Angel Wings new route...the scoop!


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Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Nov 15, 2012 - 01:32am PT
Great show tonight Dave. Spectacular!

Gym climber
Berkeley, CA
Nov 15, 2012 - 04:31pm PT
Wow. A beautiful hard line on a stunning formation in the most beautiful area I've ever been. Thank you for sharing.

Trad climber
tahoe city
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2012 - 02:44pm PT
just getting back to this thread to answer a couple of questions that were asked:

Yes, a base camp at Hamilton Lake can be supported by having your gear packed in (and don't forget out!) by Mules. Charlie Mills at Horse Corral Meadows pack station is the man to contact. He bases the mule and packer charges on 1 1/2 days in and the same on the way out due to the long distance...though they get your gear in on the same day usually around mid day. We've been using mules to stock our base camp the last few times we've gone in there and it's great. A good tip, though, it not to start hauling a bunch of crap in there just because you have mules to shlep the load. More or less plan as if you had to carry it all, then throw in a few comforts like the beefy sleeping pad and a box of vino. The lighter loads saves you money and reduces number of mules going in. here's a picture of Brooke, who was one of our packers this last time...not your typical chew spittin' rough-neck!
Brooke wrangling mules into Angel Wings base camp before the ascent of...
Brooke wrangling mules into Angel Wings base camp before the ascent of Valkyrie
Credit: alpinist

Trad climber
tahoe city
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2012 - 02:59pm PT
The other question I recall out there was about rapping the route. Valkyrie is set up with bolted anchors at each belay station up to pitch 13, with a good percentage of those stations on a good ledge. The route can be descended pretty easily from the top of pitch 12 (the "crusty orange ledge") with 2 60 meter ropes. You skip station 11 (only 1 bolt and off to the side) It is possible, but difficult to rap from station 13 as it's at the end of a long traverse with a lot of features a pulled rope can hang up at that point you're home free...

The anchors are bomber, but not ring style hangers. As of September 2012 all the rappel anchors from pitch 12 down are slung with super-tape and either a rap-ring or carabiners in place. We fixed the route on this last time so that Epi could jug alongside and shoot the ascent. Should be some great pix. Not sure when or where he'll publish them, but there's talk of Peter writing a piece for Alpinist with Epi's images to come out next summer.

photo attached of station 13 bolts at end of a day that we established 6 new pitches and I hand drilled over 12 3/8" x 2 1/4" bolts for belay stations and a few lead protection bolts...yikes! Frazzled Forearms!

standard issue bolts at belay stations on Valkyrie.
standard issue bolts at belay stations on Valkyrie.
Credit: alpinist

Trad climber
tahoe city
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2012 - 03:04pm PT
This is just an estimate and I think Charlie may have to raise his prices in the future but I recall about $225 for the packer and horse, then $125 for each mule. the mules can carry about 55 kilo's each, though bulky items can take up room and cut into the load. Those are per day prices so multiply that by 1.5 if you're figuring on Hamilton Lake. This summer we used 4 mules in and 3 mules out. Our cost for going in was $1250 or about 300 bucks each in and a bit less coming out.

french, spider
Nov 17, 2012 - 03:20pm PT
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Nov 17, 2012 - 04:09pm PT
If you got bucks there is a very nice tent-hotel only 4 miles away:

Hamilton Lake campground can get pretty crowded since it is a prime stop on the High Sierra Trail. I noticed several nice areas to camp between the waterfall and Hamilton Lake. You'd need bear canisters for the food for sure. There is a real nice bench opposite the 'Wings near the trail.

The trail in from Crescent Meadow is by far the best. If you are having permit troubles you can also enter via Wolverton. If you are bold you could go cross country via Pear Lake, Moose Lake etc. but that would not be fast. You can also get to Angel Wings via Mineral King in almost the same distance (15 miles) but there is much more elevation gain and loss. Three different trail heads from Mineral King would get you there. Crossing the Kaweah at high water below Bearpaw meadow is... adventurous.

My mind was suitably blown when Peter mentioned on the other thread that he an Andy "day tripped" it. 30-36 miles hiking plus a major grade VI wall!


Trad climber
tahoe city
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2012 - 08:35pm PT
Yo Spider, some good info on your comments in the thread...lot's of ways to get into that part of the Great Western Divide and a lot of great climbing once you get there!

