North Ridge of Whaleback beckons in its early morn...
Seen from the northern edge of Big Wet Meadow this peak is one of the most sublime and beautiful peaks in the whole range. It is essentially a huge nunatak similar in character to perhaps Pingora or Bugaboo Spire (though not quite as spectacular). One has to hike a long way and still not get a view until the very last minute, but it is well worth that hike.
It's south east face has two routes at Class 3, then there's Jonah's Joy (Class 3) on its west face, and the impressive (from Big Wet Meadow) north ridge is Class 4.
From the tiny and exposed summit there are good views across to Glacier Ridge on the west, Triple Divide Peak to the south and Milestone Mountain to the east.
My climbing partner Sara called it "Wayback" and that's no exaggeration as it's about 20 miles and 2 days of hiking to get to Cloud Canyon.
Day 1 from Sample Meadow trailhead hike east to Sugarloaf Meadow to the west of Sugarloaf, there's a bear box and small creek here at this pleasant campsite next to the meadow. About 7 miles and about 6 hours of hiking - with about 2000 feet of down hill.. Day 2 From Sugarloaf Meadow hike east heading for the Roaring River Ranger Station, (7 miles) the trail heads up then down into the Roaring River Valley. From here cross the river and head south into Cloud Canyon, after about 4 miles and 1000 feet of gain you'll finally hit Big Wet Meadow and an almighty view of Whaleback, there's a great site(s) in the first big trees on the left of the trail. About 11 miles and 8 hours of hiking.
The northern opening of Cloud Canyon with Big Wet Meadow is a truly spectacular and special place on a par with Yosemite, albeit different in character - but definitely world-class. If it was near the road it would be crawling with tourists. But it's not uncommon to have the whole canyon to yourself.
Here are a couple of links to awesome 1-day ascents from the trailhead to the summit:
The route finishes on the crest of the South Ridge, about 10 minutes south of the main summit. Access to this point is gained by initially following easy benches, and large talus up a few ramps, trending right until what looks like steeper stuff is encountered. This proves easy also, although a little more exposed, mostly ledges and blocks with small to medium scree. Trend for a reddish broken wall which has a large ledge running beneath it. Hit this ledge on its left and cross rightwards beneat...[more]Browse More Classics in CA