After seeing Starr King from Tioga Rd. off in the distance and reading about it for years, it was time to go.
My girlfriend, Miss Colleen, wanted to spend time in the mountains and loves to backpack. We talked about it with friends, got the permit and headed out. There were four of us. Joe Berg, Jaywood, myself and Miss Colleen.
The day we hiked in (June 7th) was exceptionally hot (high eighties) as we took off from the Mono Meadows trail head. The forecast was for late afternoon thundershowers but we pressed on. In spite of the thunderstorm threat, we brought our climbing gear anyway hoping to at least take the shorter easy route up the north face if weather permitted. We swam in Illilouette Creek after crossing low water at the trail point on the way for some great relief from the heat.
Then we slogged across the shortcut over the shallow rock covered hill shown in Clint Cummins' overlay approach http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1850876&tn=0
. The rock was near 90 degrees during the afternoon sun.
We then took the wash shown to the campsite and set up camp in the late afternoon as thunderclouds passed over Starr King. The views were magnificent.
The next morning, the day of Miss Colleen's birthday was cloudless and a bit cooler so the four of us set out to climb a couple of routes on the west and southwest faces respectively. Jaywood and Joe set for the west face and Miss Colleen and I set out for the southwest face. Miss Colleen and I had Clint's overlay of the main face and guessed at where the traverse for the first pitch went (After studying Clint's overlay, it looks like we started much higher as the traverse in the overlay looks like it starts much lower when compared to the bush line we started from in overlay and QITNL's photo's).
I started out and somehow managed to hit the top of what I believe (after studying the overlay and other thread pictures) is the first pitch anchors of the southwest face or "Tom Rogers" route. The bolts were new SS 3/8ths that Clint and Roger et al. replaced?
At any rate, we climbed up past two more new bolts to the second pitch anchor of the same route. We looked around and couldn't find any more bolts so I took off up and right to a crack and then traversed back to a point about four fifths of the way along the right side of the big smiling crack/wall to pitch three but I don't think we took the Tom Rogers route there. I think the route was more direct and up from the anchors. Set up a gear anchor and headed out and about 30' past the end of the smile and left the Tom Rogers route behind as I think, after looking at Clint's overlay, that route continues up before the smile ends. I was shooting for a salmon colored streak of large holds,got there and found a bolt about another 30' up from where I traversed so I was about 70' out at that point. The bolt was an old SMC with a square 1/4" nut but was in good shape. That was the last piece of pro I saw for the rest of the climb. Someone had been there but where they went after remains a mystery. Anyone know? Anyway, I climbed a full rope length, found a crack and belayed Miss Colleen up. I had her climb up past me to a large ramp that was comfortable so she wouldn't have to hang at the belay. There was no pro at the ramp and we noticed clouds starting to gather.
At this point it would have been hard to bail as we had traversed out and didn't know where or how far the belays were for "Nuts and Bolts" which was supposed to be to the right of us but I couldn't see any gear. So my mission was to find a way up as easily, safely and as quickly as possible because the sky was getting darker. We saw a tree above and aimed for it. The tree is visible in the photo's of the mentioned thread, particularly in QITNL's pictures. The rest of the climb was finding an easy way up through water chutes and some small cracks for belays, but mostly face climbing on good rock. No bolt kit so there are pitches with no pro. The last pitch was finally an easily protected crack. This may converge with the Tom Rogers and Nuts and Bolts routes but it's hard to tell. Third class after the tree.
We got to the top and it started to hail but we were lucky. We were on the western edge of the storm and watched it pass over Clouds Rest and on into Tuolumne. The rock was barely dampened and we rapped off safely down to the southeast saddle and climbed up the second dome for a snack and a great view.
So, we apparently climbed on maybe two pitches (second and last?) of the Tom Rogers route. But didn't see a trace, other then the old bolt of a route or gear where we climbed. So I think an unplanned FA went up that day. Here is a topo. If someone went this way, cool. I don't think it will get repeated much if ever and it wasn't intentional but we climbed it none the less. It's on good (maybe great as it is very clean)rock.
Miss Colleen was a great partner. Positive and supportive the whole way.