I am looking into the St. Jean couloir on Split Mountain for late next spring/early summer. I did the Mountaineer's Route on Whitney a few years back. The two routes look fairly similar in geography. Obviously Moutaineer's gets a lot more traffic, and I would guess is technically easier, but it is hard to get a sense of a route just by the ratings.
I am wondering how the two might compare for level of difficulty, risk, exposure, gear, etc. Anybody who's done both care to comment?
I think it would depend on the conditions and the time of year you would do it. I never went up Mountaineer's Route, went down it many times and in all seasons. Climbed St Jean solo in late October a few years back on solid alpine ice. In those conditions you cannot compare the two. The MR has a bit of ice at the top, most of the route is snow and there are no issues to speak of. The St Jean had a shrund when I was there, it was steep, all ice. Above it were several ice steps of about 40 degrees or so, all ice climbing, not much hiking at all. In my book, and in those conditions, St Jean is much more serious proposition because it needs to be climbed. Not sure what you might find in early summer, propably just deep snow, in which case St Jean would be just a bit steeper than MR. It might actually be the best route (and a quickest way) to get to the summit of Split with descent of the N Ridge to Red Lake and out.
After the post from Climber Dave, I looked at my notes from the St Jean climb in October 99. The shround was 60 feet of vertical terrain and above it, 6 or 7 steps of about 45 degrees (my estimate). I was (on purpose) looking for anything just a bit steeper, so I took the steps "head on". They all could be by-passed. There was ice all the way to the ridge, no bare spots at all. I used two ice tools all the way. The gully is somewhat narrow, it has distinct and defined rock ridges on both sides of it. I also noted "dirty" sections, it must mean rocks and stuff imbedded in the ice.
After low snow year, I'm sure it would not take long, for large sections of it to be just dirt.But back to the OP; MR is predominantly just a snow walk and a bit of a rock scramble with a little ice in early and late season, St. Jean would not be that easy in any conditions.