The Idiots Guide To Descending Lone Pine Peak


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Messages 1 - 20 of total 83 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 23, 2009 - 08:33pm PT
"The Reverse South Face" **
Grade IV, Class 3, A0
First Known Winter Nighttime Descent: March 16/17, 2009 Dirtbag Vic and Crass Kras.

Gear: The crux pitches of this mega-classic are now equipped with fixed anchors. Some parties, however, may find a light alpine rack helpful. In addition, to fully enjoy this adventure, you will need winter bivy gear (including stove and pot for melting snow), ice axes, 70 meter rope, lots of Gu and Nicorette, a borderline functional cell phone, and a partner of equally questionable capacity for rational decision making.
Like him...

Or this exalted specimen of cerebral prowess

Highly detailed descriptions and topos can be found here so I will only include a general outline here.
Ascend the North-East Ridge of Lone Pine Peak from the desert floor.

In winter conditions this may require technical climbing ranging from 5.tree to 5.aid along with plenty of walking, scrambling, snow traverses, and a rappell or two.

Along the way you will encounter stunning views, first-rate accomodations, and fine dining.

It is important to keep in mind that the ridge does eventually end. Not today, not tomorrow, but maybe the day after. Once you have completely lost that faith and are fully
convinced that you will spend the rest of your life on this approach, you'll know that you are close to the start of "The Reverse South Face". Surmount the final headwall (3 pitches 5.snow/5.loose) and follow the description in the next section.

Finding the Route:
If you have timed the approach correctly you will arrive at the summit plateau with about an hour of daylight left on the third day. Turn to your left and cast an explorer's gaze towards Owens Valley. This is what you'll see.

Now, convince yourself that you WILL be at the car THAT night and GO.
Important: Speed is safety in the mountains and if you feel compelled to engage in any time-wasting maneuvers such as checking the map or, worse yet, hunkering down for another bivy, then "The Reverse South Face" is not an appropriate route for you and you should return when you can truly rise to the level of derangement required by this proud testpiece. If, on the other hand, your reptilian brain is happily oblivious to any considerations outside of a 12oz bottle, then you are ready,... carry on, you'll see the start soon enough. It looks like this:

The Climb:
Engage in an endless series of ever steepening rappells down the offset ramp system in a huge right-facing corner. As each ramp peters out, imagine that the glimmer you see at the very end of your headlamp highbeam is indeed flat(er) ground/snow, that the going will get easy from there, and launch into a free hanging rap towards it feeling smug about bringing the 70 instead of the 50. Upon discovering that it is just another ramp, anchor in, forget everything you've learned so far, rinse and repeat. Build your anchors to keep you out of the way of the shower of snowmelt coming down the corner. This isn't really possible, but it's fun to try. You will earn extra style points if you arrange to leave ALL your gear except for the Yellow Alien which someone shall have to pry from your cold dead fingers after you and your pathetic excuse for a rap anchor are found somewhere in Tuttle Creek.

Eventually you will come to a sloping 2'x4' ledge fully equipped with a mini-tree, some horns, and a trickle of running water. This is a luxurious place to wait for the sunrise and will eventually become your home for the night, but for now it is best to fail in appreciating its significance and better yet to fail to see it entirely. Instead continue rappelling past it to the end of the rope arguing against the basic premises of Newtonian mechanics to try to not get tensioned off into the void from the slipery and narrowing ramp. Sir Isaak will eventually prevail in this little debate which is why he is immortalized in the annals of scientific literature and you are well on your way to an
ANAM writeup, perhaps even a Darwin Award.

Relax, and enjoy the ride. It is entertaining to contemplate what you know about tensioned ropes grinding over sharp edges. You may wonder if the fact that the rope is frozen makes it stronger or more likely to snap like a breadstick, whether Sir Isaak Newton knows, and whether you will get to ask him in person shortly. Or you can just scream. Either way, spinning at the end of the pendulum, it is a great place for some quiet introspection. While your partner makes a frantic call to Inyo SAR and has the phone crap out right after mumbling something about steep terrain and the Tuttle Creek drainage, take the time to fully appreciate the epic magnitude of your folly. Take the time to feel proud of yourself. Wow, you've finally arrived at the end of the line(literally). You have finally crossed the ill defined border between hardass and dumbass. Limits of idiocy reached and breached on "The Reverse South Face" of Lone Pine Peak. Enjoy the moment.

