Trip Report
East Ridge of Mt. Humphreys
Sunday August 14, 2011 9:52pm
East Ridge of Mt. Humphreys
Class III, 5.4

Still recovering from the previous night's bender and expecting a full day in the mountains, I hit the sack nice and early at my Bishop home. My good friend and Bishop born Chris Bradury was at my place at 5:30 for coffee and we met the rest of our crew at the Buttermilk Road at 6:00am. Mammoth's Bryan Robinette provided some solid rock climbing experience and longtime Sierra peak bagger Dan Shoshone was eager to summit Humphreys after getting turned shut down without a rope on his last attempt.

40 minutes of bumpy, rocky 4WD roads got us to the trailhead at 9,200 feet and we were trailbound at 7:00am. A well marked trail only lasted a 1/2 mile or so until we cut cross country through amazing wildflowers and thick sagebrush towards a obvious rise. From that rise, we cut right and up into some steep, pumice pinion forest that led us to a gradually rising bench that took us to the obvious saddle between Mt. Humphreys East Ridge and Peaklet (peak 12,241).

Clear view of the Lower Ridge, headed towards the saddle between Peak ...
Clear view of the Lower Ridge, headed towards the saddle between Peak 12,241 (out of view on the right). The lower ridge was amazing and exposed 4th class scrambling to the obvious 13,000 foot gendarme
Credit: jlecorps

It took us 2 hours at a good pace to gain the East Ridge saddle at 11,700 feet. The ridge scrambling was phenomenal with good exposure on clean rock. It would have been easy to bypass most of the exposed sections but...what's the fun in that. Staying on the ridge offered up some thrilling moments in a spectacular setting.

Lower ridge scrambling
Lower ridge scrambling
Credit: jlecorps

More lower ridge scrambling
More lower ridge scrambling
Credit: jlecorps

One of the best sections on the lower ridge went up some steep 4th class cracks and onto a 2 foot wide sidewalk with a massive drop on each side. While this section could easily be done by walking below the ridge on the right side and holding on to the top with both hands, we heckled each other to walk the whole thing.

Steep 4th class crack leading to "the sidewalk"
Steep 4th class crack leading to "the sidewalk"
Credit: jlecorps

The sidewalk
The sidewalk
Credit: jlecorps

The sidewalk
The sidewalk
Credit: jlecorps

The scrambling stayed fun and exposed leading to the obvious 13,000 gendarme blocking forward progress on the ridge.

The 13,000 foot gendarme on the left with Mt. Humphreys summit on the ...
The 13,000 foot gendarme on the left with Mt. Humphreys summit on the right.
Credit: jlecorps

Peak 13,112, kindergarden chute and the notorious Checkered Demon Coul...
Peak 13,112, kindergarden chute and the notorious Checkered Demon Couloir. Gonna get me those one day on my board!
Credit: jlecorps

We bypassed the massive gendarme by skirting left across some dirty ledges and then traversing back right on clean cracks and down into a gully on the backside of the gendarme. While still 4th class, we set up a rappel to get down into the gully to avoid a sandy downclimb. From the gully, we scrambled up fun slabs 200 feet back up to the ridge.

Traversing around the gendarme
Traversing around the gendarme
Credit: jlecorps

Making our way around the 13,000 foot gendarme
Making our way around the 13,000 foot gendarme
Credit: jlecorps

Still traversing around the gendarme, moments before setting a rappel ...
Still traversing around the gendarme, moments before setting a rappel into the gully below
Credit: jlecorps

The next flat section of ridge turned out to be the most airy with several vertical downclimbs and no fall zones as well as one 20 foot fixed rap line. One precaurious engine size block tettered right on the ridge with no way around but to walk on it. This final section of ridge line got us to the final headwall as well as our eventual descent route down the Southeast gully. This section ended up beeing a little too spicy for our non rock climber member Chris. He decided to start the descent route without toping out some 900 feet short of the summit. Ironically, he turned around at a spot named "Married Men Point" even though he was the only non married person in this party. No pressure on the spot of course, but I look forward to years of harrasment and teasing for his decision to turn around.

The final section of the lower ridge was the most airy, with several s...
The final section of the lower ridge was the most airy, with several steep down climbs and no fall zones.
Credit: jlecorps

This big rock was balancing on the ridge, with massive dropoff on each...
This big rock was balancing on the ridge, with massive dropoff on each side, blocking the way with no other way around. It had a easy 3-4 inches of play once you stood on it.
Credit: jlecorps

Final ridge scrambling before the headwall
Final ridge scrambling before the headwall
Credit: jlecorps

Chris, fear in his eyes! Spotting his escape route.
Chris, fear in his eyes! Spotting his escape route.
Credit: jlecorps

Next step was the impressive headwall jutting out from the Southeast gully. We managed to hug the arete on this headwall through steep 4th class blocks.

