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Mt. Williamson
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North Arete T 
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North Arete 

YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 3000', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.4 French: 4a Ewbanks: 12 UIAA: IV ZA: 10 British: VD 3c [details]
FA: Claude Fiddler & Jim Keating 7/1984
Season: Summer
Page Views: 224
Submitted By: Richard Shore on Aug 26, 2014

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The North Arete III 5.4 3000'

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A long route guarded by one of the burliest approaches in the Sierra. When viewed from a distance, the North Arete is the prominent "long twisting rib" that descends from the West Horn sub-summit on Mt Williamson. A very obvious line from afar, but when viewed from beneath it is a very complex and confusing mountain face. I thought finding the start was the crux. See the marked up photos below, they may help locating the start. Considered one of the "100 Classics" by Moynier & Fiddler, I thought it was a fun easy line on good rock, but for the same grade not nearly as spectacular as the North Ridge on Lone Pine Peak. A good way to bag this 14er by a technical route that doesn't require superhuman endurance, like the NE Ridge.

Once you've located the rib, best accessed from the west via a loose talus scramble, cross over and climb it mostly on the east (left) side. Loads of 3rd and 4th class scrambling up to where the ridge eventually narrows, where short bits of easy 5th class are mixed in. Any difficult looking sections (towers) are bypassed on their left side. Eventually, you will reach the summit of the West Horn. From there, scramble down NW to find the downclimb onto the summit plateau. Finding the descent from the West Horn has proven difficult for some who have rappelled. Walk the long sandy plateau to the main summit of Williamson. Descend the loose 3rd class West Face back to your camp in Williamson bowl.


The route can be approached two ways:
The "standard" route up Shepherd Pass, down into the Williamson Bowl (camp). Getting here is no easy task, so you might as well plan on spending an extra day and climb Tyndall while you're here. You won't likely be coming back up here anytime soon. From the Willy Bowl descend the Williamson creek drainage to ~11K'. Traverse up into the route through a break in the cliff-band up loose talus.

Alternatively, a more direct and shorter approach up Shepherd Creek and Williamson Creek may be made. I believe this is an unmaintained canyon bushwhack, but I may be wrong. This might be a reasonable means for car-to-car type folks.


A solo for many, but a short 30m rope and light rack wouldn't go unused.

Photos of North Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Looking down towards the start from the Williamson...
Looking down towards the start from the Williamson...
Looking back across the summit plateau from the ma...
Looking back across the summit plateau from the ma...

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