The "Royal Arches" of the Portal. A long, wandering adventure route up a huge chunk of stone. Too long for me to try and remember all the twists and turns, but the first ascensionist did a pretty good write-up HERE
. The first 1,500 feet will destroy your legs. Steep 3rd and 4th class slabs, with short and intermittent exposed 5th class sections. A short pendulum swing from a fixed rope (A0) can also be freed at a committing 5.9 grade. Many back and forths on brushy ledges, with cairns painstakingly placed at every turn in the road. Literally. Dozens and dozens of cairns. Keep your eyes open and it would be impossible to get lost. I personally thought the crux of the route was somewhere around the 1,200' mark - a 20 foot piece of blank slab with true friction moves. Even if roping up/pitching out, the leader will need to be confident soloing at this grade, as there is no protection for some of these sections. The highlights of the route are the two 500-foot left-facing dihedrals to finish - a nice change from the slabby nature of the lower half of the climb. Great views from the summit of Mt Williamson to the north and the Whitney group to the west.
The route starts in the gully between the Whitney Portal Buttress and the Bullfrog Buttress. Hike up the main Whitney Trail until you reach the signed Carillon Creek drainage. Scramble up steep scree until you hit the gully. Let the adventure begin...
To descend - follow a steep scree gully/slope the the west, generally staying to the right when confronted with challenges. A short cruxy downclimb can be bypassed by way of fixed knotted rope. Enter the Carillon drainage and 'shwack your way back down to the Whitney Trail.
I know of only solo parties who have done the route, but a rope and light rack wouldn't go unused for many. Beware that the slabby sections are not well protected if you do choose to rope up. Pitching it out will likely turn this jaunt into an all-day effort.
From: nevada city, ca
May 15, 2015
Did this route a few days ago and it was awesome, truly an adventure! Thanks Myles for all the hard work building the cairns and steps. They made route finding pretty easy, although we never saw the pendulum swing. We brought a rope and light rack and we were thankful to have it since a few sections were still wet and snowy. The last dihedral makes the route. We botched the descent and stayed too far left, got cliffed out and had to hike back up and west to the proper gully. wound up taking us about 9 hours car to car.
By Dave Daly
From: Kernville, CA
Apr 8, 2016
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b A0
Part of the FA effort back in 2013 w/Myles. Stellar addition to the Portal area! An excellent adventure route! Highlights: 'The Pocket Pussy' at the A0 pendy and The Love Cave feature at the first dihedral before the Wrinkled Lady. And, of course, the best for last.....The Wrinkled Lady Dihedral pitch. Gotta personally thank David Gilmour for an inspirational route name :) Ummagumma, BABY!!