American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Peak 11,440+, Spring Lake Wall, "That's a Sheer Cliff" Route

North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year: 1975
  • Publication Year: 1976

The north face of Peak 11,440+ in the Mineral King region drops sheerly into Spring Lake. Unknown to Vern Clevenger and me, Fred Beckey had climbed the right side of the face earlier in 1975. As we veered from the unofficial trail to approach the face, a backpacker began yelling at us excitedly, “Come back! Come back! That’s a sheer cliff!” We decided that his quote would be a fitting name if we could climb the wall. The center of the face had several dihedrals rising vertically nearly 1000 feet. Rashly, Vern and I began the climb at two P.M. after our approach from the roadhead. We thought if all the climbing was free, then we could finish the climb by dark. Late in the day we had climbed only two F9 pitches, one of them poorly protected and devious. We descended and returned the next morning, climbing two more F9 pitches up cracks, chimneys, and bulges before the route eased back into lower angle F7 and F8. By noon we reached the summit. NCCS IV, F9.

Galen A. Rowell

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