Type: Trad, Alpine, 2000 ft (606 m), 16 pitches, Grade V
FA: Don Jensen, John Fischer, Keith Brueckner, Doug Robinson, Gordon Wiltsie, Jay Jensen - 1971 to 1975
Page Views: 35,558 total · 170/month
Shared By: Ryan Franz on Apr 11, 2007
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurk Er, Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer Ski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Description Suggest change

One of Peter Croft's "Big Four Free Climbs" of the High Sierra (see Peter's book here).

This is possibly the most direct line on Temple Crag, taking a plumb line from the lowest point of the face to the top. Either start from the nadir of the face and climb 400 feet of lower class 5, or walk up around the left side and traverse back right on a large ledge.

Climb up to a small, right facing dihedral and climb it (crux). On the next pitch, work your way up and left to a crack below a chimney. Get into the chimney, eventually tunneling through to get to more moderate ground above.

From here it is mainly alpine ridge climbing, with a few steps which can be tackled straight on or avoided to the side. Eventually you reach the top of Temple Crag. Whew!

Pitch by pitch

Rack-Heavy on the thin stuff, lots of slings, extra thin nuts. You may not even need a #4...or 3!

P1-5.10b After you've scrambled up to the base and made some 4th class moves out to the pedestal proper, you'll be looking at some dihedrals and thinking "what wild quartz" if you've got the same topo we did. Careful examination of the photos here might jog your memory. Feel free to download them to your smart card and pop them in your camera! This pitch is steep and mostly fun with a hard 10 move in the corner.

P2-5.8 Head up the corner to the top. Short pitch with a bolt. Steep and fun. Possible to combine 1 and 2.

P3-5.9 Traverse left for perhaps 40' but don't go to the end of the ledges way left. Look for a seemingly improbable corner with a lazer split super thin crack in a small golden corner. This seemed hard to me. Funky pins at belay mark the way, supplement with thin wires.

P3-5.7 Head straight up featured rock, aiming for the obvious chimney. I think we combined this with P4 on the topo to take us to the base of the chimney.

P4/5-5.8 Very cool (even cold) chimney. The crux is dragging packs through it. Not as hard as Valley 5.8 thankfully. Plenty of great holds inside. Great pitch.

P6-5.8-ish. You are now on the ridge! Follow cracks up, generally maybe staying on the right side. Be careful as much choss abounds from this point on.

P7-3rd/4th Same as P6.

P8-3rd/4th Same as it ever was...try to meter your energy, plenty of climbing left!

P9-5.7 You made it! (to the top of the lower buttress). This next pitch was wild and runout but easy. Trending to the left, face climb up lovely grey rock. Some harder moves surmounting a small roof were better protected near the top.

P10-5.7 Our topo and route seemed to deviate here. We stayed left and avoided a 5.10 roof on the topo. Seemed about 5.7 or 8, and mostly face rather than the 5.7 wide on the topo.

P11-More 4th, staying on the right side of the ridge in general was the ticket for us. I think this may have been the Dark Star pitch, an incredibly amazing crystal hole. If you keep your eyes peeled, you just might see it.

P12-14 (5th)-From here, another set of deviations from the topo. We started to simul a bit and solo here for several hundred feet. We also rapped and downclimbed across to the sandy gap. There was some fixed gear. We made a second downclimb after the rappel a ways further on the ridge. The 5.10 variation on the last buttress looks wonderful, but really greasy in the blazing sun. We wandered around in the gully on the left.

P15-More 4th and 5th, gully whomping. Looks like you'd be rapping/traving little towers and generally "unclean" climbing if you were staying on the ridge proper (via the 5.10 mentioned above).

P16-4th Top out on ridge. From here you can drop all ropes and gear if you are confident on hideously exposed 3rd class about 50' from the top of the summit. Watch yerself around the keyhole...

Descent-work your way down the gully a long, long ways. Stay up high and go straight down before it steepens dramatically and drops to the right. Scrambling down a ton of exposed ledges and steppes will lead to an obvious rappel on blocks to the very top of Contact Pass.

Alternatively, I've gone down the aforementioned gully...there are anchors (bolted iirc) but you end up way below the pass and have to scramble up sand to get to the pass proper. Expect "1 step forward, 2 step back" if you do this.

Once on Contact, pick your way down. It will probably be horrible, so expect loose blocks, sandy crap and everything in between.
Best of luck. Last time we got lucky and glissaded a bunch, but the other times I've had a terrifically bad time route finding this choss.

Once you're back at camp, yell a loud "braaaack"! You just did DS!

Protection Suggest change

Standard alpine rack. Go light and your legs will thank you on the final ridge.