Traverse from Disappointment

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.07000°N / 118.4692°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scrambling
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 4
Additional Information Grade: II
Sign the Climber's Log


A climbing party in 1919 was attempting to be the first to reach the summit of Middle Pal, but ascending the wrong chute they landed atop the nearby lower peak they christened "Disappointment." Frustrated by the difficulties they found separating them from their objective, they retreated. 20 years later, David Brower lead a party across the traverse from Disappointment to Middle Palisade.

There are four main points along the crest that can be identified from below on the NE side. From left to right, these are "Balcony Peak", Disappointment Peak, "Excitement Peak", and Middle Palisade. This is a sharply serrated part of the Sierra crest, typical for the stretch between South Fork Pass and Bishop Pass comprising the Palisade Traverse.

The easiest approach is from South Fork Pass, following class 2 talus to Balcony Peak, then a class 4 traverse to Disappointment Peak.

Route Description

In several pictures of Secor's second edition to his Sierra guidebook, he draws a relatively smooth route across the NE Face below Disappointment Peak, Excitement Peak, and Middle Pal. You will find nothing of the kind in practice on the traverse. The face can best be described as a series of vertical chutes separated by steep aretes. There are about half a dozen aretes to cross going from one peak to the other. You may be required to climb up or down from one arete to the next in order to find a notch that allows access into the next chute. Rarely will you be traversing in a horizontal fashion. There are various ways to enter and exit the face at each end, and multiple ways across it. Take your time to look for the easier passages. Most of this route is class 3 with a few class 4 sections.

From the summit of Disappointment, you can either drop down to the east to a notch between Balcony and Disappointment to begin the traverse, or alternatively (quicker and shorter) drop off the west side of Disappointment's summit down an opening just south of the main crest to a notch. The notch can also be reached via a class 4 crack on the face exactly on the crest down to the notch. From the notch, descend a chute for approximately 100-150ft to begin the traverse over to Middle Palisade. Once on the face below the crest it is difficult to make out the various summits above. Excitement Peak is most obvious, and your main goal is to traverse around it on the NE side. You will be anywhere from 100ft to 300ft below the summit of Excitement, depending on the route you choose. You can climb to the notch between Excitement and Middle Pal and ascend the south side of the crest to the summit (class 4), or traverse below the notch and approach Middle Pal's summit from below (also class 4). The class 4 sections on the entire traverse are few and short. Mostly it is loose, exposed class 3 scrambling.

Essential Gear

None needed unless uncomfortable on class 4. The rock is fairly loose on the NE Face of the crest and a rope is likely to increase the amount of rockfall a party experiences. I would only suggest using one if absolutely necessary due to the exposure. Rock shoes are also of dubious value due to the loose rock and long stretches between class 4 sections.

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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