Trip Report
Mt. Carl Heller: Winter ascent of East Arete
Tuesday April 26, 2011 7:15pm
Carl Heller
Carl Heller
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Carl Heller may not be one of CA 14ers, SPS peaks, and is far-off the list of popular mountains that come to mind when one thinks about peaks of High Sierra. While far from trendy to most, it managed to form a select, quality base of admirers within CA climbing community. Mostly due to it's beautiful location, difficult approach, and spectacular East Arête-a route featured in "100 Best Climbs in the High Sierra."

Ready for George Creek (from L to R, Mark T, Maxim B, Kevin T, Vit...
Ready for George Creek (from L to R, Mark T, Maxim B, Kevin T, Vitaliy M, Shane R.)
Credit: Vitaliy M.

Even during summer months more than a few accomplished mountaineers have had to make multiple attempts to claim Carl Heller's elusive summit. Being adventurous bunch, our group decided to raise the bar and attempt the East Arête as a winter climb. Idea which turned out to be so adventurous that neither of us was able to come across a record of this route's ascent done during this particular season! To most this goal would seem crazy at best, but my confidence was high due to a great group of gentlemen that we gathered for this adventure. After climbing with each one of them in the past I was confident in our ability to work through adversity and make a good team for any ascent!

Looking down at East Arete from Carl Heller's summit
Looking down at East Arete from Carl Heller's summit
Credit: Vitaliy M.

The road to Carl Heller leads through George Creek. A 'trail' that RJ Secor described as "one of the classic bushwhacks of the High Sierra.” It involves staying on a phantom trail that leads through brush, thorns, rotten logs, for most part it disappears all together, possesses several unstable creek crossings, and large tree branches which force hikers into obscene positions when they attempt to pass through. It is said one has to wait a few years to come back to this nightmare trail-head due to the suffering it puts one through, but I was back after 10 months. In addition, this time there are four other guys to share the sufferings with- one of which (Kevin) is getting back to George creek for his sixth time (an achievement worthy of a Guinness record)!

First half of the approach turned out to be pure hell. We gained about 1,500ft in three hours-a pathetic pace. Navigating through George Creek was only harder during winter- bushwhack hell was also equipped with slushy snow we had to swim through. Some of us began to have big, but reasonable doubts about our ability to gain planned distance before the sunset-5000ft of elevation gain. However as we moved past the tree line, and further up the snow slopes- the snow became increasingly compact, post holing up to our knees (or waists at times) stopped, and our squad made a steady progress up the valley. In addition to the better progress, we enjoyed the view of Mt. Bernard and Trojan towering in the distance, with a beautiful sunny day brewing above. As we joked and talked about different climbing (and not) related subjects the day expired as we barely made it to our planned campsite at 11,500 ft! Carl Heller was towering above, furthermore our desires for an authentic winter climb prevailed- the Arête had more snow pack than in any photos we previously have seen!

Approaching the ridge
Approaching the ridge
Credit: Vitaliy M.

The night continued to progress towards the sunrise as the winds continued to pick up and furiously battered our mega-light. The winds didn't subside enough at dawn and postponed our departure time by a few hours, after which we decided to hike up to the base of our route and to make a decision regarding our plans on the spot. As we got closer to the arête the winds died down (they were blowing from the west on the other side and were blocked by the mountain), we had clear skies- it looked like we might get a window to summit.

Mark on lower portion of the ridge
Mark on lower portion of the ridge
Credit: Vitaliy M.

As we approached the route I was sure that we were going to cruise it in half a day’s length. First headwall is a first 4th class crux, and it appeared easier than terrain Mark and I simul-climbed three weeks earlier on Humphreys. Past that we are supposed to have mellow third class for a couple of pitches at least, I though! Oh boy was I wrong! As soon as we reached the top of the first headwall we encountered conditions that required caution and our full attention. Although climbing stayed relatively simple, the granite slab was covered with unstable layer of snow powder. Patches of it collapsed under our feet and dropped straight over the edge as we moved over the terrain. Due to the danger this snow cover brought up, we were not able to simul climb a single pitch on the route.

