Type: Trad, Snow, Alpine, 300 ft, 3 pitches, Grade II
FA: Preston Rhea - 4.10.12
Page Views: 2,221 total · 36/month
Shared By: Preston Rhea on Dec 25, 2013
Admins: Aron Quiter, Euan Cameron, AWinters, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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The route name accurately describes the route in full: climb the central gully on the east face of Crystal Crag. Beyond the boring name and description, it is a fine winter route on a fun and easily accessible peak. The first known ascent was done in winter conditions so the route description will reflect that.

The route starts immediately with a short step of steep though blocky and moderate rock climbing (5.7). The step gives way to lower angle slabs with more of a "mixed" quality. Above the slabs the upper snowfield can be readily seen. Take a more or less straight line to the summit avoiding rock bands where needed to the south (climber's left).


The route starts in the gully immediately south (looker's left) of the Schoolboy Buttress. On the right side of the gully is the sport climb Bagpipe, an 8 bolt, 11a that follows a prominent blunt arete left of an overhanging face.

To descend, use the West Face or South Arete routes on Crystal Crag, both in the summer are rated 3rd class.


A standard alpine rock rack should suffice. Pickets or stakes for snow protection may or may not be usable on the upper snowfield.
Preston Rhea
Mammoth Lakes
  5.7 Mod. Snow
Preston Rhea   Mammoth Lakes
  5.7 Mod. Snow
I soloed this route in a fairly low snow year (Mammoth Mountain Ski Area reported 263 inches of snow for the 11/12 season). The upper snowfield was fully "in" however. It is unknown to me if I actually did the first ascent since Crystal Crag is such a close and popular summit in an area with a long history of climbing. There are two routes, mentioned in Mammoth Area Rock Climbs by Marty Lewis and John Moynier, that are close to the route I took, but distinctly different. In the summer, the climb would be ugly, as the upper snowfield would be replaced by loose moderate slabs. From asking around, as much as I can tell the line had not yet been climbed, at least in winter conditions. If anyone here knows more than I, I'd love to hear about it and will gladly change the FA information. Dec 25, 2013
Ian McEleney
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Ian McEleney   Mammoth Lakes, CA
Climbed this 5 days ago. It was cold (7F at Twin Lakes at 8am) and there was snow on the route. The route gets pretty much no sun at this time of year. We started the same but dealt with the snowfield differently than Preston's description.

We climbed the first step in about 30m to a ledge. From here we climbed another maybe 30m pitch left and up. These two pitches were fairly easy, we felt like they clocked in at maybe M3. From here we climbed easier terrain for 50m+ following the lower left edge of the snowfield in Preston's beta photo. Finally another long pitch directly to the summit up a low angle slab covered in snow. The rock quality on this last pitch was good but because it was less featured and covered in snow it was an interesting lead.

We brought a single rack from .3 - 3 BD and a few small pins. Dec 3, 2015