Trip Report
East Face Clyde Minaret
Monday December 19, 2016 2:14pm
California suffers from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to geography and nowhere is this shameless self-indulgence in beauty more clearly demonstrated than in the Sierra Nevada. Really, people, if you had a generous bone in your collective body you would send a mountain or two, perhaps an alpine lake, to Kansas. In the early eighties my good friend and long suffering climbing partner John Ferguson and I decided on an extended visit to the Range of Light before some radical “Occupy US 395” group demanded some elevational redistribution of assets to the High Plains states. After an initial flirtation with success on Matterhorn Peak, we headed down to Mammoth for a sojourn into the Minarets. The Minarets have always been one of my favorite places in the Sierras for their striking beauty and unusual geology. You just gotta love a piece of the supra-batholithic volcanic pile entombed as a giant roof pendant, I know I do. John and I humped our loads up to Minaret Lake and set up camp. I am just not sure there can be a more beautiful place to camp for a few days.
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An August day, a cloudless sky, a pointy peak, priceless.
An August day, a cloudless sky, a pointy peak, priceless.
Credit: Nick Danger
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The lake of our alpine dreams.
The lake of our alpine dreams.
Credit: Nick Danger
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A fine ending to a glorious day.
A fine ending to a glorious day.
Credit: Nick Danger
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Toto, this is Definitely Not Kansas.
Toto, this is Definitely Not Kansas.
Credit: Nick Danger
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Our alpine abode, be it ever so humble.
Our alpine abode, be it ever so humble.
Credit: Nick Danger
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On the day of days, another cloudless beauty, we got a not-so-alpine start and headed towards the east face of Clyde Minaret. On the approach we discussed, as we usually do, the important quandaries in life; what’s cooler, the Spitfire or the P-51.
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Approaching the important questions in life.
Approaching the important questions in life.
Credit: Nick Danger
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The east face of Clyde Minaret.
The east face of Clyde Minaret.
Credit: Nick Danger
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As I recall the guidebook indicates the standard east face route goes up some 5.7 ledges just around the left side of the face, joining the actual east face a bit higher up. We were attracted to some 5.6 to 5.7-ish stuff that led to some very nice dihedrals just left of a very prominent dihedral labeled “the large tower” on the supertopo topo (is that like Major Major in Catch-22?) as seen here: http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Direct-SE-Face-of-Clyde-Minaret-IV-5-9/t11498n.html.
Not sure why this is not the standard start as we encountered outstanding climbing with great pro. The angular fractures and finely crystalline nature of this meta-rhyolite is unlike anything we had previously climbed on anywhere in California.
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Looking up at the dihedrals we climbed on the lower part of the east f...
Looking up at the dihedrals we climbed on the lower part of the east face. The largest dihedral is the “large tower”.
Credit: Nick Danger
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Yer loyal scribe leading up the dihedral; bomber placements, reasonabl...
Yer loyal scribe leading up the dihedral; bomber placements, reasonable lieback potential, and bomber jams. What’s not to like?
Credit: Nick Danger
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One of the really nice things about the east face of Clyde Minaret is the wonderful ledges for belays at the end of practically every pitch. Although some of the lower ledges contained a certain amount of debris from rockfall, many of them higher up were wonderfully clean. The moderate difficulty (mostly 5.7 – 5.8 climbing), bomber pro, and killer belay stances made for a stupidly entertaining climb in a stupendous setting. This allowed us to feel like real alpine heroes at practically no psychological cost at all. Honestly, this has got to be what Heaven is like.
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John’s turn to have some fun.
John’s turn to have some fun.
Credit: Nick Danger
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John on the pointy end of the two ropes.
John on the pointy end of the two ropes.
Credit: Nick Danger
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Me cleaning a pitch and bringing the day’s provisions.
Me cleaning a pitch and bringing the day’s provisions.
Credit: Nick Danger
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My turn for some phun.
My turn for some phun.
Credit: Nick Danger
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As we got to the upper part of the face we entered a huge dihedral that slightly overhung at the crux. The belay arrived at a point about halfway through this steeper dihedral and gave us our only crowded and inconvenient belay stance on the whole climb. On the other hand, it also allowed both John and I to enjoy a lead in this more challenging part of the route.
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John leading in the steeper dihedral.
John leading in the steeper dihedral.
Credit: Nick Danger
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I was unsuccessful in my attempts to avoid enjoying this lead.
I was unsuccessful in my attempts to avoid enjoying this lead.
Credit: Nick Danger
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Topping out near the notch at the top of the east face route.
Topping out near the notch at the top of the east face route.
Credit: Nick Danger
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This route tops out at a notch in the ridge above the big dihedral, from which it is a 4th class scramble to the summit of Clyde Minaret. We arrived at the notch sometime in the early to mid-afternoon. The sky was still cloudless, with nary a breeze, and we celebrated with snacks and water before heading to the summit. We lingered on the summit despite the heinous conditions, pounded as we were by the relentless sunshine and hammered by the calm air.
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Scrambling up the 4th class ridge towards the summit.
Scrambling up the 4th class ridge towards the summit.
Credit: Nick Danger
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John bravely enduring the vicious summit conditions.
John bravely enduring the vicious summit conditions.
Credit: Nick Danger
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For us the real challenges were about to begin, and I am not even joking here. The weather had been so beautiful, the climbing so sublime, that we were lulled into complacency about the descent. Getting off the summit of Clyde Minaret can be “interesting”. The day was moving deeper into the afternoon and we moved into the shadows for the descent. There are so many scrambling options getting off the summit and down the north side that it can be fairly easy to choose unwisely. Although I had climbed this route once before with my friend Peter Thurston from Reno, I still made a few false starts early in the descent. In places the rock was wet, the ledges somewhat mossy, and the odd rappel anchor rusty and/or manky, completely different than anything on the east face. John had the good sense to be wearing long sleeve polypro, but I in my cotton shorts and tee was shivering before we got all the way down and back into the sun. This was by no means the first time my youthful exuberance was weighed in the balance and found wanting in comparison of John’s more thoughtful approach to all things alpine – we’re kind of like the yin & yang of common sense. In the fullness of time we returned to our lovely camping spot, enjoyed a wonderful meal and many pots of tea. Honestly, I am not sure I have ever enjoyed a day in the mountains more than this one.

