Southeast Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.66040°N / 119.1739°W
Additional Information Route Type: Technical Rock Climb
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: IV, 5.8 (Direct Start Variation, 5.9+)
Sign the Climber's Log


Start by hiking the John Muir Trail at the Devil's Postpile trailhead. Follow the trail for 3/4 of a mile till one crosses the Minaret Creek and enters the Johnston Meadow. The Minarets Lake Trail then begins at this point (signs with milage pointing to Minaret Lake are posted). Follow the Minarets Lake Trail up a few switchbacks and up over Volcanic Pass. The trail continues along Minaret Creek and then rounds the northern side of Minaret Lake. A climbers trail then wanders up through scree and slabby areas (look for ducks marking the way). Continue up slabs to Cecil Lake. A few established bivy sites are on the western side of the lake. Total milage from trailhead to Cecil Lake is 7.5 miles. When making the approach from Cecil Lake and up to the South Face, head left and around slabs. Continue upward toward the Clyde-Ken Couloir. Once in the couloir, the route begins at a ledge next to a rib within the couloirs right side. Alternately, one can begin the Southeast Face via a direct start (blocky 5.9+, 2 pitches...highly recommended!!) just at the mouth of the couloir (look for obvious red rock).

Route Description

The original route begins by traversing a ledge (5.6) which is directly across from the Ken Minaret toe, inside the Ken-Clyde couloir. Traverse this ledge for approx. 120 ft to the right. Belay at the end of the ledge. Start the next pitch by following right facing corners and up cracks that parallel the corners. Continue up and right (aiming for a notch in the sky line) for the next 4 pitches (5.7). This section offers climbing between 5.7 to 5.9 as long as one keeps an eye on the notch (just below a left facing dihedral). Just before the notch, belay at a large ledge and continue right around a corner (5.8) to some blind hold (they're there!!). Start up the left facing dihedral (bomber hands!) to an alcove. From the alcove, climb up and right and past a white rock scar. Climb past the scar and mantle up onto blocks (5.8... a bit spooky!). Above is a large dihedral. Climb the left facing dihedral for 100 ft to a ledge. From here, traverse left and slightly up (50ft) then straight up 100ft (5.6). Use long slings here! Rope drag and loose blocks are encountered. Another pitch up and left for a full pitch (5.7). The rest is 4th class blocks to the summit. There is a variation to the start of this route (as mentioned in the approach notes) that goes up a blocky right facing corner (5.9+). The overall route sucks up gear like a cronic alcoholic does in a Las Vegas cocktail lounge! A true classic! Divinity

Essential Gear

Bring a good deal of slings for the sharp corners and deep cracks. This route will take medium to large gear (pro to 3"). Yes, hexes and nuts are ideal for weight management but cams go even better. Most of the cracks are just meant for cam placements. Be sure to bring a 60 meter rope (as the norm goes) and headlamps for the decent (regardless of time of day). One can decend either the Rock Route, 4th class (on the east ridge) or the Glacier decent via the west side around Ken Minaret and then east into the South Notch to Cecil/Minaret Lakes.

Miscellaneous Info

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

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-6 of 6

bearbnz - Jun 9, 2004 11:36 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Dave, how many pitches of 5th class on this climb by your count? I couldn't decide for sure from the route description, with the traverses and all. Btw, it is Cecile Lake rather than Cecil Lake. You can see it here.

Dave Daly

Dave Daly - Jun 14, 2004 11:21 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

We counted 13 pitches. However, we did the direct variation at the very base of Clyde Minaret. The 5.6 start may shorten it up by a pitch....I think.


stoneman5 - Aug 18, 2004 6:41 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

I suggest going to the left, farther than you think, through the woods, to get to Cecile. It is a walk, the notch on the right side at the end of the climber trail requires 4th-easy 5th class scrambling. It took us less than a 30 minute stroll in the morning from Minaret Lake to the base of the route. The camping at Minaret is much better than Cecile.


alecFerguson - Oct 22, 2007 3:43 pm - Hasn't voted


Overall, a well done page, with all the beta I would have written. If someone knows a good descent route that would be a welcome addition. We tried to find the route described in Peter Croft's guide. We went north-northwest on a ridge from the summit, but cut down at the earliest possible place. We found a good rappel route set up for one 60 meter rope. We continued down the prominent couloir to the south of Clyde Minaret, with one rappel into a slot. This descent route worked very well in September with no snow. This route is very long, because every pitch is full ropelength. Get an early start. The rock isn't granite, and takes some getting used to. Oh yeah: this is one of the best routes I've ever done.

Dave Daly

Dave Daly - Oct 26, 2007 1:41 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Beta

When we did it, we took the Rock Route (4th class), which is northeast of the summit.

stella - Jul 29, 2008 10:11 pm - Hasn't voted

good descent option

before doing this route, we read three different options for descents, one from peter croft and two from sp parker. they all seemed overly confusing, and in one of parkers descriptions, potentially wrong. here is our descent, which was generally easy, straightforward, and involved nothing harder than class 3. from the summit, head north on the ridge until you are blocked by a 20 ft. high wall. head left and slightly down on easy ledges for ~50 feet until you see a slung chockstone with carabiners. single rope rappel into the 3rd class gully. from these first anchors, look across the gully to the ridge on its opposite side; you will see another slung chockstone with white/yellow webbing. after your first rappel, head generally across the gully to these anchors. single rope rappel into the next gully over. from here, you can 3rd class it down and left to the obvious notch at the top of the ken/clyde couloir. 3rd class down this to a single rope rappel on your right. 3rd class again until you hit a huge chockstone; parker calls this a double rope rappel, in fact it was a short single rope rappel. maybe a double rope rappel in early season with a lot of snow in the gully, but there are anchors down lower as well, if needed. from here, scree/talus down to cecile lake. i'm sure this description can be condensed quite a bit. also, for the approach from minaret lake, you can follow cairns up the right side of the slope from minaret lake, through easy talus/trail to get to cecile lake. takes about 20 minutes.

Viewing: 1-6 of 6



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