Rowell's Sierra FAs


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Jerry Dodrill

Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 29, 2012 - 01:52am PT
Its widely reported that Galen climbed over a hundred FA's in the Sierra. Does anyone know how to find out what they are? Is there a searchable database?


Feb 29, 2012 - 02:28am PT

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Feb 29, 2012 - 02:31am PT
Secor guide + AAC site + asking around
Stephen McCabe

Trad climber
near Santa Cruz, CA
Feb 29, 2012 - 05:00am PT
Cyclorama Wall. Volume 39,p 544 AAJ. Good story.

There's no quick way in, but don't approach it from South Lake, Bishop Pass, Knapsack Pass, Potluck Pass, Mather Pass and Cartridge Pass, that's the long way in. We were just backpacking, not climbing. I took a side trip to see it. Going further down Cartridge Creek was as bad as the trail guide book said, especially in super high water, when crossing the creek wasn't an option.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 29, 2012 - 09:36am PT
I must do the Cyclorama Wall before I die, just for Rowell's description alone.
The Alpine

Big Wall climber
Feb 29, 2012 - 11:17am PT
"P 12,860, Cyclorama Wall. This obscure summit, located in the middle of a netherworld between the Palisades and Leconte Canyon, is a mile- wide, lOOO-foot, vertical wall every bit as impressive as the Diamond on Longs Peak. To reach it, one must cross either three of four passes over 12,000 feet and travel cross-country for most of twenty miles. Even this inaccessibility would not have deterred determined climbers, were the face visible from traveled areas. From every side except the north, P 12,860 is a non-descript Sierra rubble pile, rising at about 30 to a cone-shaped summit. From the north, however, this cone is quarried out so extensively that the wall drops vertically from the summit forming a tight arc of cliff that virtually hides itself from all but a straight-on view. Standing beneath it, Vern Clevenger, Claude Fiddler and I felt as if we were viewing a cyclorama in a museum. We approached the climb via Southfork, Mather, and two unnamed passes, reaching a camp about two miles from the face in a very long day. A crack system that ap- peared straightforward from below turned out to be discontinuous, over-
hanging, and bottoming. Four FlO pitches in a row, together with a few moves of direct aid and two tension traverses, gained us a steep dihedral with a good crack that aimed for the top. Two pitches below the top, the hauling pack jammed and came free after a hard tug. This opened the top flap and I noticed two objects falling free all the way to the talus. One was a water bottle, the other a single running shoe. I screamed in horror, because the loss of that running shoe was more devastating than a long fall; while the shoe was still in the air, I was contemplating the pain of crossing all the passes the next day wearing one E.B. After twelve solid hours of climbing we finally summited just as the sun touched the horizon. Our descent down the northeast side brought us into the only cliffy terrain in sight, just as the light was failing on a moonless night. Stumbling about in our E.B.s, we decided to bivouac rather than risk crossing a co1 that separated us from our camp. Without jackets at
12,000 feet in September, we got to know each other quite well before dawn allowed us to continue to camp, and later in the day to the road- head in Big Pine Creek. NCCS V, FlO, Al.
The Alpine

Big Wall climber
Feb 29, 2012 - 11:25am PT
There's also a writeup in there about the FA of Mt Chamberlin:

"Mount Chamberlin, West Pillar. The 1400-foot vertical granite face of this peak is not fully visible from any road or major trail, and thus it escaped the recent heavy pressure of Sierra rock climbing until July when Mike Farrell and I made the round-trip in two days. The first day was, for me, almost more difficult than the Grade V route itself. With only a weekend to spare, I started from Berkeley, drove 360 miles to Whitney Portal, began hiking with Mike at four P.M. at 8600 feet, crossed 13,700-foot Trail Crest on the shoulder of Whitney at eight P.M. and angled to the base of the wall down a long canyon to Crabtree Lakes,
camping at dusk. The next morning, neither of us had the patience to
haul our big bag of food, water and clothing up the first chimney, SOwe just lowered it and left it there. With no sack to haul, we were com- mitted to do the route in a day, and the climbing went very quickly. We ascended a prominent vertical pillar on the west side of the face by means of a single, straight-in crack system that lasted until the summit pitch took us out onto the prow. The 13 pitches took eight hours, and might have taken until dark if we had brought the sack. The climbing was consistently varied and spectacular on typically solid High Sierra granite. NCCS V, FlO.

Link for the issue:


Trad climber
Feb 29, 2012 - 12:53pm PT
I believe its close to 100, looking at my notes...

The guy got around...

I always wanted to compile a list of Galen's FA list in the sierra. As said earlyer, AAC + Secor + word of mouf would be the way to go

I got my eye on plenty of Galen's lesser known 'gems'

beneath the valley of ultravegans
Feb 29, 2012 - 02:48pm PT
Damn, 1978 what a year! Was there a drought? Seems particularly active, especially the Al(l)ans. Great to see you in there too Steve (McCabe)!
The Alpine

Big Wall climber
Feb 29, 2012 - 04:05pm PT
Cyclorama Wall pics please!

ps... whats going on with the photo upload feature? Not working for me.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 29, 2012 - 04:11pm PT
Not Cyclorama but a pretty sweet little Rowell plum on Four Gables...

Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 29, 2012 - 05:43pm PT
I did 3 or 4 with him, but can't recall what formations, they were along The John Muir Trail, south of Red's Meadow.
Were they any good?

