Goethe, “Wahoo”


Muriel (l) and Goethe (behind, r) from Muriel Lake


We had an early taste of winter in the Sierra, with possible snow and plenty of cold, so I was looking for shorter, easier days. (It turns out the snow went mainly north, to Mammoth and Yosemite.) Goethe and the unofficially-named “Wahoo” are two peaks southwest of Piute Pass along the Glacier Divide. They have been climbed by previous Sierra Challenges; Wahoo was on last year’s list, but I did Humphreys that day instead. Goethe is class 3 from Alpine Col, and is connected to Wahoo by a long class 2 ridge.

By my late start around 8, clouds were already showing above the pass to the west, but with neither rain nor thunder, I wasn’t that worried. It was already windy at the trailhead, and the wind increased as I approached the pass. It was cold enough at the pass for the snowmelt to have frozen overnight, but not uncomfortable while moving.

From just over the pass, a well-established use trail takes off to the southwest, passing around the north end of Muriel Lake before disintegrating in the rocks near the Goethe Lakes. From there, I crossed between the two lakes, then climbed through a car-sized boulder maze to Alpine Col. While it was a long climb, the col did not live up to the horror stories I had heard. Then again, I was fresh and traveling light, and I sort of enjoy boulder-hopping. From the col it was mostly a long class 2 climb to Goethe’s summit, with one narrow class 3 section.

I put on my winter shell on Goethe, and sat down to have a snack and sign the register. Bob had climbed the peak an amazing three times for the Sierra Challenge, and I saw a number of other familiar names in the register. There was a strong wind and clouds in all directions, but I didn’t see much precipitation.

Balling my frozen hands inside my gloves, I headed out west toward Wahoo on mixed sand and talus, passing a couple bumps on the ridge before dropping to Snow-Tongue Col. The last stretch before the drop was the least pleasant, passing through a section of some kind of loose black rock. The col looked like a much easier way to cross the Glacier Divide than either Alpine or Lamarck Col. From there, the climbing steepened and improved with a bit of class 3 before Wahoo’s summit. The register was well-protected by no fewer than four plastic bags, and showed that the peak had seen a few visitors up from Golden Trout Lakes since last year’s Challenge.

I started noticing a bit of graupel on the summit, which continued as I dropped to Golden Trout Lakes, then traveled cross-country and on sporadic use trails to Summit Lake and Piute Pass. Looking back, it seemed like a good-sized storm might be headed my way. The graupel stopped as I descended the pass, though, and the storm never materialized. It was sunny and, if not warm, at least no longer cold as I descended past Piute Crags to the trailhead.

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