|Bass Lake and beyond from Stormy Joe.|
I left the Bass creek trailhead 7:15 and walked the normal winter route to the upper trailhead, then continued up the Little St. Joe trail for about 15 minutes. I wasted about 15 minutes searching for water (in retrospect, year-round water is available near the little saddle below the final summit pitch, somewhere around 8,000 feet), but otherwise the climb was casual. With 3 liters of water squirreled away in the pack I proceeded to the summit of Little St. Joe, ate a Snickers bar then continued west toward Big St. Joe.
|Just your typical Big from Little St. Joe photo.|
|Crux gully on the east rideg of Big St. Joe. I followed the right edge of the snow,|
started up toward the left notch, then cut right near the top of the gully.
You just kind of have to follow your nose.
The exit from the gully was stout 4th class - plenty of holds but steep.
|5th lifetime summit of Big St. Joe.|
|It got a little bushwackey for a few bits, but wasn't as bad as it looks in the picture.|
|Looking back at Big St Joe from Stormy Joe.|
|Bass Lake outlet, where I swam.|
This is a good traverse. The peaks are iconic, the length is solid yet eminently doable, and the ridgeline traversing is relatively fast, at least compared to characteristically slow ridgelines in the central and southern portions of the range. The outing is blissfuly lacking in commitment, as one can bail south off the ridge pretty much anywhere except off the cliffy south face of Stormy Joe. It would also be a fine outing in the reverse direction. Go do it.
With a long race in just 6 days, I held the pace back a bit, and it was encouraging to feel good all day. I had a relatively smooth day, but have no doubts that it could go faster.