Type: Trad, Mixed, Ice, Alpine, 3000 ft, 6 pitches
FA: Joe LeMay & Miguel Carmona 06/2005. FWA: Scotty Nelson & Charles Ince 03/2007
Page Views: 264 total · 168/month
Shared By: Richard Shore on Apr 9, 2019
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Certain Peaks: Access limited from May to October every year Details

Description

A contender for the best technical winter mixed climb in the High Sierra. The "big brother" to the standard Winter Route next door. Much like that route, this one holds little visual appeal as a summer rock climb, but in winter when filled with frozen snowmelt from above it becomes a much more interesting and tantalizing endeavor. Depending on the source this route is listed as Grade III or IV. Expect a full day with the approach and long descent.

Some helpful resources:
Summer Rock Route Beta
First Winter Ascent Trip Report
Second Winter Ascent Trip Report

Aspect: south facing wall from 10,000-12,000'. It seems that the best conditions are found in the first week of March (maybe late February as well) on BIG snow years. A healthy winter snowpack on the summit plateau helps feed the ice that forms within the chimney system and is necessary to fill in the lower-elevation approach gullies. The first winter ascent occurred in a relative drought in 2007, and they found some ice and climbed half the route in rock shoes. The second winter ascent and our following one were done in 2017 (200+% of normal) and 2019 (~170%) in full ice and mixed conditions with almost no "pure" rock climbing. By mid-March the south facing wall is roasting in the sun. Some subsequent ascents in late March and early April 2019 reported finding little-to-no ice and wishing they had brought rock shoes instead. The topo posted here is representative of the route in good late winter form and should not be used in lieu of good judgement - make smart decisions. The route can be glassed from the trailhead.

The crux P5 roof can supposedly be bypassed by tunneling up deeper into the chimney and out a small birthing hole onto the belay ledge. This “thin man’s squeeze” was impassable for my larger frame. I could barely even push my helmet through the hole above me - as such I suspect the blocks in the chimney may have shifted here.

Location

The steeper, tiered corner system immediately right of the Winter Route gully. 

Protection

2 x to 2", 1 x 3', a few short ice screws

Photos

Ziggy Chalkdust
nowhere
Ziggy Chalkdust   nowhere
There are several variations one may take to get up this route.

For full alpine value, one should leave the rock shoes at home. Even in late season the dry tooling on this route was a hoot. There are other routes in California to don rock shoes for.

Be forewarned, the approach is not trivial, the descent is longer than the approach, and there are plenty of "don't fuck up" spots while on the route.

The ashram makes for a very memorable bivy, and don't miss the mixed pitch connecting the two approach gullies that this route shares with the winter route. Apr 17, 2019