East Buttress, Mt. Whitney 5.7

 
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High Sierra, California USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
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Summary of All Ratings

SuperTopo Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.4)
Your Rating:     (none)
Rating Distribution
13 Total Ratings
5 star: 54%  (7)
4 star: 31%  (4)
3 star: 15%  (2)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Hoots

climber
Toyota Tacoma
Mar 1, 2014 - 02:42pm
 
It was almost completely dry this past week. That has changed though… Check the weather and plan accordingly. Can it be done- sure, absolutely. It dries pretty quick though can hold snow on those ledges up high. Goes into the shade pretty quickly too.
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LuckyJack

Trad climber
Novato, CA
Mar 1, 2014 - 01:44pm
 
Does anyone know how early this route can reasonably be done? End of April in a light snow year like this?
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johntp

Trad climber
socal
May 24, 2013 - 06:38pm
 
Tried it once. The party above on the slabs where dropping so many rocks we bailed. Have not been back. My partners preferred sleeping in to being first on the route. It was early in the season and there were a lot of loose baseballs.
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BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
May 24, 2013 - 04:14pm
 
Great route and lots of fun. If the Mountaineer's route is in good shape..meaning that the snow isn't too deep, you can run laps up it from Iceberg Lake.
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elsbree

Trad climber
Arcata, CA
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   May 24, 2013 - 11:48am
Climbed 5/21. Watch out for a big loose block on the first pitch about 15 feet (maybe?) off the belay. It's pretty well positioned to hit the belay ledge beneath it.
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poopmouth

Mountain climber
Flagstaff, AZ
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   Oct 25, 2012 - 12:19pm
Great route, did this on Oct 16th, definitely getting cold and some snow and ice on the route. Start as early as you can. Some pitches were made significantly more difficult because of the snow and ice overall still really fun route and quite the adventure. One axe between the two of us was a good idea for the descent
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schaffner

Trad climber
Jun 1, 2012 - 03:49pm
 
Conditions:
 Crampons/ice axe wasn't necessary to descent MR, only the first third of the chute has suncupped ice, but that could be avoided by staying climber's right.
 East Buttress almost completely free of snow.
 Friends on East Face had some sketchy sections due to snow on ledges.
 Upper Boy Scout Lake was completely melted last weekend. It seemed that there is also water at Iceberg Lake, we saw blue patches at the sides.

Route:
My partner opted for the 5.5 variation on pitch 5. Standing on a big ledge in front of the 5.6 cracks she traversed right, and found something like a like a crack, which she climbed. Definitely not 5.5 and the only useful hold was about to rip off. So we probably missed the real 5.5 variation.

After the Peewee we lost track of where we are in relation to the topo. At some point (pitch 9?) we climbed a left-facing dihedral which started almost as a chimney but had a spicy undercling move high up... somebody left some pink slings there. If anybody knows what part of the route that was, please let me know. Felt more like 5.8.

Gear:
Brought BDs #.5 to #3, doubles in .75 and 1. Yellow-blue and Orange-yellow Metolius offset cams. Besides that a bunch of nuts. We didn't use the offset cams a lot (because the size was not necessary, not b/c they were offsets) and also placed only 4 nuts. For all but 1 or 2 belays we found blocks/horns to sling.

Radios were useful even though we had no wind.
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climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
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   Aug 6, 2011 - 12:13am
No need at all for axe or crampons for approach or descent at this time. Lower section of trail above first crossing somewhat washed out but easily passable. First two creek crossings still suggest barefoot.

I found the route really enjoyable with no serious worries about rockfall. The little bit of loose rocks are easy to avoid knocking down. There are a couple spots where you may want to be careful cranking on a large block and instead work around carefully making that bit of climbing more challenging. The ambiance of the route is quiet. I never seemed to hear the clinking of gear and biner clips of the leader. Made the climb feel pleasantly solitary at times on belay.

