A grueling classic. Not seeing a single person out here all day added a level of mental intensity to this solo trip. I was completely on my own; injury was not an option. So I booked it up the never-ending switchbacks and meadows and made it to the old Stiletto Lookout in 2 hours.
Although forecast to be sunny all day, some clouds started forming in the distant west. They didn't look that menacing so I decided to press on to the summit. My plan had been to scramble up the west ridge to the summit of Stiletto (shown in the main peak photo), but I couldn't pick out a completely obvious route so instead I decided to descend to the south face which looked more gradual. Turns out it wasn't that gradual and was a total beat-down: a scramble up talus, scree, and loose rock up a series of gullies requiring serious concentration. Cresting a final loose dirt/scree gully, I popped up on top and was relieved to find I had stumbled onto the true summit (note: it's not the point that looks highest from the Lookout, it's to the right of that). But after only a minute on top, I felt raindrops. The entire western sky had grown dark with approaching rain clouds. I had to get down now. Down-climbing the scree slopes was tedious and energy-sapping, but I couldn't allow myself to rest; winds were picking up and the storm was closing in. I dug in and made it up and over the Lookout and walked/ran all the way down the meadows without stopping. Once in the trees, the storm grew benign and created a feeling of utter solitude. I almost forgot what I was doing as I descended switchback after switchback down the slightly-overgrown trail. I've done solos before, but usually not this intense. Although the entire outing was only 6 1/2 hrs, it felt a lot longer. Navigating solo off-trail through tricky terrain far from any people mentally drained me. I have newfound respect for the mental strength of soloists in the wilderness.

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