Mini-TR: First Ascent of Mt. Clarence King's NE Ridge


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Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 22, 2006 - 10:33am PT
Labor Day weekend. Pavel's and my first attempt of the ridge with our significant others. One 30m rope and a few cams between the four of us. Holy canoly, this ridge is huge!! Down we go from its half point. Four hour epic descent brings us to the somewhat firm ground... This photo from Sixty Lakes Basin is the only thing I can show for.

Photo (c) Misha Logvinov

Two weeks later Pavel and I find ourselves hiking for 13+ miles over three high passes into Kings Canyon's Sixty Lakes Basin, again. This time the weather is not so good, 50 mph wind gusts and cooold! Finally (7.5 hours later) we get there and settle for a good night of sleep. I wake up the next morning and check my thermometer... 14F! We convince ourselves that we should get out of our sleping bags when the temperature rises a bit. It does indeed rise to 27F when it is time for us to leave. Thanks to the balmy weather, we take all our clothes with us on the climb. We would thank that decision later!

After a couple of hours of scrambling, we get to the ridge. At last, we can rope up and start simul-climbing. Here we are, moving together over beautiful and clean granite at the beginning of a gorgeous Indian summer day. Unbelieavably, it gets warm!

Photo (c) Misha Logvinov

Traversing, more traversing, a little bit more traversing... damn, that thing is long! Finally, we can see our objective. It should not take us longer than a few more hours to get to the plateau before the final rise to the summit ridge!

Photo (c) Misha Logvinov

A couple of hours stretch to six. Pavel runs out of water. I start to run out of energy. We are running out of day light. "Dude, we may have to bivy...?" "At least we have all our clothes with us!" "Let's worry about it when we get there". On the East/NE Ridge plateau at last with our route behind us. It is almost 6pm. From here it should be but a simple stroll to the summit via the easy East Ridge (Grade I, 5.4 according to a well known guidebook). Yay, we may make it down from the summit before it gets dark!

Photo (c) Pavel Kovar

Easy stroll!? We belay again and climb steep 5.7-5.8 cracks to gain the summit ridge. Grade I? 5.4? A classic obscure Sierra sandbag. Two more moderate pitches... this final rise to the summit seems longer than we thought!! Crap...

Photo (c) Pavel Kovar

Not happy campers!

After spending eleven cold and dark hours on a small granite shelf that overhangs the SE Face, we are still alive and almost kicking. Thankfully we took all our clothes with us and the night is not nearly as cold as the one before. Still below freezing though :(. Sun rolls out and blasts the peak in front us with a glorious alpenglow. Shivering and with wooden hands, we continue for three more moderate pitches to the summit. Twenty six hours since we left our camp, we are on the top of Mt. Clarence King!

Photo (c) Misha Logvinov

Down the South Face we go. Back to the camp at noon. Food and hour-long power nap recover some of our energy. Reluctantly, we pack and head back to the trailhead at 2:30pm. Somehow we manage to cover 13 miles and nearly 4000' that separate us from civilization and not puking. Back to the car at 10pm. In the Bay Area at 5am. I still have time to take a hot shower before rushing to the office to attend my first meeting of the day!

Photo (c) Misha Logvinov

Trad climber
Sep 22, 2006 - 10:49am PT
wow wow wow!

Looks really fun. very cool(cold?)TR

I liked all the shots, but I looked at the 3rd pic for a long time...

perfect thing to read with the morning coffee...starting my day right!

This is why I enjoy the ST



belgrade, mt
Sep 22, 2006 - 10:50am PT
Sick, I love it, you guys are hard men for sure. This TR exemplafies all that is good in climbing.

right here, right now
Sep 22, 2006 - 10:53am PT
Sheesh, I'm with you Misha:
Who woulda' thunk the whole thing would take that long from a high camp!

'Nice overall representation of the "structure" known as Mt. Clarence King.

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 22, 2006 - 10:56am PT
Thanks guys!

Tarbuster - no kidding! I did a quick topo! of the route after we came back. Cose to 1.5 miles of technical terrain from where we gained the ridge. My personal impression:
Matthes Crest (full ridge) x2
Thunderbolt to Sill traverse x1.5

Much more sustained than either one of these though...

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Sep 22, 2006 - 11:07am PT
nice trip report Misha...
and another great adventure in the mountains!

Ice climber
Sep 22, 2006 - 11:26am PT
Nice work guys !

Not happy campers!

I know what that's like ...

Bishop, California
Sep 22, 2006 - 11:30am PT
Hey, I think I ran into you guys above Onion Valley on Labor Day weekend. My wife and I were going in to do Charlotte Dome. Nice job on Clarence King.

The Eye of the Snail
Sep 22, 2006 - 12:04pm PT
Молодци, ребята!

I believe Clarence King was the fifth Beatle, does anyone know for sure?

Trad climber
Sep 22, 2006 - 12:26pm PT
Excellent post Misha! That one pic is probably worth the first attempt. :)

A very fun read.


Trad climber
Sep 22, 2006 - 12:38pm PT
Nice job, Misha! Wow!
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Sep 22, 2006 - 01:05pm PT
Well done! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

Trad climber
Humboldt, CA
Sep 22, 2006 - 01:22pm PT
Thanks for sharing!
Love that area - your photos capture the feel.

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 22, 2006 - 03:56pm PT
Thanks for your comments, all!

bobh - I think I remember you too! What a funny coincidence. How was Charlotte Dome?

Trad climber
Sep 22, 2006 - 05:14pm PT
All right Misha!
Good report. Thanks,

Sep 22, 2006 - 05:58pm PT

Wow. Climbing Mag upped it to a Grade VI.

Sounds like a great adventure. Well done!


Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 22, 2006 - 06:04pm PT
Damn, I just saw that... It is definitely not grade VI. We were reluctant to even call it Grade V since it is only somewhat longer than several Grave IV routes that we've done in the Sierra.

For some odd reason, they also used a photo of Dusy Basin for the "hot flash".

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Nov 22, 2010 - 09:16pm PT
BUMP for some sweet climbing content!
Holy Bajeebus this looks like an awesome adventure.

Any repeats yet?

And what do they have to do to call it a full TR?

Trad climber
Woodside, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 22, 2010 - 09:27pm PT
Hey nutjob... I don't know if there were any repeats. It is a fun route that should see more ascents! Gorgeous area too

portland, Oregon
Nov 22, 2010 - 10:09pm PT
Thank you for that trip down memory lane. I did this route back in 78' and really enjoyed it.
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