At first the pitches were easy, but lacked the pro to facilitate sufficient simul climbing. Than the slab steepened and snow cover thickened. Unfortunately snow did not gain much stability. Several sections on middle pitches were a bit creepy- between sufficient holds one had to traverse on sections of steep and unstable snow pack.

Climbing on the ridge
Climbing on the ridge
Credit: Vitaliy M.

As a climber would make a careful traversing step the snow would collapse and drop about a thousand feet off the edge of the cliff. Due to extra care and finesse required to avoid collapsing the slopes the pitches took a while to manage and it was obvious that sun will be down in just a few hours. With merely a few hours left and more than a few pitches to climb most of us realized that our choices are to either bivy on the route, or to find a line to rapel. Personally, I was against bailing from this ridge, it meant a lot to me, and I was willing to suffer through a cold night to attain our goal. In the past, I believed bivouacs are for insane people, but in the present I felt geared up for such occasion.

Kevin climbing with couloir towering above
Kevin climbing with couloir towering above
Credit: Vitaliy M.

With a few hours of daylight left the climbing became more sustained, fun, and memorable. We passed through few of genuine knife-edge sections, and a few thin nerve-racking traverses. As we let the sun slip out behind the horizon temperatures declined, and frustration built up. Every one of us critiqued or showed frustration with a speed or work of others. While trying to cheer up our three man group my humor was filled with sarcasm, and did not do much good. These are the moments when climbing becomes a chore- something one must finish before the day could end. Few of the last pitches before the crux ended up being the most exciting. On one of them I had to do an airy down-climb with a great hand-jam move, which was followed by a delicate traverse above big air, and another climb up a fun crack system. As Shane made it closer to the belay ledge he seemed excited about the quality of climbing on the previous pitch. By this point half shivering my excitement about the pitch is long gone, I do not feel any excitement about next pitch neither. As Mark went into the darkness for another lead I dreamed about it being a quick one, so I could move and get warm again. Shane and Mark had put on their parkas, even though by their look they still did not appear warm and cozy.

Climbing on the Arete
Climbing on the Arete
Credit: Vitaliy M.

We got through nine long pitches and were looking at the crux. Mark observed Kevin lead it several minutes ago, and it was obvious that security on this traverse is minimal, with several moves of 5th class coming up after. Watching Maxim follow Kevin's lead was not much encouraging- I have not seen him ask for so much tension, and slack on one pitch, EVER. The pitch started as highly insecure snow over slab traverse. Ice axe was generally useless and method that seemed to work the best was to use the snow as holds for your hands. On this particular pitch I climbed last on rope, and psychological crux was a down-climb after a brief climb up to remove a picket (which protected the leader and first follower). As soon as I took out the picket I was about 15 feet over the next piece of pro with a difficult task- a crumbling layer (12cm or so) of snow over steep hold-less slab I had to down-climb. I placed my right foot on a previously made step, and it collapsed under my weight. I quickly regain my balance and watch the snow fall into the void. I re-gain my concentration- this is a no fall zone. Somehow I make my way down the slope to Shane who belayed me from the rock, and we continue to climb up towards Mark. On the last part we encountered a rock crux of the route- perhaps a poorly protected 5.6, that felt a lot harder in mountaineering boots. Without peeling off Shane and I made it to the ledge and congratulated Mark on a fine lead.

Looking down the couloir
Looking down the couloir
Credit: Vitaliy M.

From here we quickly climbed up through the steep 400 foot couloir, which went at about 45 and steepened to about 60 degrees at the top. At the notch we finally saw our friends Kevin and Maxim. They picked out a rock ledge for a bivy, and without wasting much time we were setting up our own spot.


Photo By Maxim B., annotated by Mark T.

East side of the summit pinnacle had snow over 4th class ledges, and we picked a clean crack system on the west to reach the summit. We got over a mid 5th class crack, and traversed right and over to the summit rocks. As I scrambled over the last head-wall I saw Maxim, Kevin and Mark sitting on rocks across. A big smile grew on my face- we did it! I was on top of the world again. Not too far down south I saw a peak which for me was the top of the world exactly a year ago-Mt. Whitney. To the north I saw clouds rolling over another pinnacle of my progression back in May 2010-Mt. Williamson.

