The Idiots Guide To Descending Lone Pine Peak


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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...

Mar 24, 2009 - 12:46am PT
High comedy (pun intended). Glad you are alright.

Old Pueblo, AZ
Mar 24, 2009 - 12:48am PT
Classic! Epic! Adventure! Thanks!

San Francisco, CA
Mar 24, 2009 - 01:15am PT

Mar 24, 2009 - 01:46am PT
Classic. You guys rock. thanks for the TR

Mar 24, 2009 - 02:33am PT
righteous tr

Stoked OW climber
San Jose, CA
Mar 24, 2009 - 07:07am PT
Awesome adventure, and extra points for the witty and stylish write-up!

Can I keep you in the list of potential partners if I get so desperate for acknowledgment that I try for ANAM?

Trad climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 08:10am PT

glad to hear to tale


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Mar 24, 2009 - 08:30am PT
Just as I'm losing hope in Supertopo, lately swamped by soapboxers who hate, along comes
another fine climbing tale. Well illustrated too, that was a fun read.

Mar 24, 2009 - 10:11am PT
This is very good.
Glad you're here humorously to tell us about it.

and when read with this TR:

"The Idiot's girlfriend's Guide to Descending Lone Pine Peak"

It is excellent.

Thank you both.

Trad climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 11:17am PT
Now I understand why you didn't want to tell me in person. Can't wait for the musical.

Mar 24, 2009 - 11:28am PT
Glad to hear you are ok. I knew you were up to some kind of sufferfest. I love the pictures. Let me know if you just want to do some climbing close to the car. Does anyone have a picture of the correct descent?

Mar 24, 2009 - 01:20pm PT
Awesome report, thanks. I had my own epic descent on Lone Pine a long time back in different circumstances: 105 degree July heat. It involved dehydration, blind rappels, general disorientation and eventual wandering onto the valley floor, a day or two late and miles from the car. All good, when you live to tell, eh?

I know we all have different ideas of what the purpose of ST is, and that's as it should be. But I find it a little odd that a thread as great as this one can't stay on page one for 24 hours. I'm bumping yosgun's "tr" too--a sweet pairing.

Trad climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 01:28pm PT
Glad you're ok. Hopefully nobody will follow your instructions, though. :-) Thanks for the great writeup!

Trad climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 02:02pm PT
Great TR...Funny read. Glad you made it back ok. I love trip reports with wonderful pics.
Roger Breedlove

Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Mar 24, 2009 - 02:20pm PT
Great TR and HR (yosguns' home report).
corniss chopper

Mountain climber
san jose, ca
Mar 24, 2009 - 02:22pm PT
The views of a wintertime bivi on LPP are awesome due to the low sun angle.
I've walked this route. Water may be had on the summit plateau above the tree line in the grassy clumps.
The sand/gravel line is best for going down if you can find the
ledge to cross over to it.


San Francisco, CA
Mar 24, 2009 - 02:49pm PT
Bump...cause I'd like to keep us together too!

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Mar 24, 2009 - 02:50pm PT
So dissimilar and yet so much climbing spirit, between the 2 Lone Pine TRs and Southern Belle
on ST's front page today.

Trad climber
sf ca
Mar 24, 2009 - 04:20pm PT
Bump for being an honest Iron curtain cowboy!

Trad climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 06:27pm PT
Brutus of Wyde

Old Climbers' Home, Oakland CA
Mar 24, 2009 - 06:59pm PT
Nice TR!!!

Keeping off the rappels really isn't hard at all:

If it looks like you're heading toward cliffs (That huge south face seen when looking up Tuttle Creek) don't go that way.

(If you haven't looked up at the South Face, then remember in Gladiator when the hero is trying to get back to his wife and kid before the Praetorians kill them, and pauses to have a campfire... That's the Peak in the background, and the left escarpment is the thing you DON'T want to descend unless you like to write TRs like this one)...

ANYWAYS, don't go that way.

If it gets dark, bivy before getting into trouble (Done that two different times on the way down from the summit plateau)

Hope this helps!


"Experience is the worst teacher: It gives you the test before you have taken the course."

Mar 24, 2009 - 07:16pm PT
Does DRC have a new nickname ? The chef suggested
"iron curtain cowboy?" Kinda fitting


Social climber
New Zealand -> Santa Barbara
Mar 24, 2009 - 07:37pm PT
Great TR and thanks for posting up such a fine tale. Must go up there myself sometime...

