North Arete on Matterhorn Peak

Goran originally planned to fly up to Seattle for a fall weekend in the Cascades, but the weather up here wasn’t great, so we switched to a 3-day weekend in the Sierra, targeting the Evolution Traverse. I flew into San Jose late on Friday night and we drove toward Tioga Pass, hoping to sleep at 9,000 feet to acclimatize a bit. Unfortunately, traffic and my motion sickness delayed us a bit and we spent the night on the other side of Yosemite at only 5,000 feet or so. We started the drive decently early on Saturday morning and made a stop in Mammoth for provisions before busting down to Bishop and packing up.

We quickly hiked up and over Lamarck Col to get to the Darwin Bench in about 4.5 hours, hoping to start the traverse that day, but the elevation hit us like a ton of bricks as we went around the Darwin Canyon lakes. Goran was feeling pretty nauseous and I got quite the headache. We ended up spending the night and deciding it would be best to save the traverse for a time when we were better acclimated, so we hiked out and then did some cragging in Pine Creek Canyon as a consolation prize before deciding to use our last day to climb Matterhorn Peak.

Matterhorn Peak in the morning sun

Goran on the corner pitch

After camping nearby, we crossed the creek and started hiking at 6am. The trail was pretty quick and we found a pretty efficient way up the cross-country section. The sun-cupped glacier was also easy travel, so it was only the last few hundred vertical feet up loose scree that was slow going. We made it to the base of the route in about 3.5 hours and then started simul-climbing around 10am. The terrain was mostly pretty mellow, so we made good time, reaching the corner pitch (which was quite fun) about an hour later and then getting to the true summit at about noon.

 Enjoying some exposure on the final section to the summit

Enjoying some exposure on the final section to the summit

It was a bit chilly in the shade as we went, but we kept moving pretty fast and eventually got back in the sun for the last section. Our lunch on top was lovely and warm with great views. We started our descent at about 12:30pm and got to the car at 4:15pm for a 10.25-hour day. Fun route and nice peak, though I would have liked a bit higher climb:approach ratio!