The headwall.  We stayed on the right arete almost to the top of the f...
The headwall. We stayed on the right arete almost to the top of the frame before roping up for a short pitch of 5.4-5.5 climbing to the top.
Credit: jlecorps

We roped up for a short vertical layback crack. There were several other options to get over this section, all involved steep rock and good cracks.

Rock climbing crux of the route
Rock climbing crux of the route
Credit: jlecorps

We simulclimbed the next 200 feet through dirty and loose ledges careful not to send some of the loose rocks down.

Simulclimbing on the headwall.  This was really the only non enjoyable...
Simulclimbing on the headwall. This was really the only non enjoyable section. Real loose and dirty. I'll be looking for a way around this section next time
Credit: jlecorps

From the top of the headwall, it was just a little more scrambling going up and then down and then back up to the final summit pitch. And what a treat to finish this great climb. 5th class beautiful, clean rock, with big holds and positive stances right to a summit block big enough for our remaining 3.

Final pitch to the summit on excellent rock.
Final pitch to the summit on excellent rock.
Credit: jlecorps

Final pitch, summit above
Final pitch, summit above
Credit: jlecorps

Summit shot!  Dan is also there behind my massive head
Summit shot! Dan is also there behind my massive head
Credit: jlecorps

What a day in the Sierra, not a breath of wind just a few feet short of 14,000'. We slapped high fives, noted the time 2:30pm (7.5 hours from car) snapped a few photos, signed the registry, rehydrated, had some snacks and started our long descent back to our car.

Looking west towards Bear Creek Spire and...???
Looking west towards Bear Creek Spire and...???
Credit: jlecorps

Looking south at Peak 13,112, Mt Emerson, Bishop pass and Mt Goode
Looking south at Peak 13,112, Mt Emerson, Bishop pass and Mt Goode
Credit: jlecorps


Looking southwest towards Piute Pass
Looking southwest towards Piute Pass
Credit: jlecorps

Getting off the headwall was pretty tricky. After some steep 4th class downclimbing we finally found a rap station near the section we had climbed. Glad to not have to downclimb those dirty loose ledges.

We got a little turned around looking for a rap station and had to neg...
We got a little turned around looking for a rap station and had to negotiate some tricky sections
Credit: jlecorps

Clean but steep downclimbing to the rap station
Clean but steep downclimbing to the rap station
Credit: jlecorps

Last move before rap station
Last move before rap station
Credit: jlecorps

From the bottom of the rap station it was a forward but long descent through the rotten steep sun cupped snow of the Southeast gully. Never got steep enough to need a axe but we definately got moving while glissading.

Descending into the southeast gully towards Checkered Demon and Kinder...
Descending into the southeast gully towards Checkered Demon and Kindergarden chute
Credit: jlecorps

We found our friend Chris happily sunbaking on the rock in the drainage and made our long way back to our truck for a most unenjoyable 8 mile, 40 minute bumpy ride to our waiting wives and lives..
The Humphreys headwall with our descent gully on the right
The Humphreys headwall with our descent gully on the right
Credit: jlecorps

This climb had everything a Sierra Mountaineer could want, clean rock, exposed ridges in a spectacular setting. This peak has been a goal of mine since my first drive through the Owens Valley and I couldn't have done it with a better group under any better conditions. I'll remember this climb everytime I look west from my home in Bishop, hopefully cold brew in hand...

Bryan shot a little video that came out pretty cool. Check out the delicate sidewalk at 1:00! check it here
http://www.vimeo.com/27747807


Mt Humphreys 13,986 feet, East Ridge. Trailhead @ 9,200feet.  Ascent i...
Mt Humphreys 13,986 feet, East Ridge. Trailhead @ 9,200feet. Ascent in red, descent in yellow
Credit: jlecorps


  Trip Report Views: 6,578
jlecorps
About the Author
Julien Lecorps is a climber from Bishop, CA.

Comments
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rhyang

climber
SJC
  Aug 14, 2011 - 10:22pm PT
Cool, this has been on my list of stuff to do for a while !
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Aug 15, 2011 - 02:03pm PT
Thanks for the great TR and pictures. It was a wonderful way to start my day.

