Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Classic Rock Climbs in the Sierra Nevada

Ping can't believe how good the East Buttress of Whitney is
When it comes to rock climbing in the mountains, we sure have it made in the Sierra Nevada. The approaches are generally short or on decent trails, the weather is stable and consistent, and the granite is just so dang good!  Whether you want to feel the air under your feet and scramble up exposed ridgelines to lofty summits or lace up your climbing shoes and pull difficult moves on alpine walls, there are objectives to satisfy climbers of all abilities. 

High on the Buttress
We have been quite lucky so far this summer, with clear skies, warm temps and little wildfire smoke to contend with. With these favorable conditions, guests have been coming from around the country to climb some of the most classic High Sierra rock routes with me over the past couple weeks.
Bear Creek Spire in the evening light
Gavin ascends the North Arete

 Intermediate climbers should consider the classic East Buttress of Mount Whitney or the North Arete of Bear Creek Spire. Both are Grade III climbs that ascend moderate technical terrain up to a high summit, and are wildly exposed in places.
Charlotte Dome, with the Great Western Divide in the distance
 Those with more climbing experience, or who seek a lower altitude adventure, should look at the South Face of Charlotte Dome, one of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America. This route is 12 pitches long, up a beautiful orange granite face and looks down on the massive Kings Canyon gorge.
Melissa follows the infamous Slot pitch
 And those feeling like really pushing themselves, the Third Pillar of Dana, Regular Route, is perhaps the most classic climb of its type in the area. With 5 pitches of mostly 5.9 and 5.10- crack climbing, leading to an ultimate pitch that may be the finest in the Sierra, it is a rewarding day mission with great views the whole way.
The best 5.9 pitch in the universe? You'll have to be the judge!
 Summer isn't over yet, not by a long shot, and although I go up to Washington State for an AMGA (American Mountain Guides Association) Alpine Course/Exam for a couple weeks, September looks like it will also be a good climbing month with more trips up Whitney, Temple Crag, the Palisade Traverse and more! Stay tuned...