BTW, I've never seen a photo of Cyclorama. I think I know where it is on the topo, but you pretty much have to be in that specific cirque to even get a look at it. It just seems to add to its mystery.
em kn0t

Trad climber
isle of wyde
Feb 29, 2012 - 05:52pm PT
Hi Jerry,
Using Acrobat Pro it's possible to catalog a collection of PDF files to allow searching the whole collection. I created a PDF catalog for the archive DVD of past issues of AAJ when it was published some years back; I'll try to locate those files.

Still wanna do the Smokestack!

Not Cyclorama but a pretty sweet little Rowell plum on Four Gables...

nice! do you know the name of the route? topo?

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
Feb 29, 2012 - 05:54pm PT
The left hand ridge on Split Mountain, winter. Galen Rowell was a bad mofo.
can't say

Social climber
Pasadena CA
Feb 29, 2012 - 05:55pm PT
He did a couple of nice routes on the Ruby Wall (#s 2 and 3). We did the East Arete (#2) and it was a very enjoyable time. Like most of the rock on the wall, it's a bit friable.

Boulder, CO
Feb 29, 2012 - 06:57pm PT
I think that Cyclorama Wall is above Bumbbell Lakes, which are south of Observation Peak (which is marked on google maps). So if you search online for landmarks in the vacinity, there are often photos from backpackers that might catch a piece of the Cyclorama Wall. For example, here is a link to a photo that shows what I think is the wall in the upper left.

I swear I've found more than this in the past, but at the moment, this is the only one I see. Maybe check photos of Observation Peak or Dumbbell Lakes on summitpost.

As far as Rowell FAs, a couple years ago, I put all the routes grade IV or more from the Secor guide, into a spreadsheet. So here are the Rowell FAs from Secor that are grade IV or more (there are quite a few):

Peak 12882 12860 Cyclorama Wall V 5.1 A1 1979 Claude Fiddler Vern Clevenger Galen Rowell
Mount Chamberlin 13169 North Pillar V 5.1 1979 Galen Rowell Mike Farrell
Stone House Buttress 8720 Chimney Route IV 5.8 1970 Joe Faint Galen Rowell
Lone Pine Peak 12944 Winter Route IV 5.7 1970 Chris Jones Galen Rowell
Mount Whitney 14494 Left Wing Extremist V 5.11a 1991 Galen Rowell David Wilson
Mount Tyndall 14018 Direct East Face IV 5.10 A2 1983 Steve Brewer David Wilson Galen Rowell
Mount Hale 13440 Northeast Face V 5.9 A3 1973 Dennis Hennek Galen Rowell
Peak 3940 12880 Arctic Dreams IV 5.10b 1988 Pat O'Donnell Galen Rowell
Mount Conness 12590 Harding Route V 5.10c 1976 Galen Rowell Chris Vandiver
Mount Russell 14086 West Face IV 5.1 1971 Galen Rowell Chris Jones
Tulainyo Tower 12800 East Face IV 5.9 1972 Galen Rowell Marek Glogoczowski
Peak 11480 11440 That's a Sheer Cliff Route IV 5.9 1975 Vern Clevenger Galen Rowell
Mount Francis Farquhar 12893 Northeast Face IV 5.8 1971 Jeanne Neale Galen Rowell
Charlotte Dome 14058 East Arete of South Summit IV 5.9 1976 David Belden Galen Rowell
Disappointment Peak 13917 West Face IV 5.1 A2 1986 Galen Rowell Dan Frankl
North Palisade 14242 West Buttress IV 5.1 1982 David Wilson Galen Rowell
Langille Peak 11991 East Buttress Direct IV 5.10b 1988 Galen Rowell David Wilson
Seven Gables 13075 East Face Chimney Route IV 5.9 1988 Galen Rowell Kevin Worral
Bear Creek Spire 13713 South Face IV 5.9 1971 Galen Rowell
Bear Creek Spire 13713 British Chimney Route IV 5.9 A0 1978 Nigel Gifford Galen Rowell
Ruby Peak 13198 East Arete IV 5.1 1984 David Wilson Galen Rowell
Ruby Peak 13198 Central Route IV 5.1 1982 Galen Rowell Mike White
Wildcat Point 9455 Wildcat Buttress IV 5.9 A4 1972 Galen Rowell Dale Bard

Sorry about the poor layout, I'm not sure how to put the tabs back between the items.
David Wilson

Feb 29, 2012 - 07:39pm PT
jerry, galen was really diligent about sending descriptions off to the AAJ. I suspect it's all in there.

Mic, at a glance that last list is missing galen's solo on split mountain ( maybe not a IV ) and the route he and i did on the east face mt tyndall - the latter was definitely a grade IV
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 29, 2012 - 08:09pm PT
Cyclorama is in the Dumbbell Lakes area.
Jerry Dodrill

Topic Author's Reply - Feb 29, 2012 - 08:34pm PT
Wow, awesome info and ideas. I'll do some more research.

Lets keep the list going.

There's the NE Butt of Mt. Huxley that he did with Dick Duane in '97. (Hans and I did the NW Butt simultaneously.
He did a 5.8 route on a West ridge of of Mendal, or was it Darwin, on that same trip, and the first go of the Evo traverse with Croft.


Feb 29, 2012 - 08:54pm PT
I believe it was Darwin.

My buddy and I were the next people on top and found their register entry and I poached their rap rings and sling. Still have em.
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