East Face 5.7
Trip ReportA BIG DAY ON MT WHITNEY
A Big Day on Mt Whitney – July 8th 2008
This is a re-post from the fourm.
This is my first TR on the TACOstand. here we go
Last summer was an interesting one for me. I unfortunately was not able to get as much climbing in as I would have liked, but the routes that I did get on were all stellar. I had been doing my usual bouldering circuits and solo top-rope stuff around my home in Bear Valley, made it to Yosemite Valley for maybe 10 days total and really tried to push myself. Feeling solid on a few 5.9 cracks in the valley and some other climbing here and there in and around Tahoe, a little bouldering around the hot springs on the east side, but that’s about it.
Wanting to get up into the High Sierra and do some alpine rock routes, and hearing about a supposed trip to Whitney my brother and his friends were going on, got me super excited to go with them, but had to find a partner. The proposed mission was very ambitious, downright intimidating if you ask me, and when I first heard the idea I was very hesitant. “Car-to-car, well more like house-to-house” is what got me. The plan was to leave Tahoe City (TC) around 6pm and drive straight to Whitney Portal, crash around midnight for a nice “nap” then up at 3am to get out EARLY! Fly up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek (NFLPC) and simul-climb both routes, fly back down NFLPC and drive back to TC; all in about 34 hours or so.
The end of the week was coming up and Ryan called me to tell me that Brenden was out and if I wanted to team up with Dostie and go on the mission. Me and Dostie have never met before and I have not done too much simul-climbing, let alone doing the entire routes like that, but after a little more chatting and self-ego boosting conversation I said screw it lets GO FOR IT! I packed my stuff in a few hours and drove up to TC and we split the next day.
Good drive down to Lone Pine, dinner/breakfast from T’s in Incline Village was always filling. We got to the portal at about 11:45pm and basically threw down our bags and crashed out for a few hours. 3am came really quick and Dostie was super psyked to get out early so we were less likely to epic in the dark coming down. Whitney portal is a very interesting place at 3am opposed to other trailheads at that time of day. PEOPLE EVERYWHERE! Well headtorches at least but wow there were a lot of people moving around and hiking already.
We took the short-cut trail that leads straight out the portal and up the steep slope below the Whitney Trail. It was dark and I had never been here before so we all were just following Dostie, he had done the approach a few times already. For the 100 yards we were on the Whitney Trail we must have passed 10 people; at 4:15am! People with small daypacks or nothing, with shorts and tank-tops, headed for fourteen and a half thousand feet; it was an interesting sight to say the least.
On to NFLPC which is a fatty trail now and pretty easy to follow. Escherbacher Ledges were not too bad in the dark, as we were making pretty good time up the approach. I think twilight started as we were crossing the slabs above Lower Boyscout lake, and we were just below the final steep bit before Iceberg as the alpenglow hit the east faces of the Whitney massif. WOW what a sight, it was amazing. Great spot to scope the East Face route from here, where the Fresh Air Traverse goes into the Grand Staircase.
Elan at base of the climbs
We cached some gear near Iceberg lake and topped off our water for the climb and headed to the base of the routes. Elan and Ryan started on EB and Dostie and I started on EF. I got the first lead; our plan was to get to somewhere near the fresh air traverse and belay through that. Tower Traverse was mellow, cruised up the wasboards and up a steep bit of 5.7 on the aręte, and Ryan yelled over from the EB route and snapped a photo of me, pretty cool to be right there by eachother on such an awesome bit of granite.
Me on East Face
Next, I climbed around the aręte and down to the alcove before the FAT. Dostie took the lead and we moved up the Grand staircase nicely, sometimes without any pro between us because it was so mellow. I had a little struggle getting out the top of the staircase but Dostie was standing on talus so it was all good. We met Ryan and Elan on the talus field just below the summit and got to the top together. Great timing 2.5 hours for the route and it was only 9:30am!
Elan on East Buttress
Looking down the Grand Staircase
Dostie on the talus field below the summit
Me and Dostie gaining the summit plateau
We sat and ate our lunches an a small ledge just below the summit talus, enjoying the views and peacefulness of it all even though you could hear the few people on the summit. Some guy stuck his head over the edge where we were sitting as was like “whoa! Where did you guys come from!?!” We replied we had just climbed up the steep east face from Iceberg Lake, and were going back down for a second lap. After we told these people this they didn’t say much else, not sure if they just weren’t sure what we meant or what. A couple of photos and quickly sign the register, then romp down the mountaineers route back to the base of the climbs.
Traversing back to the start
Flip flop this time, and I think it was about 11am or so when we started off again. Dostie took pitch one, and we were moving so fast I don’t remember a lot of detail except for the 5.7 face protected by pins, I got a little sketched but worked through the moves and back to cruising up to the nice comfy belay ledge Dostie found just below the “Peewee”. Feeling a bit fatigued at this point I asked Dostie if he didn’t mind leading the final pitch, as I was a bit uncertain of the route-finding on the next bit. Fun climbing past the peewee and easy wandering to the left after that to the talus field, where we once again met Elan and Ryan and summited at around 2pm for the second time.
STOKED to be done with the technical bit so early, all down hill from here! Signed the register again and headed down to Iceberg lake to retrieve our gear. After all we had done so far we were feeling pretty good still when we started heading down the NFLPC. It was cool to see all the stuff we walked by in the dark earlier, what a cool area. By the time we got back down the ledges, all four of us were hurting pretty bad from all the sustained down hill walking on talus and trail. We got back to the car around 7pm and were stoked to have finished with lots of light left.
What a great mission. We got to climb 2 ultra-classic routes and did so in fantastic style by going super light and fast. This was my first fourteener and that was just like the icing on the cake. I do however want to go back and pitch out the East Buttress route so I can enjoy each pitch and be a bit more relaxed about it, but with the permit system how it is now, that might never happen; good thing there is a whole ton of fantastic granite elsewhere in the range waiting to be climbed.
2 min after returning to the car……..SHOES OFF!!!!!
Jeff D, Eric McAuliffe; Elan P, Ryan Mc
Summary of climbs:
Mount Whitney 14,495’
East Face/East Buttress both III 5.7 1000’
Car to car in approx. 16:30 on July 8th, 2008
Writen by Eric McAuliffe: April 14th 2009
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