Climbed Stemwinder with Mark. Left the Portal at 8AM. We made some mistakes on the approach and wasted almost an hour. Back at 3PM (7 hrs roundtrip).
Route Climbed: NW Face
Date Climbed: November 15, 2003
A day hike of Thor Peak via the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek.
1) Whitney Portal Road: USFS road closure sign is at the usual 6600-foot elevation point. Snow level on November 15th was around just under 7000 ft. I was only able to drive to the "Meysan Lakes trailhead parking" brown sign (elev ~ 8000 ft). I have a Honda Accord, front 2WD.
2) Saturday, Nov 15th: I woke up at 3:00am and was walking by 3:35am. I got to the Whitney Portal trailhead (elev ~ 8365 ft) by 4:00am. At the Portal, the snow was 1 foot deep. The trail was decently packed with a boot track. I then left the main Whitney trail and hiked up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek towards Lower Boy Scout Lake (at least what's left of it----LBSL looks more like a pond than a lake now). I took the Ebersbacher Ledges as there wasn't a great deal of snow on them. There was a snow boot track all the way to LBSL. From LBSL, you could still follow a boot track 'til about 10,750 ft. From there on, the boot track was erased by the winds coming down from Upper Boy Scout Lake (UBSL) and Clyde's Meadow. I had to put on crampons in the Clyde's Meadow section just below UBSL. Then, I had to take my crampons off and put on snowshoes at UBSL. Definitely, I had to break trail here. Also, the snow was 2 feet deep starting at UBSL (elev ~ 11,300 ft). I then went up about 200 ft or so and turned left (east) towards the NW slope of Thor Peak. When I got to the base, I took my snowshoes off and started climbing. I'm used to climbing class 3 rock on summer (e.g. Middle Pal's NE face, Whitney's MR, etc), however, climbing class 3 with snow on it turned out to be quite interesting. It took me 50 minutes to reach the summit from the base (800 ft of gain). I climbed mostly towards climber's right of the NW face of Thor. I reached the summit at 11:17am. I stayed there 15 minutes. It was windy and quite chilly. The Owens valley was covered with clouds (I couldn't see Lone Pine). I could only see the very tips (summits) of Mt Inyo , Keynot Peak and New York Butte towards the east across Owens valley. The top of the cloud deck was probably setting around 10,000 ft. I was still able to see LBSL from the summit of Thor Peak though. I descended Thor's summit via the east slope (Thor's summit plateau). You can see 2 prominent rock bands with trees in the middle of the 2 as you descend east. Then, not knowing, I took a snow chute down to the right of the right-most prominent rock band. I actually ended up by Lone Pine Lake. I then took the main Whitney trail down towards the Portal. The main trail (at least from Lone Pine Lake down) was decently packed too with boot tracks. I got to my car at 3:05pm. This hike took me longer than I expected. I expected 9-10 hours roundtrip; however, it ended up being almost 12 hours car-to-car. Breaking trail from UBSL to the NW base of Thor Peak took me quite some time as well as the class 3 section on Thor's NW face. All in all, though, an enjoyable trip.
Climbed North side from lake near UBSL. Tried different chutes on the way up and down. Both probably class 3.
Good views from the summit. Took a different route than other members for the Burd party; we all seem to have gone up different chutes.
Nice quick climb.
Fun route with Tricky Rick (Kent). The chimney was a little awkward and funky, but otherwise, the route was rather fun. Super fast descent down a sandy chute on the east face.
That 5.4 chimney near the start looked a bit underrated. Maybe we shoulda brought a rope. But we found another way up around to the left of the hardman granite. Trip Report
Climbed from unnamed lake above USBL. Class 3+ ascent (looks worse than it is) lots of fun. Descended the standard NE scree route to above LBSL.
Climbed Thor from bench above Upper Boyscout Lake direct up towards pinnacle ridge. Scrambled boulders and climbed direct class 3/4 to summit area. Thor was climbed due to partner having face swelled shut by snowburn had to abort Whitney climb. Views of Whitney group alone was worth the trip.
Bob Burd, Rick Kent, and I had started out to climb a class "3" route on the south face, but when even attempts at Snowshoe aiding on the 5.5 chimney failed, we wandered around and headed up the most interesting looking chute on the SW face of the peak. Our chute consisted of a chockstone and a narrow ice-lined tunnel that required us to climb through one at a time, handing packs off so that we could fit through. It definitely brought back memories of climbing in the Southwest :-)
Stunning, spectacular view. Competes with Senger for my favorite view in the Sierra (so far!). Ascended with Michael Graupe, and others from the Burd contingent (who ascended other routes).
We were camped at Upper Boy Scout Lake while trying to climb Whitney. On a rest day, we went part way back down to LBSL, traversed under the large rock face, and headed up what seemed like avalanche slopes. We took the safest part of the route and gained the ridge. From there it is a long slog the the top. Descended the same way, but had to hike back up to UBSL.
Tried to climb the west face (rock wall), going left, facing the wall, but didn't make it to the summit. It got dark and snowed. Plus I twisted my knee, repelling. It's a beautiful route though, combining hiking and climbing
Scree slog up the chute but the views from the summit were worth the pain.
Nice climb from Mirror Lake. Day hiked from the portal. Great views of the larger surrounding peaks like Whitney and Russell.
My first visit (July 23, 2004) was a warm-up hike for Pinchot/Wynne the next day, climbing the peak from Pinnacle Pass and descending the South Slopes. Good view of Whitney from the summit. Not sure where Secor's class 2 route up the West Ridge is.
I came back on Apr 27, 2007 to climb Stemwinder with Bob. This was an amazingly cool route, with one really short technical pitch (more like 5.6 than the 5.4 rating Secor gives it), and a short, exposed class 4 traverse. Everything else on the route was continuous, exposed class 3, one of the most sustained and impressive third class routes I've ever climbed in the Sierra. Fantastic climb. Descended the easy slopes towards LBSL and returned via the North Fork drainage. Warm-up hike for Mt. Barnard the next day.
This is a worthwhile climb for the views. The panorama looking from south to west to north are the best in the Whitney region.
Route atarts at LBL and follow the "smile-like" indentation in the North-East face.
Good intro to climbing in the backcountry.
Why this peak doesn't get more accolades for the incredible climbing found here is a mystery to me. With its beautiful steep south face and close proxcimity to the Portal you'd think it would be more popular. I climbed this route with my good friend Pat Brennen in a long day car to car from the portal parking lot. If you start early enough you can usually beat the rangers checking permitsjust below outpost camp. The route was a first accent for us and a real eye opener for me in that there is so much incredible unclimbed rock in the sierras. Our route climbed just left of the cenral southwest face in a series of right facing cornors, right of the "Pink Perch" route. Picth 5 climbed an awesome 5.10 hand crack that would compare to any of the best pitches I've done in the sierra. We topped out on the wall at dusk and didn't make the summit..
Bob Austin and I climbed this excellant route in late September of 2000. Bob had been climbing alot of sierra routes that year such as the "Sun Ribbon Arete" and a route on Picture Peak Which were both rated 5.9 but after climbing Thor he got a better view of what 5.9 in the sierras can be like. We were lucky to get off the route by night fall. my first and last time climbing with Bob. Hey where are you Bob, lets go climbing. Thor is a great sierra peak, easy approach and awesome climbing, the real deal. I suppose if I hadn't gone off route we might have made the summit, stay in the big cracks.