Now, get your sh*t together and start prussiking, moron. A few inches at a time so as not to bounce that rope over the edge too much. The longer it takes the better because it's keeping you warm and busy. Dry-heave from dehydration occasionally, sucking on the rope won't really help. Upon reaching the aformentioned ledge, anchor in and start collecting sips from the trickle (one every 5 minutes or so, but VERY tasty) while your partner raps down to you. Wrap your sleeping bags around yourselves and engage in witty repartee. Console yourselves with the fact that Warren Harding had to be rescued once too which will make it ever so slightly less embarrassing. Occasional fits of sleep will be interrupted by the sharp tug of your tether as you slide off the ledge.

In the morning, with your vision unimpaired by the combined factors of darkness and cretinism, rig a not too complicated series of rappells and arrive at easier ground just in time to see the helicopter show up. Wave them off with a feeling of relief at having finally done something borderline competent. The chopper will continue to monitor your progress throughout the day (ALL DAY) which it actually takes to hike back to the desert floor. When you get back to the car and charge the phone, you will probably find out that Sgt. Hardcastle has called your mother earlier that morning to clarify the descrepancy between the name on the registration on the car and the name of the caller from the previous night. He told her that everything was fine but upon hearing the words "search and rescue", "the woman became hysterical". Call your mother. Call your girlfriend and sister too. Call Sgt. Hardcastle to thank him and leave a donation to Inyo SAR. Congratulations, you've completed "The Reverse South Face".

tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 23, 2009 - 08:47pm PT
good to hear it turned out all right.

climber a single wide......
Mar 23, 2009 - 08:54pm PT
Oh Man that is UBER-Classic epic shitttttzle

hats way off to you guys ascending the endless ridge, and not killing yourself once you made the very wrong turn
and the very wrong decision.

Trad climber
Mar 23, 2009 - 08:59pm PT

San Fran Cisco
Mar 23, 2009 - 08:59pm PT
Are you sure that is the best way down?

Great ER.

Trad climber
Vacaville Ca,
Mar 23, 2009 - 09:05pm PT
Someday, you'll look back at this experience and laugh.

For the rest of us, that day is today!


Mar 23, 2009 - 09:09pm PT
Ha DRC was laughing about it over beers a few nights ago!

Good job brah!

mark miller

Social climber
Mar 23, 2009 - 09:09pm PT
Dude I'm 1 in 4 on that Freakin' ridge it's beyond Uber classic true Bonnatti adventure.Nice job but there is an easier descent. I want to do that lunar or solar or whatever it is called buttress that ends on the NR.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Mar 23, 2009 - 09:25pm PT
anyone want to post up the real descent?

Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Mar 23, 2009 - 09:35pm PT

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Mar 23, 2009 - 09:44pm PT
Hilariously classy.
What do you got planned for your next epic?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 23, 2009 - 09:46pm PT
Wild. Glad to hear you survived it!
Dingus Milktoast

Mar 23, 2009 - 10:05pm PT
You guys are bad ass.


Mountain climber
Mar 23, 2009 - 10:22pm PT
Great TR and great pics! Thanks.

Trad climber
sf ca
Mar 23, 2009 - 10:28pm PT
DRC... as per our conversation the other night I can't heckle too much but.... Holy Fu*&^%$ Bagalaar! The shot with the chopper is classic and I want to see it blown up in your house. Second, You are now on electronic item carrying probation for any further climbing endeavors grade I-VI until proven you can avoid the dreaded drunk dial. This probationary period will consist of mandatory load humping, beer runs, and leading all pitches deemed "unsatisfactory" by partners for a period of no less than.....

You are still my favorite russian, happy you guys made it and great read!


Social climber
Los Angeles, CA
Mar 23, 2009 - 10:30pm PT
Classic. I want to get helicoptered to the top of that thing so I'll be nice and fresh for that awesome descent.

Trad climber
Mar 23, 2009 - 10:32pm PT

this is especially good reading for those of you who have done the route and agonized over the proper descent chute/gully or at least read the descent description in secor.

bonus style points for the retro hat and beard.

you'd have racked up even more had it been a balaclava, in that same grey wool.

Not here
Mar 23, 2009 - 10:40pm PT
Oh my, I had to share this one with "everyone" including non-climbers. Everyone is greatly appreciating it. You guys rock!!!
Good job for making it out and... Thanks for telling us what "not to do" with such a happy ending! :)AF

Social climber
Berkeley, CA
Mar 23, 2009 - 11:03pm PT
well done. tell krasner that sumi and i enjoyed this report :)

Social climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Mar 24, 2009 - 12:31am PT
Excellent read and great photos! Thanks for the laugh and glad you made it down well...
Messages 1 - 20 of total 83 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Return to Forum List
Post a Reply
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta
Recent Gear Reviews