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Sierra Alpine Mixed Routes

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

I'm curious if anyone has any good recommendations for alpine ice and mixed routes in the Sierra that are "reasonably" accessed during winter from the East side (less than 10 miles ski in). Trying to select future objectives for coming down from Oregon to see if a trip might be worth it. So if you have objectives that are further north those are preferable but I'm fine to go all the way to Whitney area too if there are stellar routes to be done.

I am familiar with the classic gully routes in the Pallisades and the Mountaineers route on Whitney. While those sound fun, I am looking for routes that are more difficult and sustained to prepare for similar mixed lines in Alaska and the Alps. Does anyone see neve and ice patches forming in sustained open books or similar features that might be 5.5 to 5.10 rock in summer?

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

Caveat - I have not climbed these, but look like they might fit your bill

- Lone Pine Peak - Winter route
- Mt Carl Heller - East arete
- Mt Williamson - NE Ridge
- Mt Morrison - Death Couloir
- North Pal - U-notch
- The Watchtower - Moonage Daydream

In the summer, Dana couloir, North Peak, (both are very very easy)
Mt Gilbert NW couloir, Mt Mendel - Mendall couloirs (Left and right)

My advice? Buy a plane ticket to Calgary for 300 bucks, and go to the Canadian Rockies -- those peaks are the real-deal for mixed ice/rock routes.

SirTobyThe3rd · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 1,910

E Ridge of Carl Heller is great in full winter conditions, Moonage on Watchtower is great when mostly formed (beginning usually is mixed m4-5 climbing). Have not done it, but thin of doing E Face of Whitney as a winter climb, or one of those chossy aretes on the Temple Crag. N Arete of Crystal Crag. Get creative and go for an adventure!

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 5

look into some of the winter climbs on Crystal Crag in Mammoth - less committing before tackling some of the bigger eastside stuff. Also some stuff beyond that along the Mammoth Crest.

Maybe Bear Creek Spire, North Peak, Conness if you're looking for more than just ice/snow climbs.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

Crystal Crag makes sense. Though it's much longer slog into there in winter than summer.

The obvious way to get in there is to pay trail fee to use the Tamarack Lodge cross-country (groomed) ski trails. Anyway as long as you're making the slog in there, might as well ski some of the steep-ish runs off the Mammoth Crest.

A fast strong party might be able to do a winter traverse the (rather fun) ridge of the Crystal Crag (with lots of soloing) in a single day car-to-car.

Bear Creek Spire in winter (thru most of April) is a long long slog in (mostly gentle) from the road closure gate at East Fork. Might rather look for something in the Little Lakes Valley a bit closer.

Mt Morrison: the roadside big ice wall of the Eastside Sierra.
Never done it. Not recommending it. But if you visit the Eastside, you will see it.


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

Wow, I'm impressed that you guys slogged all the way back into Carl Heller in the winter. I've been wanting to do that, but even the approach in the summer isn't insignificant.

Re Mt. Morrison. It looks awesome in winter, but the obvious line you can see from 395 was called the "Couloir of Death" by Chouinard, who called it the most dangerous climb he's ever been on. Having said that, I think it had some ascents recently, so maybe it's just a matter of conditions (or luck).

Ian McEleney · · Mammoth Lakes, CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,018

We're having an unusually stormy winter in the Sierra, so all sorts of obscurities are in. That being said, our winter alpine is usually more of the snow and rock scratchy kind than the Ueli-Steck-charging-up-neve variety. I've found that the snow covered granite mixed climbing here is good practice for the Alaska Range because that's mostly granite too.

I second the votes for The Winter Route on Lone Pine Peak and Mount Morrison (Psychopomp might be what you're looking for). Crystal Crag should not be a mega day if Alaska is your goal. You don't need to pay to ski in there.

Also worth checking out is Guilty As Charged on Laurel Mountain.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,832

Laurel is right next to Mt Morrison, so makes sense to check out both. And I'm pretty sure they keep the road plowed into Convict Lake all winter long, so Laurel qualifies as another Eastside winter "roadside" attraction.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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