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Matterhorn Summit Adventure in Winter

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Matterhorn Peak - California

No, not the one in Switzerland nor Disneyland but Matterhorn Peak in the Hoover Wilderness. This 12,000+ Peak is located on the East Side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California just North of Mono Lake.

The first day was pretty much all driving and we decided to stay the night in the small town of Bridgeport. We had a good meal at a local restaurant and decided to organize all the gear for an early start the next day. While we were going over all the gear one of our group members realized he forgot his shell jacket and pants. This was something that could end up being a problem spending the next three days in the snow above ten thousand feet. So we frantically started asking the local stores for any available gear that would work. All we could find was a pair of Frogg Toggs Rain Jacket and pants. If you have never heard of Frogg Toggs, they are basically a one-time use item that was $30 for both the pants and jacket. It was going to have to make due for this adventure.

The next morning we started out early and headed to the Twin Lakes area where we parked the cars near Annett's Mono Village. We strapped on all the gear and headed up the Horse Creek Falls Trail. For the first 2.5 miles of following the Horse creek was snow free, but once we reached the first good incline we strapped on the snowshoes and made our way up to the ridge just below Turquoise Lake. Here we set up base camp and hunkered down for the night.

The following day we hung out in the valley to acclimate and work on getting our snow legs and recovery techniques dialed in on the opposite ridge. The daytime heat and evening freeze made for some slick ice to practice recovering on.

Summit day was a headlamp start. We used snowshoes for about a mile. At about half a mile from the summit, we stopped for a break and a few members of our group dug out a notch in the snow for a somewhat flat area to sit and put on our summiting gear. We also took this opportunity to check for landslide conditions. If you remember the member of the group who was now wearing Frogg Toggs, we had to also patch him up with some duct tape to mend holes and tears in his pants and jacket.

Matterhorn Peak - California

Snowpack was good and we had all our gear on, so we headed out for the summit. This stretch of the climb took longer than anticipated due to the deep snow. Once we reached the saddle we had a quick lunch and removed the crampons. The rest of the climb was on exposed rock and very little snow or ice. Once at the summit, we realized it was a little after two PM and had to get back down before dark. We made a quick round of summit high-fives and headed down.

Matterhorn Peak - California

Once back at our notch in the snow we removed all the clunky gear and skipped putting on the snowshoes to make glissading down the mountain easier. We made it down to Turquoise Lake just as the sun was setting. We decided to use our ice axes to make a hole in the ice covering the lake to extract water. Doing this saved on fuel and time once back at camp for our last good meal on the mountain. It was a long day and everyone decided to hit the hay a little early to get much needed sleep.

Matterhorn Peak - California

The last day was a slow start, but with some Advil and hot coffee we started the leisurely hike down the mountain. Good thing we left when we did, there was a snowstorm rolling in and we got to the cars just as the snowflakes started to fall. Oh, and the Frogg Togg alpinist looked like the incredible hulk after changing back to Bruce Banner, but with more duct tape.

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