ApproachSecor rates the West Face class 3, but it could be some of the hardest class 3 one could find in the Sierra. Finding the start of the route is the one of the hardest parts of this route with tricky route-finding.
From Rae Col, head north along the ridge, descending several hundred feet on the west side as you go. If you stay along the ridge you will find your self at the start of the South Buttress, and a steep downclimb to the base of the West Face. Better to lose elevation before getting to Fin Dome.
Once on the southwest side of Fin Dome, Secor says to climb to the top of the talus fan. Be warned the most obvious talus fan leads up a narrow chute on the right side to the start of the South Buttress - you cannot get on to the West Face route from this chute even though you can climb out of the chute to the left. Best to avoid it altogether and look for a less-obvious talus fan to the left (north). It's somewhat vague, but generally follows to the highest part on the face with alpine greenery growing amongst the talus. A decent-sized pine grows here, but there are a number of trees growing on the West Face and this is not a definitive marker. Check out the pictures below for more help.
Route DescriptionThe route follows a zigzagging pattern on its way up the West Face. The description given here may or may not look like anything you find on the route, so I appologize in advance. The route-finding is tricky, but use your basic instincts to look for the easiest line. If it looks harder than class 3, you may not be off route. If it looks harder than class 4, you probably are.
From the top of the talus fan, climb up and left over a series of ledges and easy cracks. A short downclimb of about 10 feet is necessary to continue progress up and to the left. The route then steepens up a large slab with finger cracks and friction providing your only holds. Where this hits class 5 rock, the route turns sharply to the right. Here is the crux, a 15-foot traverse along a steep slab with underclinging handholds at shin level. Across the traverse climb an 8-foot obstacle to a nice ledge above. Follow the ledge south (right), looking for ways to make further upward progress. There are several places one has to make class 4 moves up to the next ledge, but the exposure is minimal. Continue zigzagging as needed. There are some ducks that should help you with route-finding, but these don't start until half-way up the route. There is also more than one way to go (unlike what some trip reports describe), so look for the way that makes you most comfortable. The last quarter of the route is easy scrambling to the summit. You will be south of the summit when you reach the top of West Face. There is a classic aluminum Sierra Club register box amongst the summit rocks.