Part of the group on the summit. Shane, Mark and Vitaliy (L to R)
Part of the group on the summit. Shane, Mark and Vitaliy (L to R)
Credit: Vitaliy M.
March 13, 2011

For several minutes I was in paradise- worries about climbing down, getting back to camp, hiking out through George creek, and driving back to the Bay Area had left me. My reality was here and now- ideal. I was in the place I hoped to see for almost a year, sharing a moment with a group of strong partners who worked hard, sacrificed their comfort, and risked their safety to get here.

On the way back over the pass
On the way back over the pass
Credit: Vitaliy M.

We took SW face (cl 3-4) of Carl Heller down, and back over Vacation Pass to regain our camp. Gathered our things, hiked out, and drove 9 or so hours to the Bay Area. LONG DAY.


For a more detailed report, check out Mark's masterpiece.
http://www.summitpost.org/partying-like-a-g6-on-the-east-ridge-of-carl-heller-in-winter-style/705800

  Trip Report Views: 4,276
Vitaliy M.
About the Author
Vitaliy M. is annoying gym climber from San Francisco.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
Gene

climber
  Apr 26, 2011 - 07:46pm PT
Dang!!!!!!! Well done. TFPU.

What would you rate that for summer - I'm a wuss.

g
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 26, 2011 - 08:06pm PT
It is cl. 4 summer climb, but people still climb over and descent the other cl 4 route (SW face) on the back side, to avoid taking down this route (descending the other side involves dropping down, and having to gain over 1000ft to gain Vacation pass). We had to get on cl 5 terrain to avoid sketchy snow over slab terrain.

Very scenic place. Big horn sheep closures are done with as well, so area can be accessed all year long.
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 26, 2011 - 08:54pm PT
Sounds like a fun adventure, and nice pics! Hopefully smiles overcame the sarcasm and partner critiques

Edit: These days when the going gets tough, I don't have harsh words for my partners. But on a snowshoe camping trip long ago, my partners and I got so pissed at each other we didn't talk again for almost a year!

srathbun

Gym climber
Mount Shasta
  Apr 26, 2011 - 08:35pm PT
Who is Nutjob?
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
  Apr 26, 2011 - 08:40pm PT
totally awesome!

dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
  Apr 26, 2011 - 10:41pm PT
Wow, good job you guys. This is one of my favorite peaks in the Sierra, an overlooked dick wrenching mega classic. If you want to just have fun some day, do it in summer!
We went over Carillon Col.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Apr 26, 2011 - 11:28pm PT
Wow, gripping!

Amazing to see you guys standing right on top of crunchy crust before and after, only to be forced to contend on the route with loose, unconsolidated snow not even close to bonded to those slabs. Can you say t-i-p-t-o-e? I'd get cranky too.

Sounds like in your experience the East Ridge once again earned its reputation of being not 3rd class but 5.8.

For the last few years I'm getting drawn increasingly to this route. It's even made me consider another bout with George Creek -- and I've had a mere 40 years to dull the pain. I have a photo somewhere of Galen Rowell stopped in his tracks mid-creek-crossing with his ski tips caught in the overhead brush. We skied bulletproof crust down the south face of Williamson. Kim Schmitz skiing brilliantly with one pole and his other arm in a cast.

But the current plan is to ski over Shepherd (I despise the first half of that approach too -- but at least it's a trail), across the Bighorn Plateau, then drop in to the route over Vacation Pass.

Thanks for the inspiration! Best photos ever of the route too.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 27, 2011 - 12:23am PT
Nutjob, we weren't really fighting about anything, just irritated because all knew we will have to sleep up there.

Doug, this is a beautiful route, especially the upper part. The climbing is not so much difficult as dangerous.VERY fun at some places (especially if you climb on the left side on the upper parts). It is bellow 5.8 for sure, but I would rather climb a 5.9 than steep 4th class slabs with unbonded layer of snow. Some of those sections were REALLY original due to all the snow, route finding was dictated by it as well. I will have to come back and try it during summer some day. Would be nice to not worry about the hazards, and not rope up.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Apr 27, 2011 - 12:59am PT
Thanks, Vitaliy. You guys are inspiring!

