Approach**APPROACH UPDATE: The picnic table mentioned in Marc Chauvin's beta (http://www.chauvinguides.com/gilmanguide.htm) for the Whitney-Gilman approach is no longer there as of mid-June 2012. See updated approach description below:
From the Old Man parking lot on the 93 Southbound side (don't forget to sign in at the register) walk along the bike path for approximately 10 minutes. Note the first small trail branching off to your right at a large boulder; this is the Moby Grape/Vertigo approach. Do not take this trail, but instead continue for several more minutes until you see another small trail going right, just past a cul-de-sac on the left side of the bike path that looks like it may have contained a picnic table in the past. A small cairn marks this trail. Follow the trail until it breaks out of the trees, then follow cairns in a gradually rising leftward traverse across the talus. Do not ascend the talus too soon, as this can put you in some very unstable terrain, but instead keep traversing left until directly below the WG ridge, and then ascend the rock slide that issues from Black Dike (still being careful of loose and unstable blocks). The regular start is just right of the bottom the ridge, at a prominent break, while the alternate 5.7 start is on a ledge about 20-30 feet off the ground, right on the front of the buttress.
Route DescriptionPitch 1 (regular). Start about 50 feet from the base of the ridge (really more of a butress) on its right (north side) up an obvious weakness. Climb fourth to low-fifth class terrain (watch for loose holds), then angle slightly left aiming for a large ledge (watch for loose rock). Either build an anchor here (can sling flakes, but watch for loose ones!), or continue up one of two cracks (right one easier, left one has a piton near the bottom) up to a pedestal, step out left across a void onto a face and make a few moderate face moves up to easier terrain and another big ledge. 100 or 180', 5.5.
Pitch 1(Alternate) From a ledge at the bottom of the buttress, climb a crack and right-facing corner (crux is the first 20 feet, 5.7) onto easier terrain (more cracks and flakes) up to the first ledge, joining the regular route below the two short cracks. 100', 5.7.
Pitch 2: Climb up and left toward a v-groove with several pitons in it (awkward 5.5), then traverse left until it's possible to move up to an alcove (easy but somewhat loose terrain - check holds carefully here!). Do not belay at the alcove, which is covered in debris left over from a major rockfall, but instead move up a short crack on its right side (protects easily with a #3 Camalot) to another ledge with a fixed anchor (pins and a stuck cam), just below two parallel cracks. 120', 5.5.
Pitch 2 variation: From the belay at the top of the first pitch, move up some easy blocks and then up a slab along a right-facing corner, past several pitons, up to a steep 20-foot hand crack (5.8, takes #1 Camalots), to a narrow ledge. Either belay at this ledge or continue up the scary-looking dark face above (actually only 5.6) up to a belay just below the Pipe Pitch. 100' or 140', 5.8
Pitch 3 (the Pipe Pitch): Climb up the parallel cracks to a block. Step out right onto a small stance with the Black Dike below you, until you see the pipe in a crack at your feet. Climb the vertical v-groove (5.7, extremely exposed) past two pitons, up to a small ledge with a diagonal crack above it. Belay here (medium cams) or continue (pitches 3 and 4 can be easily combined). 5.7, 70'
Pitch 4: Make another exposed move on the right side of the ridge (5.6) past a piton, top out on easier terrain and continue up either right along the ridge or up a corner to the right of it. Belay either in an alcove left of the ridge, or on a small stance right on the ridge itself, just below a block with a nice crack in it (large nuts and medium cams). 5.6, 70-80'
Pitch 5: Traverse left below a steep wall to a short right-facing corner, up this to a ledge and then up a left-facing corner to a sloping ledge with several pitons. Either belay here (worth considering if rope drag is a concern or it it's windy and difficult to hear your partner), or traverse left to a ledge below a vertical v-groove with several pitons in it. Climb up the groove (awkward but well-protected 5.7) and then finish up an easy corner to the top. 130', 5.7.
Descent: Follow the steep climber's trail left, uphill for a little while, then down all the way until it meets the bike path along the base, then turn left on the bike path and walk back to the parking lot. Don't forget to sign out at the register!
Essential GearNormal rack to #3 Camalot. I carried a #4 and was able to place it in a few places, but it was definitely not essential. Many slings, including double-length ones for slinging flakes and blocks. I recommend a single rope: the route is straight enough that rope drag is usually not a huge issue, and trying to retreat with full 60-meter rappels on twins would likely get your ropes stuck given the jagged nature of the ridge. Even with a 60, many of the pitches can be linked together. Other: suitable shoes for the approach and descent; helmet; extra layer.
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