10,000ft so were already well acclimated.
Curiously, Matthew found some bones at the top. We joked that they were the remains of the last person to summit Boundary Peak, but in reality they were probably some cow bones someone had brought up for fun.
After a quick break came the best part of the day – glissading back to the car! On our way up we had spied a few snow chutes on the eastern side of the mountain that made it almost down to the trailhead. From our month on trailcrew playing around on snow after work Matthew and I had become expert boot-glissaders, being able to basically ski down mountain slopes doing turns and all with nothing more than our boots.
Greg decided to take the lame hiking way down (he wasn’t as confident in glissading), while Matthew and I went down in style. At one point Matthew duct-taped a camera to his head to get a video of the descent.
After several thousand feet of vertical descent in about 15 minutes we reached the end of the snow and were forced to earn our way back to the car. We fooled around for a little while climbing trees to wait for Greg to catch up, then all returned to the car together. We made it back to Mammoth in time for dinner and started planning our next adventures.