Whitney Mountaineer's Route vs. Sill North Couloir

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Whitney Mountaineer's Route vs. Sill North Couloir

by deungsan » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:41 am

The title says it all...

How does the Whitney Mountaineer's Route compare with Sill's North Couloir?

I know the time of the year matters, so let's say WMR in April (actually, as it was about 10 days ago) vs. Sill in mid-June.

Both are rated Class 3 in the Porcella/Burns book.

Thanks for the input.

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kevin trieu

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by kevin trieu » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:47 am

North Couloir has a section of class 4. MR in April is more of a snow climb compared with North Coulior in June.

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by WML » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:02 am

Sill's North Couloir is by far the greater adventure, and the hike back there is quite lengthy and sustained compared to the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek to get to the MR on Whitney. ~10 miles, 6,500 ft. gain to get to the glacier on Sill.

Either one would be a blast, but what are you looking for more or less in the climb and whatnot?

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by deungsan » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:11 am

To clarify...

Is there anything on the Sill North Couloir route that's more difficult than the "final 400 feet" on the Mountaineer's Route?

I agree that everything before that on Whitney is just about endurance.

More clarification...

I've been to Sam Mack Meadow twice, so I already know what it takes to hike in that far.

The chute on Sill looks fun with enough snow. Considering this year's snow pack, does the first half of June seem promising for that?

Does anyone have specifics on that Class 4 section on Sill?


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by SKI » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:20 pm


The "final 400" on the MR route is pretty scenic and, depending on where you choose to gain the upper plateau once out of the chute, can be a pretty spicy venture.

Sill presents a challenge in snowy conditions. The coulior turns into an ever-steepening slog and the class 4 section becomes 5th class really easy if you are the least bit off route. The high snow level eliminates important route indicators and the traverse can be outright treacherous if you aren't in the right spot (angled, snow-covered platforms begging to spit you off into the Palisade basin).

Sill, as aforementioned is wild and adventurous. But unless you go up there with great beta, competent and knowing that you will be on route... I'd wait for the snow's to clear.

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by The Chief » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:38 pm

You will definitely encounter far less people on and around Sill, and you will have more of an Alpine environment experience IMO.

Depending on your abilities, the two have just about the same Class of Difficulty of climbing at their CRUX locations.

It also depends on what time of the season you plan on going and the Permit Situ is much more accessible/easier to attain for Sill, than it is for the MR.

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by gordonye » Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:01 pm

In late season when all the snow clears, the top 400 feet on Mountaineer's route is quite mellow compared to the longer, more involved class 4 section on Sill.

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by asmrz » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:23 pm

Agree with Chief. The Sill trip would be a much better backcountry experience, few (if any) people, wilderness feeling. With snow, not much of a problem. Later in the year, when rock is exposed, some solid 3th class sections high up, slabs and dirty, crumbling steps below the top. Not too bad if you are comfortable in that kind of terrain. IMO Sill is much better climb and experience than MR. Later in the year, starting about mid July, hard snow develops in the couloir. Crampons and ice axe are absolutely essential
Edit, spelling and note about crampons

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by Diggler » Wed Apr 28, 2010 6:30 pm

A bit of solid 4th class on Sill, definitely trickier than the MR. Route-finding is also more of a challenge, from the summit down the right chute(s), finding the 'catwalk,' down the snowfield, & down from Glacier Notch to the glacier. You also have to do a short skirting of the Palisade Glacier (not bad with snow, icy once the snow is gone). That being said, if you're confident on 4th class (factor in potential verglas too), I'd go for Sill if I had to choose- great peak, & one of the best views of the Palisades.

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by rlshattuck » Wed Apr 28, 2010 8:11 pm

What, the MR just wasn't good enough for ya? . . . B2 . . . still haven't got vid together, but the experience is fresh as ever . . . are you looking for a Sill crew? did you get Gary's vid?


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by deungsan » Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:05 am

Great info...thanks, everyone.

To rlshattuck:

The Mountaineer's Route was great. Had a wonderful time, even on the Final 400. I saw his video on YouTube--pretty snazzy.

I have a business trip to the Southern Sierra and am considering adding a Sill attempt (or some other peak in the area).


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