South Face

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Time Required:
Half a day
Rock Difficulty:
Class 4

Route Quality: 0 Votes

2730 Hits
74.01% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
South Face
Created On: Aug 23, 2007
Last Edited On: Aug 25, 2007


The south face of Norman Clyde is easiest approached from the west end of the lower Palisade Lake. To get to Palisade Lakes, a number of possibilities exist. The easiest and fastest approach is over the Bishop Pass trail from South Lake although this amounts to about 24 miles, 5000 feet of elevation gain, and 4300 feet of elevation loss. Roads End and Taboose Pass (via Mather Pass) can also be used but require longer approaches and either equal or greater elevation gain. Possible crosscountry routes include Scimitar / Chimney Passes or Southfork Pass (ice possible).

From the west end of the lower lake, ascend the drainage immediately north or the granite slabs to the right of the drainage. At the top of the drainage, head northeast into the small, meadow basin and climb on to the granite face (the same is achieved via the granite slabs). Ascend to the foot of the talus that fans from the right side of the buttress described in Secor's description.

Norman Clyde s south faceThe south face as viewed from the talus slope at the foot of the buttress.


The route begins just right of the buttress that curves down to the climbers right from the notch between Pk 13,659’ (Mt Williams in Secor’s guide) and Norman Clyde Peak. Climb the talus up and follow the inside curve of this buttress until a class 3 chute becomes apparent to the right (NE). Follow this chute up until a method to cross into the next chute to the east is available. Secor describes this route as “about two-thirds of the way up and then go right over easy terrain to a notch behind a low, squat tower” but it wasn’t that apparent.

From the next chute over, continue up high class 3 (and sometimes it seems like class 4) until you’re at the base of the lower summit block. Either climb the lower summit block and traverse to the higher summit or bypass it into the bowl between the two summits and climb to the higher summit.

There are actually 4 chutes all together including the original class 3 chute on the far left and the wide chute below the bowl. Reversing Secor’s direction will end in being cliffed out (his picture in the second edition shows the route reaching the lower, NW summit).
Norman Clyde s west faceThe class 3 chute that leads most of the way up

Essential Gear

Early in the season, ice ax and crampons may be needed for the route and the approach.

Looking down the class 3Looking back down from the start of the class 3 chute. The Lower Palisade Lake is visible at the very top of the picture

External Links

Norman Clyde ascent as part of my JMT trip

Secor's Vision Quest

Steve Eckert's description of the south face and route picture