This is a pretty basic route up to the top of Temple Crag. If you have even minimal rock climbing skills, you probably will want to do Venusian Blind Arete or some other route. If you don't want to mess with protection and ropes and feel confident on class 4, this route is great. There are 2 sections of class 4 and about a hundred feet of class 3. The rest is class 2 or less.
update 7/31/05: I just looked in Secor's book which I do not own and he gives the "contact crack" ( pictured here
) a 5.2 rating. Knowing that the difference between class 4 and easy class 5 is often debatable, I am leaving the refernces to class 4 in the route description but changed the difficulty at top of this page from class 4 to 5.2. I still think if you feel confident on class 4, this route should be no problem at all.
The approach to Temple Crag is quite relaxing compared to hikes to the base of other peaks. From Big Pine, head west on Glacier Lodge Road for just shy of 10 miles to the trailhead parking. Follow the trail which follows along the north side of the North Fork of Big Pine Creek until your reach Second Lake. There are great places to camp on the south side of the trail and even a few in-between the lakes. I did the full approach and climbed the snow all the way to the top of Contact Pass in sandals so hopefully that will give you a taste of what the approach is like.
From Second Lake, cross over to the the south sides of the lakes near the base of Temple Crag's butress. Follow along the south side of Temple Crag up towards contact pass. There likely will be (depending upon snow level and season climbed) a snow chute that must be ascended to gain the pass. Once atop the pass (and I mean, right at the crest), look left and locate the obvious chimney up the rock. Climb the chimeny to a point about 35-40 feet above the top of the pass to where you see rappel slings often used to descend the chimney. Note, it may be difficult to climb this chimney wearing a large pack.
Once even with the rappel slings, climb the class 3 rocks to the top of the ridge. Once the ridge is gained, it is class 2 all the way to the summit block. You will want to follow the ridge and then tend left (west) towards the summit. The second and last section of class 4 is here to reach the summit. At the base of the summit block, one must descend about 12 feet and then climb the obvious crack to the summit. This is about 15 feet of very exposed class 4. Once at the summit, sign, enjoy the view, and descend the same way up. One can rappel the class 4 section at the top of Contact pass if he or she desires but this is not necessary if you are minimally comfortable on class 4.
Bring a ~100 ft rope if you wish to rappel back down the class four chimney at Contact Pass. Otherwise nothing is really neccessary.
"The tires are the things on your car that make contact with the road."
-seek out the Contact from 7/21/91 if you can
If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.