American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Split Mountain, East Arête of South Summit

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1977

Split Mountain, East Arête of South Summit. Once called Southeast Palisade, this mountain somehow escaped all of the technical climbing that has gone on in the true Palisade Group, a few miles to the north. From the east, 14,058-foot Split Mountain presents two narrow arêtes dropping 2000 feet each into a basin. In February David Beiden, a visiting French guide, joined me in an attempt on the largest arête. We found very mild winter conditions and camped below the arête at 10,500 feet. The following morning we climbed easy rock and snow gullies for a few hundred feet to the base of a sheer wall. Here we found a section of F9 climbing that was all we could manage in the cold weather with mountain boots. Several pitches higher the route reached the crest of the arête and David joyfully yelled down, “Baroque!” For a thousand feet above him the ridge crest was rarely wider than six feet and it was serrated like an upturned saw blade. The teeth were granite blocks varying from ten to fifty feet across. We hurried across the ridge, sometimes roped, sometimes not, until we reached another small headwall, this time F8. After sixteen pitches of climbing we finally reached the south summit—the left side of the “split” for which the peak is named. It took us another full hour to cross the long split to the main summit and we barely reached camp at dark. NCCS IV, F9.

Galen Rowell

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