OverviewA fine route in the lower Pitches. Above it gets a bit loose and the difficulty backs off. An alternate finish to the route exists as described below by Brutus of Wyde
Getting ThereUse the S Fork Big Pine Creek trail to Brainard Lk. From there find a use trail that climbs toward the west up to Finger Lk. Good camps can be made here. From Finger Lk. Head up morainal material and contour onto the glacier east of Norman Clyde's NE ridge. For the direct start head toward prominent water fall to the crack system just left of the water.
It also possible to reach the route from Elinore Lake. Contour over to the base of the NE ridge and climb a ledge system to reach the circular snowfield. This route cannot logically be linked to the direct start as climbing back down to the glacier on the W side of the ridge would be required. See Descent in route description.
Route DescriptionFor the direct start climb a low angle crack system, some 5.7 to the lower part of the Eagle Face below the large snowfield. ("Circular snowfield" as described in guidebooks.) From there scramble up to where the pillar steepens and a good belay platform will be found. P1: 5.8+ Climb a steep dihedral with a stuck camalot about 20 ft. up. Continue up this until an obvious exit to the face on the left. Climb a short distance up this face and step right back into the dihedral. Sustained climbing will eventually lead to a good belay platform with an old anchor piton. A 50 mtr. rope will just reach this ledge. P2: 5.7+ at the beginning. Start up the crack (almost overhanging)and make gradual progress slightly right.
The step across crux mentioned in guidebooks seemed to us to be a non-issue. Pleasant climbing leads up to a large block for belay platform. From here the climbing eased and became loose in areas. Several pitches of 5.6 or 7. Follow a shallow gully system just right of the prow of the pillar containing slabs and short walls to the summit ridge about 50 linear ft. from the summit.
Scenes from the climb:
Alternate finish:The direct 5.10 exit to the pillar mentioned in the Moynier/Fiddler guide does not follow the prow of the pillar for its entirety, rather I added the exit as a variation to the final pitch when Brennan and I did it years ago. When it is very clear that you are nearing the summit ridge, hand traverse out left from the regular finish on an obvious horizontal crack. A few 5.10 moves through this area bring you to the very summit. The finish is similar in exposure and feeling to (though the moves in no way resemble) the last pitch of Third Pillar of Dana. -Brutus
Descent is via the NE ridge and is long and somewhat tedious. A couple raps on the downclimb eases things a bit. Find the traverse over to the top of the lower (flatter) section of the ridge. The highest crossover point is exactly where the ridge flattens out and is marked with cairns. Follow the ridge down easily and drop off the west side at the low spot and down climb to the glacier.
Scenes from the descent: