FKT: Nick Handel - Mt Williamson (CA) - 2023-10-12

Route variation
Standard Route, TH-to-TH
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
8h 28m 43s

I went out hoping to get the three FKTs on Williamson (Ascent, Roundtrip, and RT with Tyndall) and managed to get them all. It was a super fun day and my first moving this fast on terrain like this. The conditions made things tougher than on a lower snow year, so I had some added complexity there and some navigational challenges but I was able to move fast over the rest of the day and pull it off. My times were:

Williamson Ascent: 3:55:47
Williamson RT: 8:28:43
Williamson & Tyndall RT: 8:28:43

The ups:

  • Felt strong and healthy! I was able to move, eat, and drink well all day.
  • I love the continuity of the climb to Shepherds Pass. It was such a grinder in a good way, and it set the tone for the whole day. It's rare to get a 2 hour effort like this!
  • The summits are genuinely breathtaking, with unique routes and such clear prominence over the high desert in the Easterns. I savored the moments on top even if I was moving fast, and they'll be in my memories forever.
  • The puzzle of navigating to these peaks always adds so much to the experience of red-lining at altitude. It's draining in more ways than just the physical push to get high in the Easterns!
  • Emma and Huckleberry (our dog) were waiting for me at the Trailhead, ready to celebrate at the hot springs near Mammoth. Lots of kisses from Huck (and Emma) and relaxation after this made it an awesome day.

The downs:

  • The drainage at the bottom was totally washed out, and navigation wasn't that bad, but it was a bit of a puzzle on the way up and down.
  • The snow field just below Shepherds Pass was large and in a steep and exposed place. After the significant accident there earlier this year, I opted for microspikes and caution.
  • I had a little navigation snafu on my way up Williamson that cost me maybe 10 minutes. Not a big deal, just my first time in there, and I went up the wrong lead into the chimney.
  • Tyndall was sketchy with all of the snow in between the rocks. There were tons of sections where I was navigating around snow patches or just skipping buried holds. I took the up and down slowly. Felt like I went from FKT effort to a crawl in this section but for good reason!
  • There were so many rocks in my shoes all day. What's wrong with me not bringing some gaiters!!

Overall, I had a blast and was happy to get all the FKTs I was hunting. I think someone could bring these times down more. Maybe me! I enjoyed this zone, and I hope I find myself up there again in the next few years.