Then I forgot about it. Until a month ago.
I have a longer write up with pics of both summer and winter here:
A sweet last minute addition to my pack was my daughter's kid's camp pillow. No tent neccessary, it's California right? Temps were in the high 30's at night for a few hours, and a perfect 70 all day.
Here's an approximate crude route drawn in the peak of the North Buttress route. This route was first climbed in 1976 by Bob Harrington and Vern Clevenger. A second route to the left called Silver cloud was put up in 1994. and I read in the summit register of a few other first ascents, one by Peter Croft last year to right of this line somewhere 5.9.
Tim and I left Tahoe 8-16 at 6am, arrived at the Big Pine Trailhead and hiked 5 hours to the Royce Lakes. What an unreal, varied, and ultimately beautiful hike up there. We left camp around 7:30am and started climbing an hour later. I think we spent about 7 hours on the climb, who knows how long on the ultimate scenic tour descent, and then 3 hours getting down 4200' from our Royce Lakes camp to the car. The trailhead is 7400' and the peak a little over 13k. Moynier's Guidebook says 900' for the climb.
Tim and I swapped leads and simulclimbed the ridge above the buttress. He led the 2 pitches with the 10a and 10b moments. They were easy to protect and short. This whole climb follows cracks that protect well, but there is a lot of loose large rock to avoid. Not loose like in slippery sand, but more just blocks that vibrate and will eventually come off.
After Tim combined pitches 2 & 3 (be careful on these, this is the vibrating rock area I'm talking about)...I led the famous 5.8/9 parallel cracks shown in Moynier's Guidebook. This is the dihederal pitch you can make out from anywhere.
I belayed in this alcove above the 4th pitch (from Moynier Fiddler's High Sierra Climbing Guide). This was our 3rd pitch.
We are loving it!
Tim leads out of the cave and steps right with an exciting 5.9 move to gain a sweet hand crack, and combines the 2 short Moynier Topo pitches to reach the base of the crux 10b pitch. This was really excellent climbing, from the dihedral to the summit. Really, the entire climb was fantastic...the best I've done. Just with some loose boulders around you, most of which can be climbed around without touching. A few however down lower are right in the line.
in the left pic, is the second half of the combined pitches above the dihedral, with a really clean and fun 5.8 crack. On the right, Tim brings me up and gets psyched for the 10b part. The first overhanging part is actually 5.9+. The whole pitch is short and easy to protect. The 10b part is a short lieback, and Tim flew up the whole thing no problem.
Tim is at the 10b spot on the right pic
Above the crux pitch is a short 5.8 wide spot
I stayed on lead for another micro short pitch under the 5.7 roof. I was well prepared for this. A friend took me up OZ-Gram Traverse and Fairest of All a few weeks ago (I didn't do the leading). These had very long roof traverses at higher difficulty. This Merriam roof was only about 40'. Still, it was really fun. A big drop below, finger sized crack in the corner of the roof, and nice dishes for feet. Speaking of Fairview Dome's Fairest of All climb,(I have pics on my messageboard), a friend Logan from Tuolumne SAR reportedly replaced the old rusty bolts.
Then you get this view of the summit. Whoa.... Moynier says 3rd class ridge hopping for a few hundred feet to the summit. I just did Moon goddess and Sun Ribbon 2 weeks ago... this looks much harder. A supertopo person said low 5th class and a long way (He may have gone on the right of the ridge). We experimented with a traverse out left out of view and found the Moynier way. You definately don't believe it'll work until you just try going around the corner to the left. I can't remember where I read this, but someone said you stay on a narrow ridge to the summit. Ummmm, I didn't try that, but look at that ridge! It's a blank and vertical spire. Moynier's topo does show a line on the left side of the ridge, but you just don't expect it to be this dramatic when you get there. A fantastic finish to an amazing climb!
Tim on the west summit. Gemeni Peak is the one on the right with some snow.
Looking back north at Royce Peak's south slopes. Bear Creek Spire and Mt. Dade to the right in the background.
Anyone know which crack system is the new 5.9 croft route he mentioned in the summit register?
Coming down off the notch between Merriam and Royce Peaks is easy class 2/3.
Re-joining the trail after a nice stroll through paradise (the terrain below Co Co La Pass. Poished granite slab sidewalks all connected together with little streams, tiny meadows, wild flowers, and big granite peaks surrounding you. The High Sierra is incredible, and this might be one of the most incredible spots within it.
Are you seeing what I'm seeing?
Here, have some more. A few huge mountains made up of both white AND black granite slices, with house sized boulders strewn about the base. This spot is at lower Pine Creek Lake about an 2 hours from the car.