Southeast Face 5.7

 
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Petite Griffon


High Sierra, California USA


Trip Report
The wife's first alpine climb -- Petit Griffon
Monday June 27, 2016 4:04pm
My wife, about to become an alpinist? Lets hope so
My wife, about to become an alpinist? Lets hope so
Credit: Nanobody

Me - "Do you want to go climb this thing in the little lakes valley? Its a bit like the Dorion tower, but at 13,000 feet"

Wife - "Sure, I love that area"

Me - "Its going to involve snow climbing, so you'll need crampons and an ice axe"

distinct pause

Wife - " Hmmm, well, ok"

Although my wife is a great rock climber, she has been hesitant to do anything that involves snow and ice. Finally after much convincing,she agreed. She likes backpacking, she likes climbing, alpine climbing is just putting both of them together!

Our objective - Petit Griffon, a rock spire at 13,000' that sits in beteeen Mt Mills and Mt Abbott. It involves over 1000' of snow climbing, and three pitches of rock climbing to the summit. Sounds like a blast!

This looks fun. Lets go climb it
This looks fun. Lets go climb it
Credit: Nanobody

We headed up the east side of the Sierras, picked up our permit in Mammoth Lakes, then drove to the trailhead down rock creek road. We woke up bright and early, realized we had forgotton coffee, so drove back to Mammoth, rectified that mistake and were on the trail by 9am. Right away, we were gifted with magnificent alpine views.

Bear creek spire looks nice from here
Bear creek spire looks nice from here
Credit: Nanobody

We headed up towards Mono Pass, then Ruby Lake. We crossed a stream, then time for cross country travel. It was not long before we were at the snow line.

Oh, please don't fall in...
Oh, please don't fall in...
Credit: Nanobody

We had planned to climb the route on Friday, but the wife started to feel a bit of AMS from the altitude, so we decided to make a camp, acclimate for the night, and try climbing it in the morning. We set a nice camp around 11,000' just below lake Mills. And had a relaxing afternoon, resting, acclimating, and enjoying the stunning location. We entertained ourselves by building a series of tiny snowmen.

rest time
rest time
Credit: Nanobody

Entertainment while acclimating
Entertainment while acclimating
Credit: Nanobody

We both got a solid 10 hours of sleep, and were up and back on the approach to the climb around 8 am. We got to the base of the snow couloir below the climb, 1000' of 40 degree snow slopes. We put on our crampons, busted out the ice axes and up we went. The wife's first experience with crampons. The upper part of couloir was in the shade, so it was very cold, and quite icy. I'm glad we had crampons. We reached the notch just below the tower, and got our first views of the climb.

Almost to the climb
Almost to the climb
Credit: Nanobody

Looking up at the spire. What a beauty
Looking up at the spire. What a beauty
Credit: Nanobody

As I racked up, a couple of other climbers showed up. Strangely enough, we had actually met one of them before at the base of Snake Dike earlier in May. Small world

I headed up first, a 5.6 corner crack system, my fingers were numb from the cold, making the crack seem much harder. Then a belay at a flake, and a weird traversing, down-climbing 4th class pitch.

Then the crux pitch, a wild looking 5.7 crack with 300' of air below. Wildly exposed, but super fun, well protected climbing.

Crux moves. Super fun!
Crux moves. Super fun!
Credit: Nanobody

Then summit time! The summit was amazing, a perfectly flat, coffee table sized block. We looked in the summit register, we were the first climbers to summit in 2016. Unlike some Sierra peaks, this one is not frequented very often. There was even a fragment of the original register, which contained the names of the first/second ascensionists in 1964.

Don't see pieces of the original summit registers very often!
Don't see pieces of the original summit registers very often!
Credit: Nanobody

Summit! Victory!
Summit! Victory!
Credit: Nanobody

We waited for the other party to summit, chilled with them for a few minutes, and to make our descent quicker, we teamed up and tied our ropes together to make the rappels quicker.

We then rigged another rappel to quickly bypass the steeper bits in the snow couloir. We said our goodbyes to the other party.
Very nice guys, I hope we run into them again sometime. Its always nice to have more partners for alpine adventures.

Down the couloir
Down the couloir
Credit: Nanobody

We walked back to our camp, rested for a while, then I foolishly spilled our Deluxe Kraft Dinner. So we opted to walk out and get pizza in Mammoth.