John
reddirt

climber
PNW
  Aug 15, 2011 - 02:14pm PT
Thanks a bunch! Was there this April & wondering how it'd be after things melted out...
Karen

Trad climber
So Cal urban sprawl Hell
  Aug 15, 2011 - 03:26pm PT
What a cool climb and great pics! Thanks for posting.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
  Aug 15, 2011 - 03:37pm PT
Great TR, thanks for sharing it. Nothing like a day in the Sierra.
Zander

climber
  Aug 15, 2011 - 04:13pm PT
Cool TR. Thanks.
I tried this the first year i was climbing. 5.4, how hard can it be? Maybe the question should have been- how long can it be? The second try a year or two later I got hammered by altitude. Even though it was only 1:00 we turned back at the notch. Someday I'll go back again.
Climb on!
Z
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Aug 15, 2011 - 04:14pm PT
Great pics! Thanks!
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
  Aug 15, 2011 - 04:21pm PT
Great!
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
  Aug 15, 2011 - 11:41pm PT
Wow! Lots of snow back there for mid August.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Aug 15, 2011 - 11:44pm PT
Beautiful Beautiful PIX!!

What a cool looking thing.

I hope you aren't struck dead for posting climbing content on a POLI-SITE!!
rottingjohnny

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
  Aug 16, 2011 - 12:32am PT
Hail to the Shoshone..! RJ
Chinchen

climber
Way out there....
  Aug 16, 2011 - 12:35am PT
LIKE!
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
  Aug 16, 2011 - 12:57am PT
Really great report. this one looks like a real classic.
Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Aug 16, 2011 - 08:53am PT
Great TR, thanks!
jfailing

Trad climber
PDX, North Slope, The Open Road
  Aug 16, 2011 - 09:49am PT
Awesome TR - looks like a most excellent climb!
neversummer

climber
30 mins. from suicide USA
  Aug 16, 2011 - 10:06am PT
Nice.
powderdan

Social climber
mammoth lakes
  Aug 16, 2011 - 04:30pm PT
awesome report
Conejo

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
  Aug 21, 2011 - 12:56pm PT
Excellent TR on an excellent peak. Congratulations! What sort of rack is used on the East Ridge of Humphreys?
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Aug 21, 2011 - 03:55pm PT
Very, very nice trip report and pics! Looks like you had an outstanding outing.
greenerimpact

Trad climber
Los Angeles
  Aug 24, 2011 - 04:35pm PT
That looks like a lot of fun, with some pretty hairy exposure for being unroped. Thanks for sharing this with the community.

Cheers
Michael
Clarke Brogger

Mountain climber
Laguna Beach, Ca
  Aug 30, 2011 - 11:56pm PT
Thanks for this!!! Am considering this for the end of September. is tere any camping closer to the start of the climb? Hows the snw and what would the temps be like at that time?

thanks again, awesome pics.
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Aug 31, 2011 - 05:47pm PT
Very nice, thanks!
Chateau Rico

Sport climber
Davis, CA
  Aug 31, 2011 - 07:04pm PT
Great TR, and a great climb done in perfect style. I did that climb 20 years ago and I am gratified that the seemingly loose block is still there! I didn't have the nerve to cat walk that ridge piece, so good work!

To answer Clarke's question, there is gorgeous camping at a little tarn right at the base of the slope to the very first saddle. I love that spot!!
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Aug 31, 2013 - 09:05pm PT
Bump a good tr when u see one!
lars johansen

Trad climber
West Marin, CA
  Aug 31, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
Lots of good photos, tfpu.

lars
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 31, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
Bumps
10b4me

climber
  Aug 31, 2013 - 10:41pm PT
I've always wanted to do that, but the road was a deterrent
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Sep 1, 2013 - 12:10am PT
Thats how ive always felt too 10b4me. Yeah how much longer can one expect to slog with low clearance?
Rankin

Social climber
Greensboro, North Carolina
  Sep 1, 2013 - 10:02am PT
One of my favorite climbs / peaks in the Sierra. I soloed it in 2008, and had the most horrific heart burn in my life up there. Turns out that I had ulcers (a bad marriage will do that) that were causing the pain, but at the time I wasn't sure if I was having a heart attack or what. I glissaded as much as possible on the way down, completely desperate to get back down, and tore the back side of my shorts, exposing my bear ass a bit for the hike out. Good times.
FRUMY

Trad climber
Bishop,CA
  Sep 1, 2013 - 11:51am PT
TFPU
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
  Sep 1, 2013 - 12:05pm PT
On my list.

TFPU.
Nohea

Trad climber
Living Outside the Statist Quo
  Sep 1, 2013 - 01:23pm PT
Way to get outdoors!

Enjoyable read and fotos, thanks
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 1, 2013 - 04:17pm PT
Looks like fun!!!!!
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
  Sep 1, 2013 - 04:25pm PT
I took a rental car up to nearly 9,000 feet if I recall correctly. even from 9,000 feet, it was a full day car-to-car
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