Sun Ribbon Arete

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.10970°N / 118.4917°W
Additional Information Route Type: Alpine Rock
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: IV 5.9
Sign the Climber's Log

Approach and Descent

Drive east out of Big Pine to the end of Glacier Lodge Road (about 15 miles). The hiker parking is about 0.6 miles from the end of the road and the site of the former Glacier Lodge.

From wherever you park, follow the trail up the north fork of Big Pine Creek. The best place to camp is Third Lake (~10,260’, and about 5.5 miles from the road). If Third Lake is crowded (as it often is) or you just want to be closer to the start, it is possible to camp about ¼ mile south of Third Lake just before heading up the talus and scree towards the base of the climb. Often in early season, snow and running water can be found in the camping areas close to the climb. If it is late season or a low snow year, Third Lake is the closest water.

From Third Lake, cross the outlet stream over fallen logs at the east end of Third Lake, and follow a use trail up onto the moraine. This peters out after about 100 yards, and the rest of the way is on talus and scree. Head more or less directly south, then aim for the couloir between Moon Goddess Arete and Sun Ribbon Arete. Start up the couloir then traverse out onto the Arete to start the route.

To descend from the summit, work down steep ledges until you are able to make a single rappel down a steep 4th-5th class step into Contact Pass. Routefinding is intricate, and best done during daylight. From Contact Pass descend steep scree and/or snow back to the base of the route. The descent from Contact Pass, down either snow or steep scree, is visible to the left of Temple Crag in the attached photo.

Route Description

See attached topo. Other topos are available in Chris Mac's Supertopos and Fiddler/Moynier's Sierra Classics. Also see Gary Clark's website, link is attached to Temple Crag page.

Sun Ribbon Arete is considered one of the best of the many classic alpine routes in the High Sierra, and rightly so. Featured in both Chris Mac's Supertopos and Moynier/Fiddler's High Sierra Classics, this route ascends a tightrope-narrow arete for 18-24 pitches of climbing.

Never harder than 5.9, and with many easy pitches, the route is nonetheless an adventure in routefinding and ropecraft as you weave through gendarmes, straddle ridgetops, and even accomplish one of the few natural tyrolean traverses in the Sierra.

Retreat from this committing route is possible, but not easy, and if you find yourself high on the mountain with the sun going down, take comfort in the thought that many other climbers have been in the same situation, on the same route, before you.

In the attached photo below, Sun Ribbon Arete shows us how it got its name: it is the narrow ribbon of sunlit rock in the middle of the face.

Enjoy, for this is one of the very best routes in the High Sierra.

Essential Gear

See topo, A standard Grade IV clean rack is adequate for this route. Many slings are recommended due to the nature of the route. 10-15 full shoulder length slings are not too many. An ice axe and/or six point crampons may be desirable in the morning to reach the base of the route.

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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