There will be alpine water along the trail for the entire ascent and descent to the bivy. If you are looking to poach the permit, you can ascend a scramble route from Mirror Lake (that will have you exit the Whitney Trail at half the distance) that will lead you to a beautiful bivy spot at a tarn right at the base of the route.
Route DescriptionAiguille Extra, East Face, 1400’+/-, 5.10
1st Pitch- 220’- 5.10-/
Start atop the 3rd class ledge at the base of the left facing corner. Climb easy crack up to the roof. Protect and extend under the roof with a bomber C4#3 and traverse right via an exposed face move to a jug.
Continue up the flake/corner system which leads into twin cracks. The FAer’s called this 5.9 off-width but I do not recall any real off-width technique needed. Follow this feature to a small ledge out left.
2nd/3rd Pitches- 220’- 5.8/
By extending the 1st pitch as above, you can combine the first three pitches in two pitches with a 70m rope. Exit the main corner and follow the myriad of hand sized cracks out right. Pull the obvious roof on the right wall by going out and left via great rock and positive blind holds. Make a face traverse back left into the corner. This crux move or two on this leftward traverse I thought was way more heads up then the crux traverse on the first pitch.
Follow the corner up and traverse left on a ramp to a small ledge with one bomber C4#2.
4th/5th Pitches- 230’- 5.8/
Move up and left at the beginning, then back right into the left facing corner. Climb it to the top and continue on 4th class up and left to the very base of the main dihedral that forms the majority of this climb (small gear belay).
6th Pitch- 115’- 5.7/
Head up the corner on the easiest pitch of the day to a stance at the base of the chimney (medium gear belay).
7th Pitch- 120’- 5.10/
This is the crux pitch of day and the only one that felt difficult for the grade. I personally would have chose to do the off-width up to the chimney section, but that would have required hauling a few larger pieces. Head up the flaring, chossy and loose cracks on the right wall. This was an intimidating lead due to the nature of the rock.
I started in the furthermost right crack and meandered back left until several meters below the roof. Traverse left on suspect gear across a blank face via a tough move to get your first stem off the chimney arete.
Stem up for several meters then assume chimney position facing out to place a solid medium piece, then make the “wild”roof pull. I ended up doing a 180 to find the right sequence. Pull over the roof and continue up for a distance to a stance in the wide crack above.
8th Pitch- 120’- 5.8/
Although you could combine these next two pitches, it is safer due to loose rock to wait and combine pitches 9 and 10 instead. Continue up the corner on a very fun pitch of wide cracks with plenty of features and pro. Stop at a stance out on the left wall well short of the loose chock stones above.
9th Pitch- 220’- 5.8/
Finish the dihedral in a wide crack past two large chock stones. The first one is a bit dangerous to mantel but you can climb around it.
The exit chock stone if pretty solid in comparison and requires a mantel to exit the main dihedral. Continue up the loose ground to the left to the base of a short face with two cracks (.75 gear).
10th/11th Pitches- 180’- 5.10-/
Believe it or not, the last pitch is the best pitch of the day! How often can you say that about a route that tops out at 14,000’? Take the easy corner/crack up to a ledge. Continue up another short wall to the base of a corner that leads to a roof on the right of two adjoining walls. Climb to the roof, protect with a C4#.5 and make an exposed lay back via a blind hold to pull up and right.
Continue up stellar rock (this last pitch had the best rock of the day, a rarity for a route this high) up the corner via twin cracks to the summit.
Climbing Sequence II
Hike all of five minutes down the west side to gain the Whitney trail. Turn left and descend back to camp. You will get water again on the east side (after crossing back over the pass) from drainage across the trail.
A single 70m rope helps convert the topo’s description of eleven pitches down to eight. I led 10 of the 11 pitches on the topo and placed no wires, but we cleaned three left on the route. There is zero fixed protection or anchors en route. I took a single rack of cams from .2 to C4#4 and a double set from .3 to #3 and three finger sized off-set cams. Stretching out leads and building anchors, this turned out to be the perfect rack. The route faces east. We climbed quite fast. In mid-July, we started about an hour after sun up and still had sun on most of the route by the time we finished. Could have climbed in short sleeves all day. I am sure this is not always the case. Go prepared.