In the 3rd week of Sept, I went up the South Face Gully of Mt. Laurel on my way to the Interbike Tradeshow. This peak is above Convict Lake just south of Mammoth. The first hour involves a few low 5th class moves. I was glad I brought my rock shoes, there was real stemming and small hand holds, not to mention dirt covered rock everywhere! Afterwards a friend agreed this route was kind of out of condition like this last year when he checked it out. Not hard to climb, but it would definately be very hard to downclimb with the slippery sand coating the rock.
Anyway, this was a really fun adventure and highly recommended by Croft and Macnamara in their guidebooks. The Convict Lake Trailhead is at 7580' and the summit of Mt. Laurel is 12,812'. I have a good trip report on this forum, skiing the Pinner Couloir with Eric O, Scott Shieldz and John Crus.
Peter Croft's guidebook has a story of him racing up there in 3 hours round trip. I was hoping for no more than double that. I think I spent 5 hours round trip.
Supertopo is right to warn you that you'll be confused which way to go once you get close, and lose sight of the summit. However, I think I would have found the right route if I never read anything. I read "go left" where you can, and ended up climbing a little steeper and higher sub peak. This was really cool actually, and had a little more route finding challenges and some 4th or easy 5th class moves. Unfortunately, those moves were on the loosest rock possible as I downclimbed 20'.
Looking at the picture on the right here, I now realize that I missed the entire upper half of the route. At the lower red band, I went left into the shade, as I mis-identified the actual summit. That huge White block looked like it, when I could have looked back at pics on my camera even to remember the summit area is red scree. The Red rock I climbed was more east facing, and clean, solid, class 3 fun stair stepping! It got a little steeper up higher, possibly reaching 4th or easy 5th class and pretty crumbly. I got out of there, meeting the left syline just a few hundred feet from the summit (not the actual summit). that was a funny moment every has once in awhile - "hey, I made it faster than I thou.,....oh ***, it's gonna be another hour......"
Inyo National Forest is so amazing! If I could only play in this huge high sierra zone I would be happy for a lifetime.
This year-round snow patch at the start of the climb might have been the crux. getting past it without falling through required a 5' jump. It was collapsing at the edge and pretty thin, so I jumped into a hole in the middle and crawled through.
The slippery 5th class start. I had some pro and a cordeltte with me that I never used. I didn't see many places to use it down low in here to my suprise. There were some loose flakey holes maybe, but no cracks.
Here is the sub peak I decided was the summit. It fit the description of clean, slabby, 3rd class where you gain the summit 200' to the left.
Looking East to the Sierra Crest at Red Slate Mountain
Last year I skied from the summit of Mt. Baldwin with Roger, Greg, Susan, and Chris Cyzs. That line of snow is still in there above the lake. Baldwin is the pointy one in the left pic. Red Slate Couloir is in the other pic on the right. I got to ski that one many years ago with John Morrison.
Mt. Ritter and Banner with Mammoth Mountain in the forground, seen from the summit of Mt. Laurel. I skied those about 10 years ago in a fun 3 day trip with John, Glen, and Dan. I'd love to go back there again. Skiing on the brain, I just snowed last night even around Tahoe.
Here's a view back of the minor south ridge up high on Laurel, where I came off my sub peak and joined the actual summit ridge. So this route definately goes and is fun.
Looking back at Convict Lake and the trailhead from the summit.
Lucky for you that odor isn't possible through cyberspace.
Here's where I went. I believe the route in the guidebooks talks about just going straight up the darker scree field, where I climbed steeper granite to a sub peak. I guess I'd do it again that way now that I think about it, I liked it a lot and didn't miss anything!
Little Morrison in the forground with Mt. Morrison behind on the right.