Right there in the backyard: Mt. Humphreys

Last Saturday Mike and I finally made an ascent of Mt. Humphreys, which is one of the “big three” peaks just west of Bishop. Many postcards and photos of Bishop feature Humphreys, Basin Mountain, and Mt. Tom looming over town from the west. At just under 14,000′, Humphreys is the highest of the three, although it doesn’t look like it because it’s further back than the others.

Humphreys (1), Basin Mountain (2), Mt. Ton (3). [Big pink numbers are usually not seen above the peaks.]
A winter shot of Humphreys (1), Basin Mountain (2), Mt. Tom (3). [Big pink numbers are usually not seen above the peaks.]
Getting there involved about an hour of Subaru-able 4WD, with a couple of crux rocks that we managed to bypass without damage. We were able to drive to ~8500′. Then it was around 3 miles and ~5000′ more elevation gain across ridges and sandy ledges to gain the east arête of Humphreys, which we followed to the summit. All told, it took 14 hours car-to-car. A Grand Day Out, and right behind the house, at that!

Mt. Humphreys looms behind Manor Market and its equally large rooster.
Mt. Humphreys is back there, behind Manor Market and its equally large rooster.
A 3:00 am wake-up and drive put us walking through the flower-filled lower meadows by 5:30.
A 3:00 am wake-up and drive put us walking through the flower-filled lower meadows by 5:30.
Many ridges to cross: Making our way toward the base of the arête, with the spectacular multicolored rock of the Checkered Demon Couloir area at left.
Many ridges to cross: Making our way toward the base of the arête, with the spectacular multicolored rock of the Checkered Demon Couloir area at left.
We stopped to get water in this high meadow filled with a tiny creek and thousands of knee-high shooting stars.
We stopped to get water in this high meadow filled with a tiny creek and thousands of knee-high shooting stars.
I appreciated a belay for this rather exposed traverse on the arête.
I appreciated a belay for this rather exposed traverse on the arête.
Find Mike in this sea of slabs and win a prize!
Find Mike in this sea of slabs and win a prize!
This was a great ledge for one of our several lunches of thick slabs of bread stuffed with cheddar cheese, mayo and salami (lunch begins right after breakfast).
This was a great ledge for one of our several lunches of thick slabs of bread stuffed with cheddar cheese, mayo and salami (lunch begins right after breakfast).
summit
Lots of 3rd and 4th-class scrambling (roped and unroped), plus a final pitch of 5th class climbing, brought us to the summit!
Our route: View from near the summit of the east arête, with the Buttermilks and Bishop beyond. White Mountains in the far distance.
Our route: View from near the summit of the east arête, with the Buttermilks and Bishop beyond. White Mountains in the far distance.
View northeast from the summit toward the backside of Mt. Tom.
View northeast from the summit toward the backside of Mt. Tom, and the Volcanic Tablelands on the valley floor.
Looking west toward Humphreys Basin and the Paris Lakes.
Looking west toward Humphreys Basin and Desolation Lake.
Snow up high on the route was a lucky find, as we were low on water.
Snow up high on the route was a lucky find, as we were low on water.
Oooof ... we had to do a couple of short rappels on our lightweight webbing harnesses. My ribs weren't too happy ...
Oooof … we had to do a couple of short rappels on our lightweight webbing harnesses. My ribs weren’t too happy …
Long, long descent on talus and sandy gullies, back to the lower meadows.
We down-climbed the arête a little ways, then dropped into a gully for an easier descent on talus and sandy gullies, back to the lower meadows.

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