Cheers, Roy
mark miller

Social climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 08:18pm PT
Your TR is great but the route info on the Link is inaccurate, on dates at least.
I climbed that Route with Harding's et al,( Christy Tews) in 82 or 83 and the summit registry already had many ascents including winter ascents back then.

Trad climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 09:09pm PT
Sweet TR,

Trad climber
Mar 24, 2009 - 11:43pm PT
Back to the front page bump.....
Timid TopRope

Social climber
Paradise, CA
Mar 24, 2009 - 11:53pm PT
great writing of yur epic! i particularly like what this line (with pictures to illustrate) connotes about getting up in the high and wild,

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

Nice pictures too! thanks


Boulder climber
Salt Lake, UT
Mar 25, 2009 - 12:47am PT
Great TR. I've looked up at that ridge a few times, and while it looked fun, I did wonder about the time back to the car.

Mar 25, 2009 - 02:17am PT
Great tr. When Victor and I were talking on the phone, I had no idea what an E-ticket this really was. Nice job in getting up ,over, and down. Sheesh!

Sport climber
Mar 25, 2009 - 03:22pm PT
Last until August at least! j/k

I really enjoyed reading this. Amazing adventure!

I am truly happy you guys are safe..

Trad climber
Green Mountains, Vermont
Mar 25, 2009 - 04:15pm PT
Excellent. Way to bring the morbid humor of the moment to a TR.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 25, 2009 - 04:37pm PT
approach...from the desert floor

That's not merely the approach, it's the direct start to the approach. Rarely even contemplated. Foolishness worthy of the great Warren Harding. Uh...didn't see any bunnies, did you?


Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 25, 2009 - 04:44pm PT
No white bunnies DR, there was some deliriuos contemplation of the Williamson escapade next winter.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 25, 2009 - 05:00pm PT

Now that the iron door of "official" winter has clanged shut, visions of Williamson are safely distant.

For now.

Pass me that hookah. I need a shot of that, what was it? Strawberry banana? Peachy half-rack?

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Mar 26, 2009 - 03:31am PT
Just back from an OT road trip, and this...this does not deserve to be buried on the third page.

Hilarious and well-written epic-with-a-happy-ending BUMP!!!!!

Trad climber
Mar 26, 2009 - 11:08am PT
So we can we say there is now a rap route coming off the SFLPP? Sweet! Way to play it cool and get down in one piece. Hilarious TR!

The funny thing was that we were up there the same day you guys were. We were trying to send Dynamo Hum, the massive right facing dihedral that you came down several hours later. Did you see our tracks/anchors anywhere? We had to bail because it started falling apart and water was gushing everywhere. There was some nice mixed pitches but it had just gotten too warm.


Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 12:55pm PT
Your tracks were like a guiding light in that canyon. We followed them all the way to the stone house. Would've taken twice as long without em. It was still a bit confusing around "The Hole".


Trad climber
San Diego
Mar 26, 2009 - 02:00pm PT
Thats crazy that you guys found our tracks. We knew that the gully we were in cliffed out so we decided to switch gullies through that hole. It was pretty cool how it ended up working out.

Nice TR! The thing I love most about spending the time to write a good TR is when you read it again after a year or two or 10. It really brings you back to the moment and brings a smile to your face. I can see you reading this TR some years down the line. Good for you!

I think traveling_light and I might write up something about our dynamo hum failure. Or at least our Ambien induced ice tool fight. stay tuned...
Nate Ricklin

San Diego
Mar 26, 2009 - 02:28pm PT
Nice Send on the NER in Winter! Did you do the straight-up exit variation or the death gully?

Oh, and had you guys done the descent from LPP before?! It can get WAY gnarly down in Tuttle Creek, manzanita-style. I wouldn't want to do it for the first time at night... You guys basically went down the worst possible way, I can't believe you rapped the south face!

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 02:43pm PT
We looked for the 5.7/fingercrack rock exit but I don't think we found it. Basically from the notch at the end of the ridge we went more or less straight up following the path of least resistance/mental taxation. As in, yarding on gear on anything close to vertical. There were some snow chutes and lots of loose stuff. We saw what looked like a finger crack over the final overhang, but Kras decided it looked like 5.12 and traversed to the right and then up. It involved some belly crawling but was not too hard.
Agreed, if our objective had been to find the worst possible descent, then we succeeded;)

Mar 26, 2009 - 02:46pm PT

You definitely beat Ian and my descent off banner. Hell, the chopper pretty much trumps most everything (except actually getting in one)


Mar 26, 2009 - 03:13pm PT
Did I hear someone say "Banner"?