Somehow we seemed to have added a full 150'ish pitch to the route on ST. somewhere in the P4 to P6 area. Maybe we lost count but it sure had us shaking our heads. Didn't matter a bit. All but last couple pitches required at least a few pieces of pro for well protected and easy crux moves. Last couple pitches just scrambled with rope over shoulder to the exact summit via very enjoyable 4th class.
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NotIt

Trad climber
SF, CA
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   Jul 6, 2011 - 08:40pm
conditions 7/1/2011:

Plan on removing shoes for creek crossings - it's banging!

Avoidable snow from LBSL to UBSL
Lots of mandatory snow travel from UBSL onward, including the chute cutting up (SW) from Upper Boyscout. Limited postholing if you're good about route finding.

Holes have been cut for gathering water from Iceberg Lake.

Entry to Mountaineers Route descent was full-value. Definite axe+crampons territory as of the above date, though middle 1/3 of descent is wind-scoured and snow-free.

Advice to go as soon as the route is in the sun is sound! We started late and were freezing on the upper half!

Route itelf is very casual EXCEPT the "tightly packed cracks" section. May have just been way I took but definitely a section with rock loose enough to get you thinking!

If this is your only objective in the area, take a SUPER light rack - we probably placed 3-4 pieces per 200' (nuts + cams .5-3.0 - there are a tons of 3.0 placements) - partner and I are low 5.10 leaders, for reference.

Top 1/4 of route will make you wonder "are we there yet?". When in doubt, work left.


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Seamstress

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Aug 22, 2010 - 12:11pm
 
No. There was a little snow left at the top of the Mountaineer's Route, but easily avoided by staying on the left wall (climbers left, right going down). The wall is a very easy downclimb with just one anxiety producing moment at the last move dropping onto the notch if you have never done it before. There was no snow in the gully and no snow on the approach.

ON the approach, follow the supertopo description and avoid going up the waterfall at 12,000'. That was freezing over most nights. Stay with the cairns and go up the dirt gully.
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harpo

Trad climber
South Lake Tahoe
Aug 21, 2010 - 12:55pm
 
I am going to do the East Buttress this coming week. Any need for ice axe or crampons?
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Sam E

Boulder climber
Malibu
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   Jul 2, 2009 - 12:19pm
Led the route with two wraps of the rope around my waist and slings, in approach shoes. A great adventure. Watch out for rope drag on some of the wandering pitches. Topped out to an empty summit. Descended the Mountaineer's Route. Excellent exposure, some of the pitches were beautiful to climb, fun movement over great rock.
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treddy

Trad climber
On the road
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   Jun 1, 2009 - 11:00am
Great time: did east buttress, camping the night before and sticking around longer for an attempt on mt. russel. Still snow and ice on the route and in cracks, which along with constant snowstorms brought up the adventure level. Great time though. Pictures of the trip are here:rnhttp://picasaweb.google.com/treddy/MtWhitneyTriprnrn
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JMC

climber
the land of milk and honey
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   May 25, 2005 - 12:54pm
If you're vacillating between the East Face and the Sunshine Pee-Wee Route (East Buttress), go for the East Butt. Better rock, more straightforward climbing, less 3rd class. Both routes are good: historic, good location, top out right on the summit, blah blah blah, but the East Buttress has better climbing. Concerend about the difference in grade? I would say the East Butt is actually the easier of the two. No sketchy sections at all.
Easily done car-to-car in a day - this beats the hell out of huffing bivy gear up to Iceberg Lake, sleeping with a mild altitude headache, waking up to a cold morning, then getting passed en-route by some guy(s) who slept in the back of the truck last night and blitzed up the trail/drainage that morning.
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TIM SHEA

Trad climber
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA
May 24, 2005 - 12:51pm
 
