“Treasure” (E. Ridge)

Treasure from the west

Treasure Peak, by the east ridge, actually lives up to its name. Secor doesn’t mention this route, but it seems popular among people who have signed the register. The gem is the traverse from the east summit to the true one, a narrow ridge with no way to bail, plenty of class 3-4 climbing (and maybe a 5th-class crux), and wild exposure in places. If you have half a day in the Rock Creek area, I highly recommend the following loop: take the trail to Treasure Lakes (the unmarked cutoff after Long Lake), scramble to the east summit, traverse to the true summit, then drop into the Ruby Lakes drainage (possibly via the north ridge) to return.

I had set out to climb Dade and/or Abbot, leaving the snow gear at home and expecting to find a rock-only route. On reaching Treasure Lakes, though, I lacked the will to grind over the endless moraine to the base of any route on Dade, all of which are described as being plagued with loose rock.

After sitting next to the lake for awhile, I decided to head up the thing to the west; I thought it might be “Treasure Peak,” and it would probably have a good view of the region’s high peaks: Bear Creek Spire, Dade, Abbot, and Mills. The climbing was mostly class 2 with a bit of class 3, and far less annoying scree- and brush-wise than I had expected when looking at it from below. I soon reached a summit with a large cairn and no register, and immediately realized that the other, West summit was higher.

The connecting ridge looked intimidating, but I had plenty of time, so I figured I could always retrace my steps if it didn’t work out. While I repeatedly felt on the verge of getting stuck, it somehow always went. The crux was a probably-low-5th step left with a couple of face moves to get up a 10-foot step. The rest was mostly class 3 with perhaps a bit of class 4. Exposure-wise, a system of narrow ledges bypassing a fin to the right was definitely the highlight:

Big air

I reached the true summit about 30 minutes from the false one, and (barely) located the well-protected register bottle. I entertained a hope that I might have been there before Bob Burd, but alas, his name appeared a few pages back. It was early, so I sat around for awhile listening to rockfall and two chatty climbers, and looking at routes on Abbot and Dade. The Cat Ears Couloir on Dade looked thin, but preferable to the alternatives, while the North Couloir on Abbot looked interesting. I eventually spotted the talkative climbers working their way into the latter, and watched them over my shoulder for much of my hike back.

Since Bob had climbed the north ridge, I decided to descend that way, to compare it to the climb up. There was no comparison: the north ridge is mostly a pile of rubble, with one notch that takes a little route finding, and a possible escape to the west at almost any point. Still, it got me back to Ruby Lake and the Mono Pass trail. The pair of climbers had, by that point, apparently been stymied by the 5th class top-out on the couloir and were retreating, either to give up or try again via the standard route.

Hiking along the trail, I was — for the second time in two days — menaced by someone’s dog. It started out barking, then raised its hackles and approached me. Even more infuriating, the dog belonged to a packer leading a train of mules, who made no apology and very little effort to control the dog, barking viciously only a couple of feet away from me. I mentioned the incident to one of his fellow packers, who was polite and apologetic, and told me he would pass on the message. I’m not sure what can be done about such incidents, other than going all Rick Perry, but I’m tired of putting up with others’ dogs on public lands.

One response to ““Treasure” (E. Ridge)

  1. Christi O'Connell says:

    On August 16, 1971, my sister fell to her death on this peak. I learned of the exact peak 42 years later, never knowing the exact peak from which she fell. Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary and today I see for the first time your pictures of that peak. I am in awe and gratitude. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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