June Climbs

Its summer time, and all the guides on the Sierra East Side are slammed with work – but we’re not complaining! My June was highlighted by a possible FA and a guided ascent of the rarely climbed Moynier Couloir on Mt. Thompson.

I had a free day off on 5 June, so I decided to make it a “training day” and climb something I look at every time I hike to Whitney: The Impala. This rock spur of Mt. Carillon towers over Lower Boy Scout Lake, the lower false summit appearing as a distinct spire. Last September I was part of a three-man team that climbed a new route on the shield of rock to the right, on a formation we named “The Springbok”. As we climbed we could look over to the left and scope a long rock ridge that climbed almost directly to the Impala’s false summit. I wanted to climb this ridge.

Remarkably, both formations have relatively few routes, despite a short approach, solid rock, and obvious presence. The Springbok had only one other line, The Winged Horse, a III 5.8 A3 route that splits the face right down the middle, established by Beckey and Miller in 1970. Our route from last summer, Adios Yahoos, is a 4+ pitch II 5.8 A0 route following cracks and a low roof directly to the summit. It could be freed at a low 5.10 if anyone gives it a go.

I hiked up in quick time to Upper Boy Scout Lake, before turning and descending down to the Impala. In the future, I’ll probably approach from the right side instead or from the glacier slabs between UBS and LBS, but I wanted the perspectives as I neared the ridge. It also gave me a chance to scope out the other two routes that are documented on the Impala, both II 5.7: the Diagonal Route and the South Face. The East Ridge started at a perfect notch on the far right side of the face, and I started up a long line of cracks. Twice I was stumped by notches that forced me to descend onto the South Face briefly to get around and regained the ridge. At the very top, perhaps 30m from the summit blocks in view, I chose to follow a ledge system around onto the South Face for the last time and then climbed onto the summit. I couldn’t find any register, so I tore my permit in half and wrote a quick note, pinning it down with a rock. I goofed and called it the Ibex, and didn’t realize that this was the false summit until I got down that evening. Descent was simple – a 4th class chimney and ledge system led to another notch on the backside, then following sands and slabs lead back to the bottom of the South Face. I figured the route was approximately 800 feet long, and graded it II 5.7.

PG came out just a few days later for a weekend away from school, and I finally got to show her the Whitney Portal, where we climbed my favorite 5.8, the 6 pitch Premier Route on Premier Buttress (III 5.8 A0, or 5.10b).

I also got to guide the rarely climbed Moynier Couloir on Mt. Thompson. This route is usually melted out by the time other alpine ice climbs are in shape. But this year SMC decided to attempt guiding these routes in earlier summer conditions, and we found awesome climbs! The Moynier Couloir featured three pitches of gradually steppening ice climbing, then a steep short ice step around one chock stone on pitch 4 followed by a mixed 5.6 step around a second chock stone on pitch 5. Incredibly climbing up a narrow line. Really good times!

I actually haven’t had time to climb anything else, or run for that matter. My sister and her husband brought my 2 year-old nephew out for a visit, and I’ve been working ever since! You can read about those adventures on the Sierra Mountain Center Blog. So that’s that.




5 June 2008. East Ridge, The Impala, II 5.7, 800 feet. Possible First Ascent and solo.

8 June 2008. Premier Route, Premier Buttress, III 5.8 A0 with PG.

25 June 2008. Moynier Couloir, III 5.6 AI3 Mixed. Guided ascent with one client.