Follow the directions on the main page to the Middle Palisade Glacier. Negotiate the small bergschrund
at the head of the glacier--a much less serious proposition than the 'schrund on the main Palisade Glacier--and climb an extraordinarily loose class 2 chute
to the Sierra Crest. (This chute may be best climbed as a snow climb in early season to avoid all the loose crud you'll encounter otherwise).
Follow the class 2 ridge
west over much talus to a point about 300 feet below the summit of Balcony Peak, at around 13,500ft in elevation. (The summit of Balcony Peak is a short, easy sidetrip from here, and worth taking a few minutes to visit).
There are many ways to go on the broken face of Balcony Peak, and a precise route description is difficult to give. From the point on the ridge described above (and shown in this picture
), traverse down and across the north face of Balcony Peak. The crux is a short, exposed traverse
around a steep rib
. After negotiating this, make a horizontal traverse
across several chutes and small ribs to the prominent couloir (Doug's Chute) that separates Balcony Peak from Disappointment Peak. The scrambling is both exposed and sustained, but easy.
From the couloir, angle right and up easy slabs. A class 3 scramble
up the ridge leads up to the summit.
Ice axe/crampons are required to climb the glacier and negotiate the bergschrund. Helmets are highly recommended if climbing with others; knocking down rocks on the climb up to the Sierra Crest is almost unavoidable.
Some may want a rope for the exposed traverse between Balcony and Disappointment. However, extreme caution should be exercised, as considerable loose rock is encountered here. In my opinion, the climbing is easy, and rather than risking additional rockfall by roping up, it is safer to just climb this unroped.