Climbed this route with dkangas and three other climbers from SMG. Long approach (9.5 mi) from Mono Meadows TH then another (1.5 mi) on summit day. Good solid route with lots of interesting and exposed climbing. The highlight of the day was of course the step-across below the summit. Damn little for hand holds and a step that must be made with authority. James Gardiner best described this part of the route after he and Clarence King summited the peak in 1866. "It was, I think, duty's call that nerved us. That leap, like most dangers, seemed more perilous after it was made than before; it was not the length of the spring -- that was easy -- but to light in exact balance on a projecting rock that scarcely held half of one foot, while the remainder of the body hung over a precipice 1500 ft. deep, was a thing requiring most exact judgment."
Compared to its sibling the NW Arete, the SE Arete seems to get almost no attention lavished upon it. Although fairly short, the climbing on this route--if one stays on top of the arete itself--is superb. It rivals Matthes Crest, Carl Heller, or indeed the NW Arete, featuring huge exposure, knife edges, airy moves, and excellent granite. Plus, there is the "awkward step across," a move charged with a sense of history. The small rock lodged on the opposing side of the step, which Gardiner noted in 1866, seems to be still there! An easy way back is to rap from the notch in the arete right after the step across, traverse the east face benches heading south, then scramble up an obvious class 3 gully. That takes you right back to the sandy slope on the southeast side. Led a group of climbers from SMG on this one--great day! This climb definitely earns its 4th class rating.