I did the E Face Car to Car, but we decieded to camp at Iceberg lake to do the E Butress. Super topo is excellent for approaching up the N fork of Lone Pine Creek. However I think I'll stick to the Car to Car mentality and go light next time. I liked the more 5th class nature of the Butress. I found the Butress full of wild shapes and amazing rock features. I also wondered if the Pee Wee will fall off someday. Many choices to go on this route but they all end up in the same place. Highly recomended.
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clustiere

Trad climber
running springs, ca
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   Oct 22, 2004 - 08:41pm
10 hrs and 21 min car to car
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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Oct 20, 2004 - 08:16am
 
I just got this beta from a supertopo user:

Your description of the approach made it impossible to get lost, and believe me, we ran into enough folks without your guide who had gotten lost.  It was great.  That approach was super fun and the route phenomenal.  And we didn't see anybody all day, until, of course, we got to the top
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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
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   Oct 3, 2004 - 10:58pm
Really liked this climb, Gary and I did it on Monday, September 27th, 2004. In general the SuperTopo was good... we found the following:

From our camp at Iceberg Lake,

we did the classic P1, the ST "alt start", if you do this, make sure to take P2 around the Second Tower to the right... continuing on the belay ledge. We went higher on the face above the ledge and pushed it around right, but it was unnecessarily more difficult.

On P5 we ran the 60m (200') rope ALL THE WAY OUT. The ST has 160' which is short. Also on P6, same deal, we pretty much ran the rope all the way out, 200'. On both of P5 and P6 we kept to the ST description of the route... don't know where the disagreement in length comes from.

On P9 I'd recommend avoiding the chimney/stem, we went out around to the left and found the huge "talus field" area. Above this pitch the route is indistinct. There are a number of ways to summit, some of them are really difficult, some are trivial, as indicated. While we made good time, I was tired and impatient at this point and ended up adding a pitch having wandered around too much looking for "the" easy way off.

The descent beta was right on. HOWEVER, the scramble off the summit down to the notch is loose and really dicey. BE CAREFUL! We found some patches of ice which would have been unhappily discovered in the dark... lucky for us it was mid-afternoon. Then you have to descend the loose Mountaineer's Route, yuch...

A general note: the climb was in the shade most of the way, and a little cool because of it. You do get glorious moments in the sun, but I wore my parka shell the whole time.

The rack: 2 set of Stoppers, 1 set of cams from small to 3", plus #10 and #11 BD hexes, and many slings.
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Tuca

Trad climber
Ventura, CA
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   Aug 30, 2004 - 10:46am
Did this route Aug 29, 2004. Simul climbed most of the pitches and managed a time of 3:30 to the top. Good fun!

Weather was perfect + full moon on Saturday while camping at Iceberg Lake.

No need for snow gear, everything has melted.

Ivan
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Eric Kendle

Trad climber
Phoenix
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   Sep 3, 2003 - 06:29pm
Did this route in a party of three, Labour Day weekend 2003, in 15 hours door to door. Difficult to find the trail back in the dark. The route has great climbing and excellent position. Most every pitch had great moves and great rock. For the 5.7 climber there may be some minor run out sections and hard to find pro. Climbing is fairly easy though. The summit is excellent. On the decent do not miss the carins and take the wrong gully this could be fatal. For gear we took minimal 1 set BD to number 3, extra .5,.75,1.0,2.0 and 1 set stoppers. We used one rope and simo climbed with one man in the middle. You can find good belay spots the entire route. I highly reccomend the route, best to do it in 2 days bivy at the base. It is brutal to do in a day. There is water on the way and at the base of the climb. Enjoy!
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johnkitt

Trad climber
San Diego, Ca
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   Jun 16, 2003 - 11:11am
My partner and I did this route over the past weekend (6-14-03).

Had a blast. The route was fun and laid back. Most of the moves were more like 4th class but there were the occaisional 5.7 'crux' sections on the rock.

The weather was perfect. There's some snow still on the approach, but not too much. Not even enough to warrant bringing snow gear (except maybe gaiters).
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Mt. Whitney - East Buttress 5.7 - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
The route as seen from Iceberg Lake.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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