Type: Trad, Alpine, 1500 ft, 13 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Don Jensen, S. Petroff, and A. Walker
Page Views: 29,674 total · 205/month
Shared By: Michael Schneiter on Mar 9, 2007
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Venusian Blind is another of the great, adventurous arete climbs on Temple Crag. Depending on your climbing tastes and personal experience on the route, this may be a dream climb or a nervous adventure bordering on epic. For my wife and I, it was a little of both as a 3 foot square block she was standing on ripped off the wall while leading the first roped pitch, nearly bringing a quick demise to both of us.

Venusian shares the start with Moon Goddess Arete, thus making it a good alternative if there are already parties on Moon Goddess. As seen in photos, there is one snow chute that is longer and splits the wall between Sun Ribbon Arete and Moon Goddess Arete. Climb this snowfield to a snow and rock traverse to gain the base of Venusian and Moon Goddess. The snowfield is steep enough to warrant crampons or the proper snow conditions and experience for competent parties without crampons.

Approximately 300 feet of 3rd and 4th class climbing will take you to a series of ledges where the wall steepens. It's on this terrain that Moon Goddess splits off right and Venusian goes up left. The beginning of the route is marked by a short, right facing corner where most will want to rope up.

From here the climb ascends the arete for several pitches, sometimes climbing left or right from the arete proper. Depending on rope length and how you piece pitches together, it seems you can do this route in as few as five or six pitches with some simul-climbing, or up to 11 pitches from the end of the 3rd and 4th class climbing.

There appeared to be many options and even with careful scrutiny of the topo, we found ourselves off route, but never in dangerous climbing or difficulty. There are a couple of impasses of note. First, if done pitch by pitch according to SuperTopo, you can go left or right around the arete on pitch 7. Left is reportedly the best way but we went right because it seemed more obvious and it was clean and straight forward. At the 10th pitch, you top out on a small tower and then encounter a 25 foot traverse across a notch with no protection on precariously stacked blocks. A short downclimb is required to get into the notch. On the other side of the notch is a pitch with a couple of fixed pins, thus providing assurance that you're on route. At the top of this pitch is a hidden anchor on the left side of the arete, facing the gully. You can rappel 60 feeet from here into the gully and climb 3rd and 4th class for 20 minutes to the summit plateau. Or, you can continue on the arete for a few more pitches to the top.

To descend, go east on a climbers' trail towards Contact Pass. The trail eventually turns into 3rd class above the pass and then steepens to 4th and 5th class where most climbers rappel 80 feet from slings to the pass. From here, rock slide and glissade back to the lakes.

Overall, this route seemed relatively quick and easy. Alpine rock climbing skills including route-finding ability, being comfortable on fragile rock and the ability to move fast are probably necessary. Hence, it's not the first alpine climb you would want to go on but it's a worthy outing for an experienced rock alpinist.


Venusian Blind climbs the arete left of Moon Goddess Arete, sharing the same start.


Standard alpine rack of stoppers and cams up to 2" and many slings.
Oakland CA
caughtinside   Oakland CA
Terrific route. 90% of the climbing is 5.4 or easier, much 4th class. All the bits of .7 are short and have good pro.

We took an alpine rack of 7 cams and 7 stoppers which was totally adequate. Nothing bigger than a #2 camalot necessary.

Our time on the route, pitching it out with a 60m rope was 4.5 hours at a mellow pace.