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Mar 26, 2009 - 03:51pm PT
You got Banner stories?
John Moosie

Beautiful California
Mar 26, 2009 - 04:26pm PT
Yowzer. Nice tale. Great writing.

Thanks !!!

Mar 26, 2009 - 04:32pm PT
Yeah I've got a Banner Story. Cr0tch - was it you and your wife that Ian and I met up there last summer. We help you through the free crux and you help us (US = 2 ICE/SNOW noobs) on the descent.

We had crappy baby insteps.


Trad climber
Mar 26, 2009 - 06:50pm PT
With all this wonderful "discussion" going on, I just had to chime in...
Nate: to answer your question, we did go straight up, deciding against the death gully; there was some unimpressive climbing (2 pitches or so) which lead you to an obvious finger crack - the crack begins at an overhang and becomes harder, my guess on a good day, dry it's 11+, 12, so we decided against that being in plastics and with a pack. I headed right, past the crack and climbed what was mostly an easy pitch, with a short section of 5.7 but with good gear; then it became easier - drc took some other variation, as I placed only 3-4 pieces for the entire rope length - I am not sure if his variation was easier or harder, but he did bark something about "screwing the second." I don't think it is the route described on the summitpost page, but am sure there are many ways to make it onto the plateau from the notch.


Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2009 - 06:51pm PT
Ah Kras, velcome to the taco stand brah;)

Mar 26, 2009 - 07:01pm PT
Loved it. Nice work on the route, and a fabulous TR!

Social climber
Mar 26, 2009 - 08:35pm PT
hey there, say... i always love it when you all draw the routes on the photos...

say, thanks for the share...

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Mar 26, 2009 - 10:13pm PT
Great Epic Story! As a old fart climber who had his adventures in the 1970's and 80's------I am impressed that you were able to share this epic so soon.

It used to take me 5-10 years, and a lot of alcohol, before I could confess to the route gone wrong and the horrible, stupid (only in retrospect) retreat.

Wonderful reading, and yes I would love to see more of this on ST.
thanks, Fritz

Mar 27, 2009 - 04:20pm PT
Yup, that was us on Banner last summer, a climb that just kept going and going and going. Did you guys take any pics? I think I left my camera in the bag most of the day.

Oakland: what's not to love?
Mar 30, 2009 - 02:16pm PT



Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jun 16, 2009 - 09:05am PT

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jun 26, 2009 - 12:56am PT
bump for one of the most humble and hilarious TR's I have ever read twice!

DRC/Dirka/Iron curtain cowboy, you are the man.

Trad climber
Mill Valley, CA
Jun 26, 2009 - 01:06am PT
I recently recommended this report to someone and then read it again, too. Still one of the best in years, in my recall.
Mike Dahlquist

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Jun 26, 2009 - 01:07am PT
Did this route make it in the new Secor "Peaks, Passes and Trails: 3rd Edition," or do we have to wait for the 4th?

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 26, 2009 - 01:19am PT
Nice writing and some good chuckles. You gotta love a good epic. Worth reading again-bump.

Just takin' the long way home...
Jun 26, 2009 - 01:53am PT

I am laughing so hard, the tears are running. In another lifetime I might've suggested being kinder to yourself because, after all, we all make mistakes...even multiple dumb-arse right after another (mine is called Sleeping With Farting Strangers: The Day I Didn't Summit Whitney). But the whipping-boy tone of this piece, drc, has me rolling on the floor. Brilliant storytelling, simply brilliant.

Thanks for an excellent TR of a happy-you-lived-to-talk-about-it epic. The photo of the "fine dining experience" will live in my memory forever...

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jun 26, 2009 - 10:18am PT
Thanks for a fun thread!
Josh Nash

Social climber
riverbank ca
Jun 26, 2009 - 01:23pm PT
Holy Crap! I had tears I was laughing so hard! I am glad that everyone is safe.

A pile of dirt.
Mar 4, 2010 - 04:40pm PT
Yo drc,

Where have you been? What up with you and this JOB shit!


Mar 6, 2010 - 01:17pm PT
too funny!!! i loved the manzanita on the way to the climbs!

A pile of dirt.
Nov 16, 2011 - 03:37pm PT
One of the best trip reports ever
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