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Good Winter Climbs?

Original Post
yosem1te · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 15

Hey everyone,

I'm going to be in a California for a few weeks in December and was wondering if anyone can recommend any good winter climbs in the sierras. I'm ideally looking for single axe routes without crazy approaches due to the little time I'll have. I've had trouble finding routes that aren't too technical and have the roads leading to them still open. Love to here your recommendations.

Sam Bedell · · Bend, OR · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 354

Where will you be in the Sierra? Bishop? Tahoe?

Danny · · brooklyn, ny · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 25

Hey Yosem1te - Where are you staying and where you trying to go?

I'm in Fresno staying on a couch until Dec 6 and looking for a climbing partner for Yosemite. I lead sport and trad and am equipped. Would you like to partner up? Hit me up at 914-262-1930 if so.


C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 551

"Easy" Sierra/CA Winter mountaineering objectives
Obviously these are very condition dependent. December can be a bit wonky in the Sierras.

- NW ridge of Mt. Morrison, - easily done in a day, zero approach. Class 3
- Mt Whitney, mountaineers route - 2 days if there is not too much snow, Class 3
- Mt Shasta, Casaval ridge - 2 days, class 3
- Mt LeConte, 'Waterfall" route - 1-2 days. Watch for avy danger, class 4 low 5th
- Mt Langley, NE Couloir via. Tuttle creek. Can be done in a day, class 3
- Matterhorn Peak, E Couloir and E ridge. 1-2 days
- Lone Pine Peak, N ridge or the Winter route. 1-2 days, 5th class

Some suggestions for winter rock climbing in CA
-Tollhouse (Fresno)
-Owens River Gorge (Bishop)
-Alabama Hills (Lone Pine)
-New Jack City (Barstow)
-Pinnacles (Coast)

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

Good list from Mr. Brooks but many of those times are REALLY agressive. Mt. Langley from Tuttle Creek has significant gain and is usually done in 2-3 days in the spring. Matterhorn Peak in a day in winter is pretty fast as well. Mt. Morrison is close to the road but be mindful that the area around there/Convict Lake is pretty avy prone.

The Winter Route on the S. Face of Langley looks nice. I've heard good things about the N. Face of Mt. Carson, near June Lake. Both of those are more technical though, so probably not ehat you're looking for. The Tahoe area probably has pretty good bang for the buck.

Sam Bedell · · Bend, OR · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 354

That's pretty funny. I was thinking that Mr. Brook's times were on the slow side. Casaval Ridge I've done in one short day, but then again that was with skis... guess if you insist on slow shoeing or worse, wallowing, you could conceivably turn any of those into a full-on expedition.


If you're looking for something more accessible from the Central Valley and closer to the road and shorter overall you might consider stuff like:

-Castle Peak off of I-80 on Donner Pass
-Round Top near Kirkwood ski area on 88
-Mt. Rose via the E Ridge starting down low on Mt. Rose Highway

None of those are super classic High Sierra peaks, but they avoid driving down the east side of the range and are still quite scenic half-day to full-day adventures.

James Jaco · · Sacramento, CA · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 30

Anyone know the current conditions at Tollhouse? I just acquired my trad rack and am eager to finally get some multi-pitch trad routes under my belt. Tollhouse looks like a cool area, but I'm unfamiliar with it. Any help is appreciated.

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 551

You can climb at Tollhouse pretty much all winter. If it rains/snows (like its supposed to on Thursday) Give it a few days to dry and you should be good to go.

Ryan Pfleger · · Tahoe, CA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

New to the Sierra and going through this old thread. If you bump the difficulty up to 4th or easy 5th and no harder than AI 3, what else opens up? Especially interested in stuff that can be done in a day if you're fast, and has low avy danger. Any good resources out there? I think I will pick up the Eastern Sierra Backcountry book by Mingori. I have Secor's The High Sierra and Robert Parker's Eastern Sierra Ice.  Anything else?

C Brooks · · Fresno, CA · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 551

You won't find AI2-3 ice in the Sierra until the Fall. Given the amount of snow this year, I am guessing the ice will be not so great next fall. California is not a great place to live if you are an ice climber. 

Longest ice climb that usually forms is Moonage Daydream in SEKI, its about 6 pitches long. 

Easy 5th - in the "winter" (are we even having a winter?) You are really limited by road closures, and how far you want to ski/walk. You could climb say East face of Whitney, but it might be -10 depending on when you go. Here are some things that are quick to get to. Think south faces in the winter or low elevation. Here are some that can be done in a day -- some easier than others

Lone Pine Peak  - Winter route or North Ridge

Stemwinder on Thor Peak

Five finger traverse to Aquila peak (fun easy solo on dubious quality rock, only takes an hour or 2)

South face of Moro rock

Let me know if you are looking for a partner, I'm more of a mountaineering type in the winter, but I would happy to climb some low 4th class, low 5th peaks if the weather continues to be more like spring than winter!

Ryan Pfleger · · Tahoe, CA · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 15

Yeah, I am definitely interested. Mountaineering stuff too if you want a partner on anything. I just enjoy getting out. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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