Be sure to tag the summit once you get to the top of the route, which is about another 30 min or so of talus scrambling. Jul 15, 2008
Pete Hickman
Tacoma, WA
Pete Hickman   Tacoma, WA
The scramble up from the snow around to the start of the route was much harder to figure than I anticipated. Not finding it, we ended up off route in gullies the whole climb on constantly loose rock. Make sure you know how to identify the start of the route. Stop at second lake and scope the route since you can't really see it from third lake. There is a rap anchor (slings) above a gully as you traverse around to the start of the route. Don't be fooled by the additional anchor (slings and nuts) at the bottom of the short rap into the gully. Keep moving to the short right facing corner and you should be on track. Great climb. We woke up at 3am at third lake and bailed off of the anchor at pitch ten at 7:30pm and didn't get back to camp until 12:30am. A route finding disaster! Aug 16, 2008
PumpkinEater   Sacramento
Although the climbing on the Venusian is relatively easy, you shouldn't take the routes on Temple too lightly. An "Accidents in N American Mountaneering" a few years back described an incident where a young woman who'd been soloing routes of similar length and difficulty elsewhere in the Sierra (e.g. Cathedral Peak) fell to her death soloing this very route. The speculation was she wasn't familiar with the more fickle nature of the rock and trickier nature of the routes in this area. Temple Crag is hardly a "crag", it's a mountain for sure. Apr 15, 2009
Bill Kelly
Lake Tahoe
Bill Kelly   Lake Tahoe
Reminder: Since opportunities abound on this route to set up belays out of the way of rockfall (e.g., from rope drag or from the leader or from rope whip in the case of leader fall), it makes sense to take advantage of them. Aug 1, 2009
Chris M
Hailey, ID
Chris M   Hailey, ID
Great route. Not much loose rock by alpine standards. Pitch for pitch, I prefer this route to Moon Goddess. Don't underestimate Temple Crag- the descent is not something you want to do in the dark if you haven't been there before. Oct 17, 2009
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
  5.7 R
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
  5.7 R
Preferred Moon Goddess to this route. We were probably off route but..there was one steep mid class 5 pitch about halfway up the route that was an absolute house of cards, very large loose flakes everywhere just waiting to be pulled on by the inattentive leader. Feb 8, 2010
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Moon Goddess is a better route hands down. Unlike Mt Goode the loose rock on Temple is largely avoidable. It's an alpine route; there's going to be some loose rock. Aug 23, 2010
Justin Tomlinson
Monrovia, CA
Justin Tomlinson   Monrovia, CA
An historical perspective, this route (as well as Moon Goddess) was rated III, 5.6 in Steve Roper's "Climber's Guide to the High Sierra" in 1976. Jan 28, 2012
Justin York
Phoenix, AZ
Justin York   Phoenix, AZ
I was surprised how good this route was. Did it the day after Sun Ribbon, and I have to admit, I think I enjoyed it more. The rock is of amazing quality, and the climbing is really fun and casual. We did it in 3 long pitches of simulclimbing, finishing in a few hours. So much fun. Do it! Mar 18, 2012
harihari   VANCOUVER
I soloed this; it took maybe 1.5 hours. Michael Schneiter's beta is good, but I managed either to downclimb or bypass the Ibrium Tower (no idea where that traverse is). Excellent rock; what is loose is easy to avoid. The best climbing (and rock) is almost always on the arĂȘte. And those scary-looking towers always have easy ways off the back-- near the top I did maybe 3 5.8 moves to get off the last tower. Ignore Supertopo-- just stick to the arĂȘte andnyou'll have a great time! Aug 13, 2012
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
  5.7 R
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
  5.7 R
We climbed this route using Roper's little green book, a very long time ago and like I said, we were probably off route, hence the much looser than your average vertical alpine pitch - please read what I preface my remarks with. Nov 22, 2013
Blacksburg, VA
AndyPetersen   Blacksburg, VA
We are thinking of climbing this route in the August time frame.
Could someone with experience on the route please advise for approximate climbing time (tent to tent) maybe broken down by:

Approach time:
Climbing time:
Decent time:

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Apr 28, 2014
Jon W
Bishop, CA
Jon W   Bishop, CA
We got off route a bit and encountered some harder and looser rock, but our route involved tunneling through an eye in the arete a little below pitch 10. Very cool. May 15, 2014
Chris D
the couch
Chris D   the couch
For the weekend warrior who drives up after work on a Friday, hikes into Third Lake and gets to sleep around 2am, here's what you can expect, time-wise:

09:00: Leave camp
11:30: Gain the 3rd class ramps to the rope-up point
14:00: Catch the party of four ahead of you
17:30: Everyone's on the summit having a laugh and a snack
18:40: Rap down to Contact Pass
20:45: Back at camp if you manage to follow the cairns through the boulder field in the dark.

You could, of course, do it faster, but this was our day this past Saturday.

This climb reminded me more of climbing at Tahquitz than anything else I can think of. There was a LOT less loose rock than I expected. If you stay on the arete, it's as casual, clean, and safe as anything I've been on in the Sierra at the grade. The third/fourth class stuff is fun and the pitches of fifth class are usually full pitches of fifth class. A spectacular day in the mountains.

Here's an album of photos Aug 29, 2016
We did this climb last weekend and I was surprised by how good this was.

Approach / Descent: You didn't strictly need crampons or axes for either (although we had both and used them) given that there were already clear steps cut up to the start and the snow on the descent in Contact Pass was soft enough to be mellow. The rappel anchor would be difficult to find in the dark but if you wander down the obvious climber trails towards Contact Pass, there are cairns that will guide you in the right direction.

Route: I found the ST topo to be spot on for the whole route after the "boulder belay" on top of the first tower. Between the start of the 5th class climbing (which is in the obvious right facing corner) and the top of the first pillar I think we were a bit right of the actual route. Anyway, there was an awesome finger crack in a corner that was probably 5.8 that we went up for a ways before rejoining the route. It was stellar.

All in all, I think the climbing is better than E Buttress of Whitney. Enjoy! Jun 19, 2018
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Especially if you're soloing the right-hand variation on pitch 7 per Supertopo be heads-up. If you go too far before you traverse back left you'll end up on terrain much harder than 5.7 and either have to downclimb or make an awkward traverse. If I had to guess where the 2 soloists decked from it would be here given that it's easy to get lulled into the harder terrain. Jun 27, 2018
Kyle McCrohan
Brier, WA
Kyle McCrohan   Brier, WA
If the snow is mostly gone from the lakes, I would recommend approaching from Third Lake not Second. The talus traverse from Second is more direct, but more tedious and slow. In early July, crampons and ice axe were not needed to cross the snow because there was so much rock and dirt covering the suncups.

The route is not as loose as some people say, and pro is there when you need it. The route finding is very fun and not too challenging, we used the McNamara guide. I think we did 9 or 10 pitches to the "hidden" rappel anchor (pretty easy to find).

Note that it is probably 30-40 min of scrambling for most parties to the true summit from the top of the route. On the descent, stay skier's right when the paths split and you'll find a single 30m rappel.

Long day, 15 hr car-to-car at a relaxed pace, but well worth it. Single rack of cams and nuts. Sep 13, 2018