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North America, United States, California–Sierra Nevada, Mount Whitney, East Face

Mount Whitney, East Face. On June 16, David Wilson and I ascended a new all-free route, Left Wing Extremist (V, 5.11a, 16 pitches) on this 2000-foot granite wall to the left of the old Direct East-Face route. We ascended a pedestal for two pitches, then veered slightly right up vertical and overhanging cracks for four continuous pitches of 5.10 and 5.11 into a huge open book joined by an overhanging seam without a continuous crack. On the right wall is a full-pitch, five-to-seven-inch, off-width crack with parallel sides and rounded edges. Lack of protection stopped a 1990 attempt here with Kike Arnal of Venezuela. This time we brought #5 and #6 Friends plus a Big Bro for what turned out to be a 5. 10d groaner at nearly 14,000 feet. Above, the difficulties eased into superb 5.8 and 5.9 plates and knobs on a rib that stayed left of the upper part of the standard east-face route. The route took a full day and is similar in length, rock and steepness to Keeler Needle, but with more continuous difficulty and fewer cracks.

Galen A. Rowell