On August 8-10 our good friend of SMI Ed Saenz visited us for his long anticipated completion of the California 14,000’ peaks. Ed started this quest a few years ago and has steadily ticked them off his list. The last of them was Starlight Peak (14,200’/4328m) in the Palisades region of the Sierra. The crux of this climb is the “Milk Bottle”. This pinnacle of rock is about 40’/12m high. It is airy and exposed and offers a great sense of accomplishment. Also joining us on this climb was Cory Cline who has been steadily “knocking off” the California 14ers. This would be his 9th summit. SMI guides Trevor Anthes and Kurt Wedberg rounded out the team.
The approach to this climb took us out of South Lake on the Bishop Pass trail. After gaining Bishop Pass (11,972’/3649m) we traversed south towards Thunderbolt Col then down into Palisade Basin where we set up camp. An early dinner was followed by packing and crawling into our sleeping bags in preparation for our climb the following day.
Starting daybreak we climbed into the mouth of the Northwest Chute, roped up, and began climbing the 3rd and 4th class terrain that leads to the Milk Bottle. The day broke clear and calm with pleasant temperatures. The team moved well and we found ourselves arriving at the Milk Bottle in the late morning. Ed and Kurt arrived first.
Upon arrival they wasted no time in preparing to climb the Milk Bottle. Taking a belay from Ed, Kurt climbed the 5.7 pinnacle to the top. The climb is unprotected meaning there is nowhere to place any gear until the top of the pinnacle is reached. Anchoring the top are a sling plus a ¼” bolt so our climbing rope can be slung through a solid point allowing the others to climb the Milk Bottle with a “top rope” belay. Cory and Trevor arrived soon after and everybody took a turn climbing the Milk Bottle that makes up Starlight Peak. Pleasant temperatures allowed us to stay on top for a while eating lunch and enjoying the view before descending back to camp.
On day 3 we packed up and hiked back out to South Lake.
That evening the team had the pleasure of celebrating Ed’s successful completion of all 15 California 14ers with a big dinner at Whiskey Creek in Bishop. This is a big accomplishment for any Sierra mountaineer to achieve. Ed also made it a point to help others along the way by raising money for two worthy causes: Friends of Frankie and the Widows’ and Orphans’ Aid Association. Friends of Frankie is an organization founded to help out Frankie Shouldice, who is a young boy currently suffering from leukemia. Widows and Orphans Aid Association is a San Francisco based organization founded to help out families that have lost a parent who worked as an officer for the SFPD by providing financial aid and scholarship support. If you would like to donate to these worthy causes you may do so by sending checks made payable to “Friends of Frankie” or “Widows’ and Orphans’ Aid Association” to: Officer Ed Saenz C/o San Francisco Police Dept 301 Eddy St. San Francisco, CA 94102
Congratulations Ed on a job well done!! A few pictures are below. The entire photo gallery from the climb can be found here: Starlight Peak August 8-10, 2011.