And a little 5.8 on Sierra 4th class is kind of expected too. No big deal. I once found honest 5.10 moves on the North Ridge of Lone Pine Peak too. Only once, though, and I've climbed it 6-8 times now. The rest of my ascents were no more than 5.7. Honest 5.7 though, and I don't believe I've ever managed to get up it easier than that.

It doesn't matter, because alpine is like that. You run into a few bouldery moves, but they're right above a ledge so maybe you don't even protect them, and it's more like enjoying that the climbing got cooler than worrying about falling off.

Searching for holds, though, on a slab you can't see with no pro and maybe slippery and not wanting to take your gloves off...

Like I say, you guys rock!
srathbun

Gym climber
Mount Shasta
  Apr 27, 2011 - 02:45pm PT
Oh how I wish those 5.6 moves we encountered were just above a ledge! I think the moon-less night may have offered a false sense of security because we couldn't see the screaming air below us at this poorly protected crux section, just a black void. :-)

Our crux pitch (in summer conditions, just add snow on slab!) can be seen here:
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/WPAaJzEI4x220FZmTfg3Pw?feat=directlink

Mark's trip report on SP can be found here: http://www.summitpost.org/partying-like-a-g6-on-the-east-ridge-of-carl-heller-in-winter-style/705800
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
  Apr 27, 2011 - 01:24am PT
I’m near speechless! What an incredibly great report and inspiration to tackle east side peaks in winter/spring - when the approach isn’t 100 degrees. These are great photos of this route. I’ll bet it wasn’t very crowded!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 27, 2011 - 01:40am PT
Very nice to hear these kind words from a living legend. It is very true that route finding and conditions alter the difficulty encountered. Grades are mostly useless in winter compared to summer (+ it is not about the grade, but the adventure/experience). We climbed full East Arete of Humphreys a month prior to this trip, and found Carl Heller a lot tougher. That's 5.5 vs cl. 4...go figure : )

Thank you all again. And Doug, hope I can do a TR on one of your routes some day soon!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Apr 27, 2011 - 12:37pm PT
Awesome Job guys, way to go full on in the winter!
PellucidWombat

Mountain climber
Berkeley, CA
  Apr 27, 2011 - 02:47pm PT
Yeah, I was already pretty nervous about the crux pitch, but luckily I couldn't see how exposed it was until I was already way out beyond my last piece of pro on my toes! Looking down for better foot placements all I could see beneath my feet was blackness. Yikes! I almost resorted to yarding on the marginal nut since I was pretty well committed to my line, but I decided I trusted my ability to climb that section slightly more than the quality of the marginal placement.

My lead head in the Valley got much better after doing this climb :-D
Port

Trad climber
San Diego
  Apr 27, 2011 - 02:53pm PT
Great job guys. And thanks for the TR!
bubble boy

Big Wall climber
Mammoth, CA
  Apr 27, 2011 - 03:03pm PT
Nice!!!! Our beloved Sierra just sitting there all winter, with only a brave few harvesting the bounty. Good work!
Argon

climber
North Bay, CA
  Apr 27, 2011 - 03:50pm PT
Thanks for the great report. Carl Heller introduced me to climbing and the Sierra's during a backpack trip back about a year before he died in 1984. He was in his early 60's then - but none of us in our 20's could come close to keeping up with him. Norman Clyde had nothing on this guy. We thought he would live forever. He was so inspirational and I have always been grateful for the brief time I got to spend with him.
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Apr 27, 2011 - 04:03pm PT
Great job and TR. Thank you very much.

John
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 27, 2011 - 04:10pm PT
Argon, great to hear you have met him. I heard he was a great guy, strong climber, and I spotted his signature myself on couple of peaks. Next week I will edit the TR and put in some history on Carl Heller himself, I think it is important to spread the word about why some peaks are named after certain people. History is important. Although not the most popular, this one is a GREAT peak!

PS: would encourage you to share some stories about him as well, if you feel like it.
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Apr 27, 2011 - 04:24pm PT
Nice guys!

