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East Face

East Face

East Face

Page Type: Route

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 36.57860°N / 118.293°W

Object Title: East Face

Route Type: technical rock

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: grade III 5.6-5.9

Route Quality: 
 - 23 Votes


Page By: ron

Created/Edited: Oct 5, 2001 / Oct 2, 2002

Object ID: 155828

Hits: 43308 

Page Score: 79.78%  - 11 Votes 

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From the Whiney Portal follow the trail to Mt. Whitney approximately 1 mile to where Lone Pine Creek crosses the trail. Leave the trail and hike up Lone Pine Creek about 1/2 mile and ascend a steep slope to the Ebersbacher Ledges. Head east on the ledges and continue up stream to Lower Boy Scout Lake. Continue up the canyon and pass Upper Boy Scout Lake and cross the outlet of the lake and head due south up talus slopes. At the top of the talus field head right to the base of the small cliffs that lead to Iceberg Lake at the base of Mt. Whitney. The cliff band before Iceberg Lake can be wet/icy early morning or early season.

Route Description

From Iceberg Lake climb scree slopes up to the base of the promiment tower called The First Tower, approach this tower on its right side and get situated between the First Tower and the East Buttress. Rope up and climb out left for the exposed Tower Traverse. The step across is extremely exposed but easy with fair protection. This ends at the top of a small chimney. From here continue up 4th class ledges know as the Washboard which ends in a large alcove. Traverse left and over small walls and then drop down to a corner that shoots left. From this corner either climb the Direct Crack (5.9) directly up or continue traversing left until you come to a block. This is the start of the Fresh Air Traverse. A long step across with HUGE exposure (5.4)continues left to a smooth face and a broken chimney. This climbing ends at the Grand Staircase, a series of steps which end at a wall. Exit via a tight chimney on the left and scramble up blocks to the summit. If doing the Direct Crack (5.9) this will lead directly to the Grand Staircase and eliminate 2-3 pitches of the Fresh Air Traverse. Descend the Mountaineers Route

Essential Gear

A small rack of medium to large cams, large hexes and nuts with plenty of long runners. For sure bring a helmet and leave it on until you exit the Mountaineers Route at the bottom. Depending on time of year, snow pack and time of day, crampons and an axe are necessary. Night temperature always are cold so bring appropriate gear if spending the night. Get an early start. Permits are required in this entire region and can be obtained in the town of Lone Pine.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-5 of 5    
rpcRoute Comment


Hasn't voted

If you avoid the Direct Crack (5.9), you can keep the level at and below 5.6 for the entire climb? Is that right? That is what "Climbing California's High Sierra" claims. How many pitches total?

Much thanks.

Posted Sep 30, 2002 10:13 am
ScottySRoute Comment


Hasn't voted

If the Direct Crack is avoided, the hardest move becomes the off-width crack at the top of the Staircase (5.6-5.7). When Barry and I did the East Face, we only roped up for 4 pitches, but I think the total would be 16(?).

Posted Sep 30, 2002 2:58 pm
peakjunkieRoute Comment


Hasn't voted

Agreed - just did it and used the rope for only 250' total - four places:

The start

The solo the washboard up and over and down.

The fresh air traverse

The chimney above the fresh air traverse

Solo the Grand Staircase.

Take off pack - leader free solo the crack with rope on and then pull up packs.

Belay up second then solo to the top on 4th class big blocks.

Posted Sep 30, 2002 8:28 pm
rpcRoute Comment


Hasn't voted

there's some pretty useful info. in these comments I think - would be nice if it could be added to the main route description page before some of it gets accidentally deleted.

much thanks.

Posted Nov 5, 2002 1:33 pm
granite7Great High Sierra Route


Hasn't voted

I've climbed the East Face a couple times. The last time was a free solo of the entire route. One day push: 13 hours car to car. My guide book states 5.4 but more like 5.7 due to exposure, length, and altitude considerations. I got a little altitude sickness because I ran the trail section to the base of the East Face and then climbed the route a little too fast. By the time I reached the Grand Staircase, I was feeling nauseous and had a big headache. I just pushed through the summit blocks and after a 10 min rest on top headed down the hikers trail expediently. As soon as I hit 9500 feet, I was almost back to normal and then ran the trail back to the Portals. It was truly an awesome day.
Posted Jul 26, 2015 2:50 am

Viewing: 1-5 of 5