South Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 36.83690°N / 118.4458°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scramble/Technical Climb
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.4
Sign the Climber's Log


From either Gardiner Basin (easy) or Sixty Lakes Basin, climb to the saddle just south of Clarence King. From Sixty Lakes Basin, use either a ledge system east of the saddle, or climb a scree/talus slope farther south along the ridge.

Route Description

Climb the obvious south slope. Much of this slope is loose scree and sand, and makes for very tedious (albeit not difficult) climbing. There is a shallow rib near the middle of the face that provides more solid ground that you may find easier on the ascent. Continue climbing until you are no longer comfortable on the steepening slope (with more solid rock now).

Easier ground can be found by angling right to the Southeast Ridge and following Secor's description of a "jam crack and squeeze chimney (located just right of a guillotine flake)" that provides access to the summit blocks. Alternatively you can continue up the South Face over class 4 rock directly to the summit blocks without ever moving over to the SE Ridge.

The summit blocks provide most of the excitement. On the east side of the blocks, you will find an obvious crack system. Climb atop a 6-foot flake, and climb the crux, a 5.4 crack move up onto the south block. You can just reach the squeeze point where Bolton Brown cinched his knotted rope from atop the flake. There was an old nut wedged in this point when I was there which was useful for clipping the rope to before making the crux move. Once on the south block, you can stand atop it and rest your hands on the taller north block (the summit). Study this move well. There are almost no hand or foot holds on the summit block and this last move can be a bit scary. With both hands on the summit block, lift your left leg up and place it at the left (west) end of the summit block's south edge. Push off with your right foot and roll onto the summit block. You might think you're going to peel at this point and hurt yourself badly, but it only takes a little momentum to get your center of gravity safely on the summit. The summit block angles down to the west and a second concern is that you will roll off the west side down some thousand feet of cliff or so. This is a mental thing as the friction is superb on the top, and your chances of sliding on this are remote. I think. :)

If you aren't using a rope your work is done, and you can tell your partner (if you have one) to simply follow your moves. If you have a rope, you now need to pretend to set up a good belay stance on the summit block to bring your partner up. If you have a really long sling, you might be able to fashion something that might do some good, but for the most part there is only a small ledge on top that you can brace your feet against to help you on belay. Since a fall of more than a few feet is unlikely on the summit, this is probably sufficient.

Please don't drill any holes to place bolts on the summit block. This is one of the few great Sierra summit blocks that is unscathed. The early climbers of this peak had no need for bolts, so the rest of us should do without as well.

Essential Gear

We carried a 7.5mm,37m rope and an set of odd-numbered nuts for this climb. You could get away with a much shorter rope if desired.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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