You all certainly enjoy suffering more than I do!
nutjob

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Apr 27, 2011 - 04:59pm PT
Hey Vitaly, hope my comment didn't rub you all the wrong way. I was just hoping that the external circumstances didn't turn you all against each other, and it looks like you all came through the crucible just fine :)

Thanks for giving us some actual adventure stuff to look at!
Inner City

Trad climber
East Bay
  Apr 27, 2011 - 05:13pm PT
Great trip report! Thanks so much for sharing. What an inspiring an awesome thing to do! Well done!
thetennisguy

Mountain climber
Yuba City, CA
  Apr 27, 2011 - 05:13pm PT
Thanks, Vitaly and crew! Nice work!
Gene

climber
  Apr 27, 2011 - 05:29pm PT
A picture of Carl Heller, the man, is found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rockwellb/480689541/in/set-72157600166233946
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Apr 27, 2011 - 06:56pm PT
didn't rub you all the wrong way
Your comments ALWAYS rub me the RIGHT way, NJ. : ) Being under stress together without big melt downs shows good character. I respect others even more now (hope the others do too haha) for ability to go through when things get altered (tough by our standard) from plan. Going to Alaska with one of them soon as well.

Cleo, after a trip like one you had on Waddington, I do not blame you! *Would love to see your TR with pictures about that one by the way* These stories are great (after you make it out alive).
cleo

Social climber
wherever you go, there you are
  Apr 27, 2011 - 08:02pm PT
Ha, well, I'd have to go back to Vermont and dig out those pics, and scan them. And find old journals...
Zander

climber
  Apr 27, 2011 - 08:13pm PT
Nice!
Thanks for posting it.
Zander
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  May 1, 2011 - 06:44am PT
Cleo, it is worth it!

No problem, Zander. Would love to have more adventures like this : )
arold

Trad climber
Ridgecrest, CA
  May 3, 2011 - 08:15pm PT
I was with Carl when he first climbed this in 1966. We thought for a while it was a first ascent, but it had been climbed in 1964 by Don Clarke and Harvey Hickman. The China Lake Mountain Rescue Group has tried very hard to get this officially named after Carl, unfortunately unsuccessful. But it is gaining recognition in spite of that.
Great TR and beautiful pictures.
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
El Dorado Hills, CA
  May 3, 2011 - 08:58pm PT
Way to go!
Thanks guys
That made my day!
pumpkineater

Trad climber
California
  May 10, 2011 - 10:42pm PT
Oh, man! I'm thinking of climbing this route this summer but drive a puny passenger car. What's the drive like to the "trail" head?

ps, You guys got props from D.R. That's pretty sick.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  May 13, 2011 - 01:10pm PT
Beautiful photo bump!

Dear lord, save us from: wow really?
Dr. X

Big Wall climber
X- Town
  May 13, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
Bump for climbing related content.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  May 17, 2011 - 11:26am PT
pumpkineater, drive in a little 2wd would suck. I heard some people were able to get within couple of miles of TH in those though. But, I would prefer a 4wd with clearance!
Adamame

climber
Santa Cruz
  Aug 5, 2011 - 03:23am PT
If you only have a 2wd car just do what my girlfriend and I did this last week and start at Kearsarge Pass. 5 days of extremely gorgeous (and bushless) trail-less hiking and climbing got us to Wallace Lake. From there you get to do the heinous 1400 ft Vacation Pass ascent before and not after the climb. In addition you get to climb or drool over hundreds of potential FA's or real climbs along the way. We hiked out over Russel-Carillon Pass and out to Whitney Portal more in touch with and less trashed by nature then anyone coming up and down George Creek would have been.

As many others have reported we discovered that this climb is not a Class 3 and more like a 5.5-8, if you go the correct way, which is not very apparent from the Secor or Fiddler/Moynier descriptions. Rumor has it that Fiddler or Moynier never even climbed this route, so their description of climbing over numerous steps along the ridge is a total sandbag, it's a little more complicated then that. And like the rest of the Secor book you never know what to believe anyways. So is Class 3 just a historical sandbag grade in this case just like the 5.9 grade?

