hardest mountain to climb in the Sierra Nevada is ... ?


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Erik of Oakland

Gym climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 6, 2009 - 06:18pm PT
threshold criteria would include altitude, aesthetics, and prominence. What mountain that is sufficiently high, classy, and prominent is the hardest to climb by its easiest route?

North Palisade? Mount Humphreys?

edit: another important criterion would have to be exposure

Mountain climber
Mar 6, 2009 - 06:22pm PT
Those that are closed all summer due to sheep/goats or whatever...

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Mar 6, 2009 - 06:30pm PT
Mt Clarence King

Easiest route is 5.4

Edit: I have now noted that Clarence King has the East Ridge route, rated 4th class, except for the summit block, which is given 5.4. I climbed this peak via the Regular Route, up the South Ridge & it was fair for the grade, but I had rock shoes for the summit monolith.

I therefore have to say that Thunderbolt's summit block, while more difficult, is not as difficult as Mt. Clarence King. You could do North Pal or T-bolt in a car-to car day, if your fit. It would take Herculean effort & tenacity to do Mt. Clarence King in a 1-day mission. It's more remote & farther from the road.

And let us not forget the Castle Rock Spire, in Sequoia N.P., whose easiest route is 5.9 A2 or 5.11B/C if done free. It may not quite be a mountain but it's the hardest technical summit in the range.

Castle Rock Spire & the Fin. This is not to be confused with Fin Dome, near Mt. Clarence King, which is similar to Matthes Crest, but smaller.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Mar 6, 2009 - 06:32pm PT
If you're talking just the summit block itself, Thunderbolt is 5.9.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 6, 2009 - 06:33pm PT
Clarence King and Brewer look really cool. Someday for sure.

Mar 6, 2009 - 06:35pm PT
One or more of the Devil's Crags. Remote and kitty litter.

Black Kaweah and neighbors will get your attention as well.

the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Mar 6, 2009 - 06:41pm PT
Lost Arrow Spire 12b

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 6, 2009 - 07:07pm PT
LA Spire is a mountain???

Thunderbolt isn't continuous enough at 5.9 is it?


Trad climber
Mar 6, 2009 - 07:20pm PT
Mt. Whitney. The crux is getting the permit.

Trad climber
stealth camping and hiding from the man
Mar 6, 2009 - 07:26pm PT
The one remaining one that hasn't been climbed...you can't even find that one!

Trad climber
Truckee, CA.
Mar 6, 2009 - 09:04pm PT
Mt Morrison can be fairly psycho.
The Warbler

the edge of America
Mar 6, 2009 - 09:10pm PT
Never bagged it, but Williamson, the Sierra's 3rd highest summit, takes a lot of effort from what I've heard.

Social climber
So Cal
Mar 6, 2009 - 09:14pm PT
Out of the 14'ers, it has to be Thunderbolt with N. Pal and Starlight in a close second place tie.

Williamson is a long walk and a short legal window to get to, but the climbing isn't any worse than the friction route descent at Tahquitz.

dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Mar 6, 2009 - 09:33pm PT
1. Starlight
2. T. Bolt
3. North Pal
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Mar 6, 2009 - 09:43pm PT
Morrison North Face. According to a few friends, supposedly the scariest/crapiest rock in the sierra... i am not touching it
The Warbler

the edge of America
Mar 6, 2009 - 09:46pm PT
Did North Pal by thre U Notch when I was 14, seemed pretty mellow, not a bad hike, easy climbing.

Maybe for over 14ers it's the hardest technically. A fine view from its summit is my strongest memory.

Surely there's a summit demanding more than 5.6 or whatever that is.
pip the dog

Mountain climber
planet dogboy
Mar 7, 2009 - 06:25am PT
with respect, i find the question "Hardest mountain to climb in the Sierra Nevada?" rather off target.

wouldn't "most gorgeous routes in the Sierra" be a better focus?

just a thought...

the Swiss Arete on Mt. Sills pops quick to mind. a gorgeous route on a glorious peak. and if "hard" is especially important to you, solo it. it's just a 5.7 (mostly far less) -- but alone and ropeless there are a few moments when it suddenly seems very big and very exposed indeed. mostly it is just big joy.


Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Mar 7, 2009 - 06:50am PT
I agree Pip, the Swiss ArÍte is sweet.

Trad climber
Mar 7, 2009 - 09:35am PT
I remember driving up to Mammoth as a kid and looking at Mt Morrison, thinking one day I would climb it...Well read up on it....It is nick named the Eiger of the Sierras. Suppose to be a loose block party. Anybody want to clean a line for me?

Trad climber
here to eternity
Mar 7, 2009 - 09:51am PT
Mt. Morrison is a stunning looking peak from the 395 or up closer. But I've read of some scarefests that took place on it and by some very competent people if I remember correctly.

Probably read it right here, but I'm pre-coffee still. :-)

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