Climbed on June 20th. Great route, no snow on it. No pons required for approach or descent but the traverse down-climb to reach top of L-couli is sketchy. Ice and schrunds in all north facing gully routes right now. The route is short and quick with only three short steps of climbing harder than low 5th. Crux is the middle step and the hardest part was the awkward "5.6" step-around to reach it. The "5.7" move itself is easy.
This post is not really beta, but I first climbed the Swiss ArÍte in 1970 when I was 14, it was my first alpine climb and climbed it with John Fischer and Chris Fredericks, who were guiding/instructing for Smoke Blanchard's Palisades School of Mountaineering. I led a couple of the easy pitches.
I have written in other threads that I went to PSoM when in was 15 in 1971, but actually it was the summer of 1970 I spent a week there. My mom had to sign a waiver since I was a minor. I just came across some of the papers.
It was a week well spent.
My high school climbing buddy Steve Fish and I climbed the Swiss ArÍte in 1973.
Climbed this route yesterday. There are great campsites right below Gayley with abundant water as of late august - this i recommend because the approach afterwards is very slow and tedious. We crossed the talus below the north face of Gayley MUCH too high, many big (fridge) sized pieces were still settling - eek! Crampons were not NECESSARY but saved us an hour of step cutting, carry 'em and save time crossing the snow field. Once we gained the large snowfield below the Gayley/Sill ridge it was a quick walk to the first of the two steep couloirs - NOT the one with a bergschrund. Followed the steep snow up to SUPER sandy 3rd to gain the saddle and the short "L" snowfield to the base of the route (did NOT need crampons for this section as it recieved first sun and was nice and soft).
Started the climb straight across, on the first steep section down low - made the route about 8 pitches. Wonderful climb, lots of options, did an amazing tunnel through on pitch 3 that would be missed if doing the standard start. The step around and the hand crack up high were not much harder than some other moves down lower, but were more classic to be sure.
Got horribly off route on the descent. Down climbed fourth class on the west ridge until the first col, then downclimbed/rappeled the most horrible of loose gulley bullshit I've ever seen. Things were raining down on us the whole time, it was NOT a good way to go! Gained that second snow field, faced in with crampons and axe and down climbed to the 'schrund (which had a nice bridge about 1/2 way across) then glissaded as far as we could on suncups (ow) until we plodded across that damn snow field for like a mile. Back to Sam Mack to pack up camp (this was a horrible choice for camp - beautiful, but far too low to make much of an impact) and out to the car a little more than 2 hours later. That was a big day.
I climbed this one yesterday, I added on the variation making it around 7 pitches.
for us it went:
P1) variation start
P2) getting up to, and following the ridge
P4) easy climbing and topped with a nice dihidral with a wide crack. i belayed on the small one square foot pillar that stuck out at the top of the dihidral.
P5) crux pitch, went up an easy dihidral for a while leading to the impass. The famous step around move fantastic. After the step around was the large ledge and the 15 foot 5.7 crack. Belayed in the pod just to the left after the crack.
P6) 180' pitch, placed 2 pieces
P7) final pitch. started out super easy so we did the chimney variation. Highly recomended!
Not beta, but this was my first mountain climb. I did it with Chris Fredericks and John Fischer in 1971 when I was attending Smoke Blanchard's Palisades School of Mountaineering.
The Palisades are a beautiful area with great climbing. I was last there in 1973 when my high school climbing buddy, Steve Fish and I did the U-Notch and North Palisade. I've also done the V-Notch and Polemonium Peak climb.
It's a great climbing area and I can't wait to do some of the Temple Crag climbs someday, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
Swiss Arete II 5.7 or III 5.8 with a variation start *
Approach as for starligth except stay on teh extreme left side of the glacier untill you can go up a 3rd and 4th class gully that brings you on to the saddle between Gayley and Sill. Go up a dwindeling snow field (depending on the season) untill you see either splitter cracks that meet the buttress or till you reach a 3rd to 4th class entry to the ridge.
This route is like a shorter version of the East Buttress of Whitney.
Pitching can be done in numerous different ways. We chose a more direct start on a splitter crack that proved to be no harder than 5.8. This adds a few hundred feet onto this otherwise rather short route. From the normal start a few 5.6 pitches lead to an impass, here go around to the right on a 5.7 airy and fun traverse. Then a few hundred feet of easy climbing lead to the summit.
Go down the left side of the NW ridge than go to a notch where you can get to the N face. Go down 4th class terrain (sooo loose) and break left on a ledge to a notch that is formed by a major shoulder of Sill. Descend this notch carefully to the saddle between Gayley and Sill.
Photo: Ryan Crochiere
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