Amazing climb, in a stellar location. This is why I love living in California, and why I love alpine climbing. I think maybe I hooked my wife on alpinism, what's next for us?

Alpinist in the making?
Alpinist in the making?
Credit: Nanobody

  Trip Report Views: 3,433
Nanobody
About the Author
Nanobody is a wussy, spaghetti armed climber from Fresno, CA.

Comments
Ed H

Trad climber
Santa Rosa, CA
  Jun 27, 2016 - 04:20pm PT
Southeast Face of Petite Griffon - tick!

Way to get after it!
looks easy from here

climber
Santa Cruzish
  Jun 27, 2016 - 04:25pm PT
Rad!

I think maybe I hooked my wife on alpinism

Based off that summit shot I'd say you can drop the "maybe".
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado & Nepal
  Jun 27, 2016 - 05:13pm PT
What a fun climb! Thanks for the TR. I love easy alpine routes. I hope you and your wife do many more.
johntp

Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Jun 27, 2016 - 05:22pm PT
Based off that summit shot I'd say you can drop the "maybe".

She looks pretty happy. TFPU.
Dapper Dan

Trad climber
Redwood City
  Jun 27, 2016 - 05:27pm PT
Nice TR , climbing with the person you share your life with is priceless....
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Jun 27, 2016 - 05:28pm PT
I'd have made you walk out, get pizza and deliver it back to me in the mountains.

She's obviously too cool to have made you do that.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Jun 27, 2016 - 05:36pm PT
Nice!
Mike.

climber
  Jun 27, 2016 - 07:20pm PT
The best of climbing, right there good times with your best friend. Congratulations to both of you on the send, and for opening up the bonding possibilities.
SC seagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, Moab, Bozeman, the ocean, or ?
  Jun 28, 2016 - 01:37am PT
This was really nice!

Susan
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
  Jun 28, 2016 - 03:51am PT
Walkin' then we sit.
More walking
Very nice hit!
Thnx for sharing
Your wife rocks !
Have her post too!
I can not get my wife to.
So good luck to you !
Yes California rocks !
O.D.

Trad climber
LA LA Land
  Jun 28, 2016 - 07:32am PT
Fantastic climb, and write-up! Thanks for sharing your experience here.
skcreidc

Social climber
SD, CA
  Jun 28, 2016 - 10:08am PT
Very cool. Still working on getting my wife out and about on something like this. TFPU
pc

climber
  Jun 28, 2016 - 11:07am PT
Terrific! Thanks for sharing. What a great adventure.

Cheers,
pc
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jun 28, 2016 - 11:24am PT
Way rad. Been eying that sucker for years. Way to get it done!

Scott
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jun 28, 2016 - 11:36am PT
Excellent! TFPU
littlejenner

Trad climber
lived lots of places in CA
  Jul 12, 2016 - 11:57am PT
Lovely shots!
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
  Jul 12, 2016 - 12:01pm PT
TFPU!
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Jul 12, 2016 - 12:08pm PT
I was last in that area in 1979, but we climbed Abbott instead. I always knew I wanted to come back. Thanks much for an excellent TR.

John
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Jul 12, 2016 - 03:10pm PT
Beautiful Rock!!!
clode

Trad climber
portland, or
  Jul 12, 2016 - 03:21pm PT
Way to go! Wish I had been there with you! Even though I'm from choss-heap champion Oregon, I still would have "put up" with that Sierra high stuff! TFPU!
clode

Trad climber
portland, or
  Jul 12, 2016 - 03:22pm PT
Sorry about the accidental double-posting, but the TR deserves it!
NutAgain!

Trad climber
https://nutagain.org
  Jul 13, 2016 - 08:52am PT
Mixing two passions is very nice. Congrats!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Jul 13, 2016 - 09:54am PT
Sweet....and getting the wife involved means more days in the alpine.
Stevee B

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 14, 2016 - 12:24am PT
Why is this so rad? Because it is rad. You got me fired up, thank you! Maybe my wife is ready for her first crampon experience. Just need to find a sitter...
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Petite Griffon - Southeast Face 5.7 - High Sierra, California USA. Click to Enlarge
Overview of the Petite Griffon and surrounding peaks.
Photo: McKenzie Long