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Swiss Arete T 

Swiss Arete 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 800', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Dick Jones, Spencer Austin, Ruth Dyer, Ray Ingwersen, Joe Momyer - July 1938
Page Views: 10,499
Submitted By: Chris Owen on Mar 9, 2006

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BETA PHOTO: Route schematic, Swiss Arete

Description 

Although not quite as spectacular as its namesake climb on the Matterhorn, the rock is so much better, in a more remote setting too.

From Sam Mack Meadow climb the left-hand gully at the back of the meadow, bear right under the Palisade Glacier moraine, through another shallow gully just to its right (Thunderbolt Peak framed in the notch) and so gradually gain the crest of the moraine. Follow it until it peters out (wonderful views of North Pal) then work across the Glacier towards Glacier Notch - climb the Glacier Notch couloir (loose in low snow). About 1.5 hours from Sam Mack Meadow.

Wander across to, then up the L-Shaped Couloir until a convenient place is found to access the ridge. One usually ends up a pitch before the steepening. Although the arete can be climbed from much father down.

The climb consists of about 6 pitches of moderate climbing up steep steps using cracks in perfect granite. The crux is at P4 where an impasse forces a tricky little sideways excursion onto an exposed slab on the right, followed by a steep crack at the back, after which two more pitches lead to the summit.


Location 

Descent is down Walter Starr's infamous Class 4 North Coulior (aka L-Shaped Couloir). Head down the ridge towards North Pal, then descend from the ridge before it levels off (just before a split pinnacle), usually in a series of rappels to an exposed traverse across to the notch at the top of the L-Shaped Couloir. This is all very exposed and an unprotected slip would be fatal. One can breathe a little more easily once down the couloir. The last real iffy bit is descending back down the Glacier Notch couloir. From here enjoy the hike back down to the comfort and greenery of Sam Mack Meadow (early season glissades back to the meadow are ideal for the weary Alpinist).


Protection 

Alpine rack, plus ice-axe and crampons.



Photos of Swiss Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Marc Chrysanthou on Swiss Arete - Mt. Gayley to the left.
Marc Chrysanthou on Swiss Arete - Mt. Gayley to th...
The climb as seen from Glacier Notch.
BETA PHOTO: The climb as seen from Glacier Notch.
Chris Owen at a steep bit. (c) Marc Chrysanthou 1986
Chris Owen at a steep bit. (c) Marc Chrysanthou 19...
Chris Owen on the crux pitch. (c) Marc Chrysanthou 1986
Chris Owen on the crux pitch. (c) Marc Chrysanthou...
Traversing the glacier is an easy stroll in early season (before July 4).
BETA PHOTO: Traversing the glacier is an easy stroll in early ...
Glissading down the L-shaped col - reason #2 for an early season ascent
Glissading down the L-shaped col - reason #2...
A particularly fine pitch on Swiss Arete, Marc Chrysanthou climbing.
A particularly fine pitch on Swiss Arete, Marc Chr...
The arete that puts the Arete in Swiss Arete, Mt. Sill, July 2006.
The arete that puts the Arete in Swiss Arete, Mt. ...
Climbing out of the glacial bowl. The loose rock band above separates the glacier from the L-shaped col.
Climbing out of the glacial bowl. The loose rock b...
8-July-2010: Swiss Arete on left, U Notch and North Palisade on right, as viewed from Mt. Gayley
8-July-2010: Swiss Arete on left, U Notch and Nort...
Comments on Swiss Arete Add Comment
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By Chris Owen
Administrator
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Apr 2, 2006

**Disclaimer**

This is the way we went - you may find a better way.

By Tom Dickey
Jul 12, 2006

Excellent route-- pure fun, no worries-- it's what we climb for.

By M.Morley
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Jun 13, 2007

A fun, scenic ridge traverse with nice views of the Palisades. The route itself is mostly 3rd and 4th class, with the occasional 5th class section. A long hike in.

We camped at the base of Mt. Gayley at ~12,000+ at the edge of the glacial moraine and that served us well.

By Sam Prentice
Oct 1, 2007
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Just up the trail from sam mack meadows, there are a series of broken, vegetated ledges that are protected and work great as bivy spots. They're off trail to the right, as you staircase through the treeline. Check em out if the sun is low or to save energy for the next day.

By Bruce Willey
From: Bishop, CA
Jul 4, 2008

doesn't Ruth Mendenhall get credit for FA? Just defending her because I was in love with the idea of her as a child.

By Rich Graziano
From: Atascadero, CA
Jul 28, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

What a stellar route! Best summit view I've yet to see. Despite the route, I have to say that my partner and I had a ridiculous time trying to locate the this-is-where-you-descend cairn. We finally found it, but it was far from being what I expected. We were looking for what we thought was supposed to be a "substantial" cairn. While there's no doubt most cairns don't have seven stones, I'm not quite sure that seven genuinely counts as substantial. Oh well, no biggie. I suppose that that's just a part of what we do and why we do it: it's the nature of alpinism and makes it an adventure.

By Chris Owen
Administrator
From: La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
Apr 21, 2009

Bruce sorry about omitting Ruth Mendenhall (nee Dyer). I'm in love with the idea of her and I'm 50, some dreams never die...

By ccmski
From: Prescott, AZ
Oct 17, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Find your way to the secret corner below the crux and experience some of the best climbing on the route. Climbing this adds 20-30 feet of steep finger and hand jamming. Climbed this by mistake the first time I climbed this route and thought that it felt stout for 5.7. Second time, the leader bypassed this section and went the "normal" way and I understood why I had thought the route was stout.

By BFK
From: San Francisco
Aug 17, 2011
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Fun route but very inconsistent climbing. We did find that there are some nice short (10-15') finger crack sections near the top. This can easily be bypassed but they add some fun movement at 14,100'.

Also, make a careful inspection of any rap slings before you use them if rapping into the L-shaped couloir from the notch between Sill and Apex peak. We found some that looked new but we were able to literally pull them out of the boulders they were around with just a few tugs. Maybe this was a result of some rockfall because I can't imagine someone rapped off of them.