Just to clarify though, Peter and Andrew's one day "car to car" climb mentioned on the other thread was referring to his recent dash in to Merriam Peak to do two routes in a day on that peak (routes he had previously established, about 6 pitches each I believe..). Clearly still a rocking hard day and I'm certain that Valkyrie will be a prime contender to get a car to car ascent since the 16 pitches are straightforward and the hike (though 16 miles) is relatively mild with a light pack. I might go so far as to say I;d rather hike in with a rack and rope for a one day blitz of Valkyrie than hump an overnight load in there....hmmmm sounds fun!

photo not found
Missing photo ID#274266
David Wilson

Nov 17, 2012 - 08:56pm PT
My dad was with Steck on the FA of the original route. It was left of yours pretty much the whole way, finishing in the big chimney system. It looks like you might have shared one pitch #9. They made a movie of that climb that's quite vintage and cool to see. I'll ask Steck if it's digitized - I suspect not.

Michael Graber and Eric Brand and I tried to do their route free in 85ish and got up about 5-6 pitches when Eric ended up leading a bottoming seam and using copperheads etc...and eventually took a long fall....we bailed shortly thereafter.

Great job on this ! That wall is big and proud.

Trad climber
Central Sierra
Nov 17, 2012 - 09:36pm PT
gotta share this.....
I was the manager out at Bearpaw High Sierra Camp this past summer and heard that Nettle and Croft were in the area from some trail crew buds. Me and my crew of 4 were working hard all summer busting out delicious meals and fresh baked goods to our awesome guests in the backcountry. A few of us on the crew were climbers, and I personally was stoked to hear that Croft and Nettle were close by.
Late season we went out to climb the North Arete of Hamilton Dome, directly accross canyon from the Angel Wings. Supposed to be 6 pitches of 5.7. We spotted an easy rap off. Felt pretty good about it all. Went halfway up to where the route steepened and we got bit off route. I bailed on lead twice on some hard 5.10 loose climbing. Had to get lowered from sketchy slings. Later, at camp, we found out we were on North Arete left side 5.10(described in Secors). My partner was not into leading through it so we thought about bailing the route. 'Should we stay or should we go now' was running through my head but then I asked 'What would Croft do?' and went up a third time through a roof section that felt 10d. I felt this huge rush of adrenaline and topped the pitch out to a nice ledge. We did a few more moderate pitches, topped out and rapped all before sunset. Awesome summit register with very little activity in the last 12 years. Only counted about 10 or 12 names total. Dave, saw your name in there twice. Huge inspiration felt from the nearby team of Croft & Nettle and so glad to get it all done. I later found out that Thau and Epperson were involved which is even more awesome. Thanks for doing what you guys do!
Oh and by the way, Brooke the packer dropped off a lot of loads for us too. Something special that one! Didn't see her put a dip in once.

Big Wall climber
Reno, Nevada
Nov 17, 2012 - 10:32pm PT
SOLID!!! I'm bummed I missed your slides a few night ago. Thanks for posting. Cheers mate!
Big Mike

Trad climber
Nov 18, 2012 - 02:07pm PT
Wow! Awesome guys! Nice work. Looks like a gem!!!

Trad climber
tahoe city
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 19, 2012 - 11:07am PT
On this last trip to the Wings, when we finally completed the route, Epi did essentially all the photography and I really don't have many "on route" images. This one is taken of Peter just pulling up onto "Chiclet Towers" at the top of the 13th with Greg in full "jug and shoot" mode.

I'll see if I can dig up some shots from our previous trips back there to post.
peter croft pulling up onto chiclet towers, pitch 13 on Valkyrie.  gre...
peter croft pulling up onto chiclet towers, pitch 13 on Valkyrie. greg epperson decked out for action, having just jugged the route and photographed Peter and Brandon's entire ascent to this point.
Credit: alpinist
The Alpine

Nov 19, 2012 - 11:42am PT
yeeeeee hawww!
noriko nakagawa

Trad climber
eldorado springs co
Nov 29, 2012 - 06:14pm PT
Great line and topos/photos. Congrats and thanks for sharing!

Trad climber
Nov 29, 2012 - 06:18pm PT
if you did a car-to-car, you couldn't have brooke pack your gear.

as best i can tell, that's one of the high points.

Social climber
Oakland, CA
Nov 29, 2012 - 06:26pm PT
this is great stuff, thanks for posting up.

jamais, jamais pays
Nov 29, 2012 - 08:22pm PT
Well done. Thanks for the post-up and pictures.
How much do you love climbing in the Sierras.

Trad climber
Lake Tahoe
Nov 29, 2012 - 08:42pm PT
What an awesome place this must be, thanks for the info and the stoke!

Looks like a well-developed trail below, as well. :)

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
Nov 29, 2012 - 08:47pm PT
Is the line that continues up the obvious corner halfway up already established? Why break out right?

Must be a pre-established route? Nice route, guys!
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