Type: Trad, Alpine, 2000 ft, 18 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Carl Dreisbach, Pat Armstrong - Sept 1969
Page Views: 23,422 total · 148/month
Shared By: Chris Owen on Mar 9, 2006
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Climbs the middle of the Celestial Aretes.

Gain the start of the climb by traversing a ledge leftwards which leads to the buttress. Scramble up for a few hundred feet to where the rock gets steeper; rope up here. Several moderate pitches lead to the first impasse, a gendarme which is bypassed on the right with a super-exposed traverse (5.7). Climb down to the base of the Ibrium Tower. A cracks lead to a platform and the second impasse below the flawless section of the Tower (5.8). Pass around to the right, very exposed, and continue to traverse (loose in parts) until cracks lead back to the top of the Tower (5.8). Continue to follow the crest of the ridge, tackling impasses (5.7 or so) until the easy back slopes of Temple Crag are reached. Hike to the summit if there's time - it's worth the view.


Descend down the back slopes of Temple Crag to steep rocks which (rappel) lead down to Contact Pass, snow or scree down from here.


Full alpine rack.


Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
This was a long day for a 46 year old man. Not really hard, but long. I went up the day before and cut steps with a rock on the approach snow field. The first half of the climb goes pretty quick until the first tower. This is really the first exciting pitch. The ibrium tower has a nice 5.8 crack and traverse to belay. Be careful down climbing after this to long traverse to a gully. You regain the ridge and think your almost done but you're not. One thing that stood out to me was the protection was difficult. Stoppers did not place well. I think cams are preferable. I'm saying that and I'm old school. The way this rock has faulted seems to be more of a blocky thing with parallel sided cracks. . The route ends below the summit and it's recommended to go to the top for great views. We wanted to find the Rap to contact pass before it got really dark and skipped the summit. We did a double rappel off some really manky anchors in the dark and ended up about 100ft below the pass. I believe you can get off on 1 rappel if you get to the correct spot at the pass itself. it's a tough decent in the dark. (don't forget your headlamp on this one) Aug 21, 2006
You are correct in your pro assessment. I usually carry double yellow and orange TCU's on these routes. Many seam type features do not hold nuts well on Temple Crag.

The double rap was down and to the right of the "best" rappel. It is extremely exposed to get to the "best" rappel but it lies right at the top of Contact Pass. I have done both ways and your way is a bit safer due to the scrambling you have to do to the "best" and also "shortest" (1 60m gets you down) rap. Mar 6, 2007
Tyler Logan
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Tyler Logan   Mammoth Lakes, CA
Route-finding on the Ibrium Tower traverse is slightly tricky. Keep looking for the best place to move right, and don't go too high (although if you do, the climbing actually looks pretty good, just harder). The traverse itself is really class 4 if you take it right. The pitch leading back up to the top of the tower has some of the worst rock on the climb and there are many ways to go, some more solid than others. There is another alarmingly loose pitch leading up to the gendarme (I believe). Other than those two pitches, the rest of the climb is pretty solid. Mar 27, 2008
When you are getting ready to traverse right around the Iberium tower, instead of traversing you can punch right up to the center of the tower. If you do these two alternative pitches you will be super stoked. They both go at 5.9 and are incredible, the first one is some kind of funky (but super fun) finger crack action, and the second is a "splitter" hand crack. This variation made the route for me, it was probably the best quality rock on the whole climb. Oct 6, 2008
Chris M
Hailey, ID
Chris M   Hailey, ID
Agree with Jake here; Ibirium Tower direct cracks are the best climbing and rock on the route and make the route 5.9. This route has more loose rock than the Venusian Blind. Oct 17, 2009
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Onsight soloed this last summer. Some exposure, but as with many High Sierra routes it is not sustained. Added a photo with the route annotated on Ibrium Tower. Some loose rock, but I did not find it to be particularly sketchy.

Bring a topo if it's your first time to avoid unnecessary epics. Apr 30, 2010
Justin Tomlinson
Monrovia, CA
Justin Tomlinson   Monrovia, CA
An historical perspective, this route (as well as Venitian Blind) was rated III, 5.6 in Steve Roper's "Climber's Guide to the High Sierra" in 1976. Jan 28, 2012
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
That's the route description I used to climb the route in the 80's. Feb 2, 2013
Joe Crawford
June Lake, California
Joe Crawford   June Lake, California
No where near as good as its neighbors. The climbing is only fun in short sections and the rock is much looser than anywhere on Venusian, SR or Dark Star. Aug 10, 2017
Brice Pollock
Oakland, CA
  5.8 PG13
Brice Pollock   Oakland, CA  
  5.8 PG13
Attempted this route on July 1 using the Supertopo trying to avoid a 4 party shit show on Venusian. Spent multiple hours trying to figure out the traverse on pitch 9 before nearly dislodging a refrigerator sized block with runout pro and bailing down the left gulley. If anyone can share a detailed description of the traverse I'm sure the community would benefit because there are slings everywhere and down both gullies.

  • Bailing down the climbers-left gulley from pitch 8 is doable with rappel stations set up for a single rope rappel.
  • Rap stations are mostly slung blocks, often with multiple slings and often with those slings being quite sun-worn.

The confusing parts of the supertopo:
  • Pitch 8 shows climbing to a slung block, but actually the place with all the slings is easily missed and much more left than the exit of the chimney
  • Pitch 9 shows itself as a full pitch past belay at the block, but it was only 120 ft from the notch to the quartz veins so ???
  • Assuming that the second quartz vein is where you traverse...the first 10ft down climb is easy but the 'good' ledge system (there are multiple) is still another 20-30 ft below involving technical down climbing that will be unprotected for a follower. This doesn't match any descriptions.
  • None of the features besides the veins marked on the supertopo on pitch 9 are recognizable on the route.
  • Pitches 11 and 12 show features that don't really match anything on the other side of the ledge systems so you don't know if you are too low or too high.

Confusing parts on the route:
  • Any way you go right, there will be bail slings. These bail slings don't tell you much about where to go. (or not go)
  • There are multiple ledge systems right. The lower ones look best, but there doesn't seem to be a 3-4th class way to get to them.
Jul 4, 2018
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
Sorry I can't really help you Brice - I climbed the Ibrium Tower to a ledge on the right edge, about 1/2 way up. Then traversed right around the corner and made my way diagonally up and rightwards to the gully which leads to the notch above/behind the tower. I don't remember it being difficult - loose yes. I climbed it in the 80's and there were no slings on the climb at all - I didn't have a topo. That's all I remember. When in doubt follow your nose. In my opinion the route description in the Supertopo Sierra Guide seems adequate but descriptions which rely on temporary installations (slings) are never ideal. Jul 5, 2018