Mt Carl Heller's East Ridge is a spectacular route not for the faint of heart. This is the hardest Class 3 climb I have ever done. A surreal mile long voyage through lichen encrusted and loose pitches, mixed with flawless and solid ridge traversing, challenging route finding, grand exposure, and a spectacular summit. We soloed most of the first half and then roped up and belayed at least ten diverse more pitches to the top. It is a proud and intimidating route. What do you get for the effort? A Peak where on average (according to the summit register) only five folks a year touch the summit.

I give some serious respect to you guys doing this in the snowy conditions you endeavored through this winter. A truly badazz ascent! But our pet Penguin Penny made the first penguin ascent of the route which is the first non-human ascent acknowledged in the summit register.

And Doug R., I wish you could have been up there with us. I would go back up there with you in a second (I'm a 5.12 bushwhacker) up George Creek. But Vacation is about equal with Russell-Carillon Pass so you may have no interest. It's funny that yesterday hiking out I Said I would never go back and now I already would do it again. This is truly the sign of a special route.

And thanks to who ever left the vodka at the top.

And if you lost a knife on this climb, describe it to me and will get it back to you, but most likely not until October comes around.

The East Ridge of Mt Carl Heller from Vacation Pass
The East Ridge of Mt Carl Heller from Vacation Pass
Credit: Adamame

On the mellow first half.
On the mellow first half.
Credit: Adamame

In the money before its gets real.
In the money before its gets real.
Credit: Adamame

Celebrating the first Penguin Ascent!
Celebrating the first Penguin Ascent!
Credit: Adamame




Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Aug 5, 2011 - 12:13pm PT
Clearly, that Penguin rocks! Nice piece of inter-species guiding, Adam!

Wish I could have been there with you guys, but I was having a truly fine time in Tuolumne.

Maybe the optimum ascent would kind of split the difference between the truly badass winter ascent and the epic summer scree on Vacation Pass by taking your route only on skis in the spring...
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Aug 5, 2011 - 12:21pm PT
RAwsome post!
insatiable

Mountain climber
santa cruz, ca
  Aug 5, 2011 - 01:27pm PT
i don't always hike in a bikini top, but adam insisted for the photo op. for the record, way better than a sports bra. carl heller was a super amazing fun climb, wallace lake is stunningly gorgeous, cruising down the mountaineers route was frustrating as always. we're off to climb clarence king in 10 days, then cotter, then who knows?
Radish

Trad climber
SeKi, California
  Aug 5, 2011 - 01:59pm PT
Nice Report! Good to see some other areas getting some attention, not the same old top ten too doo's. There is SOOOO much to do out in the High Sierra, so many peaks that call to be climbed. Good Job!
Maysho

climber
Soda Springs, CA
  Aug 5, 2011 - 02:00pm PT
I left you that half bottle of vodka, but Vitaly left the bottle in the first place! (Thanks!) Wasn't sure if it was bad form to not finish it off once I opened it, but I was already "drunk" on beauty and fine climbing, and now glad that you two appreciated it.

Peter
insatiable

Mountain climber
santa cruz, ca
  Aug 5, 2011 - 05:53pm PT
peter, not bad form to leave some vodka, we very much appreciated it, hauled out the empty to recycle and your traverse sounds incredible. we're aiming for a 6 week backpacking- mountain-climbing-rambling trip taking in some of the finest mostly mid 5th class ridges on back country peaks. through-mountaineering, sorta. starting in onion valley, crossing over to the west side and then heading north. so far we're hoping for haeckel, darwin, 7 gables, feather peak, merriam, whorl mountain (traverse??! is it possible?), west ridge of conness.... other suggestions?
gonzo chemist

climber
the east coast, for now.
  Aug 6, 2011 - 07:20pm PT
Awesome TR! Ballsy ascent in the winter. I descended George Creek off of Mt. Williamson about two weeks ago. GNARLY. Parts of that were absolutely heinous. Man if I ever head back up that creek, I'm bringing a machete.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Author's Reply  Nov 14, 2011 - 11:02am PT
Adamame, thank you for a TR of your own! Sorry I did not see this earlier. Seems like you guys had a lot of fun this summer. I actually got out to Gardnier and Clarence King myself at some point...great place. Both not often visited as well, but really worth a visit!
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