  Trip Report Views: 3,384
Nick Danger
About the Author
Nick Danger is a ice climber from Arvada, CO.

Comments
jeff constine

Trad climber
Ao Namao
  Dec 19, 2016 - 05:16pm PT
25+ years ago ^^^^?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Dec 19, 2016 - 08:32pm PT
Sweet....an embarrassment of riches indeed!
Darwin

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Dec 19, 2016 - 08:41pm PT
I thought that was great and totally THANK YOU, but:


important quandaries in life; what’s cooler, the Spitfire or the P-51.

vs

my youthful exuberance

I call BS, you're 60+ if you're a day! OK, you could be totally nerdy.


i-b-goB

Big Wall climber
Nutty
  Dec 19, 2016 - 09:11pm PT
Bump for Clyde!
mcreel

climber
Barcelona
  Dec 19, 2016 - 11:00pm PT
Thanks!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 20, 2016 - 03:00am PT
Another great adventure,
Thanks!
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Dec 20, 2016 - 06:03am PT
Descent route?
Tom Patterson

Trad climber
Seattle
  Dec 20, 2016 - 06:30am PT
Nice! Love me some Minarets!

Thanks for the TR.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Dec 20, 2016 - 06:41am PT
Bump for good climbing content.TFPU
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Dec 20, 2016 - 08:44am PT
We lingered on the summit despite the heinous conditions, pounded as we were by the relentless sunshine and hammered by the calm air.

Fantastic image.


Two thumbs up for fantastic scenery, a great line, purple tights and thick tubular webbing. Great trip report.



-Scott
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Dec 20, 2016 - 12:55pm PT
Thanks, all, for the kind remarks. Yes, it was over 20 years ago, yes, I am a total nerd, and yes, I was much more exuberantly youthful 20 years ago.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
  Dec 20, 2016 - 02:49pm PT
Spitfire!
labrat

Trad climber
Erik O. Auburn, CA
  Dec 20, 2016 - 03:08pm PT
Thanks for posting up!

Neither.....

F4U-1A Corsair!!!
Nick Danger

Ice climber
Arvada, CO
Author's Reply  Dec 21, 2016 - 11:24am PT
Could not resist a thumbs up for Labrat's suggestion of the F4U. Crazy-great airplane, and the Marines got to use it first (which hardly ever happens).
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
  Dec 21, 2016 - 11:39am PT
Beautiful spot. California is embarrassed with wild riches and I'm glad that we can easily access them and explore them without crowds.
pathfinder

Trad climber
Joshua Tree, CA
  Jan 19, 2017 - 11:32am PT
Also on Clyde but in the early '90s
Polar Bear

Mountain climber
Moraga, California
  Jan 19, 2017 - 09:00pm PT
Nice report and great photos!
The Sierra (not sierras) is a single mountain range. Sierra Nevada is Spanish for "snowy range". The California Miwok named it "Kayopha - the sky and the peaks that touch it". John Muir called it the "Range of Light". Steve Thaw, Moraga, California
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