AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

North America, United States, California—Sierra Nevada, Treasure Peak, The Pharaoh and The White Fang

Treasure Peak, The Pharaoh and The White Fang. Treasure Peak is 6 miles north of Mount Abbott and is called by this name in R.J. Secor’s guide. In July, Urmas Franosch and I did “Band of Gypies,” a direct route on its unclimbed north face. Three full rope-lengths led up the steepest section of the surreally banded face onto the east ridge, one fourth-class pitch from the summit. The third pitch, the crux, was loose and continuous, with protection up to 4 inches required. (III, 5.10a.) The Pharaoh (9600+ feet) is 6 miles west of Miller Lake in Yosemite’s Matterhorn Canyon. I spotted this formation on the Tuolumne Meadows quadrangle as a mass of contour lines two miles downstream from the northbound Pacific Crest Trail to Benson Lake. On the faith of those lines, Franosch and I hiked 18 miles from Saddlebag Lake to find this spectacular 1000-foot pointed buttress looming over the verdant meadows of rarely-explored lower Matterhorn Canyon. We climbed the easiest-looking line on the northwest face (IV, 5.11). There were nine long pitches of consistent 5.9 and 5.10 crack climbing. The crux seventh pitch was 5.11 stemming. The rock was Fairview Dome-like, with many vertical knobby faces and sinuous crack systems. We placed no bolts or pins and used protection up to 4½ inches. A curious hanging lake behind the summit pinnacle provided a refreshing respite before the 1000-foot descent of a gully to the south. The White Fang is on the east face of P 12,240, midway between Mounts Aggie and Baldwin. Roper’s guide describes it as a “spectacular flat-faced formation briefly visible from US 395.” This huge, white monolith of questionable dioritic marble is familiar to anyone who has hot-tubbed south of Mammoth, and I was curious as to why the strong first-ascent team of Rowell, Raymond and Callis settled for the third-class northwest chute and not the main east face. In September, Steve Germerding, Carla Zezeula, Denise Brown and I formed a team to climb “White Trash” and blitzed the east face in a three-day effort. True to the rumors of unclimbable rock, we managed to tread gingerly for three pitches of 5.10 and six of 5.9x (“no one must fall”). Brown had to leave for work on the third day, but her logistical support was vital to our ultimate victory. (IV, 5.10.)

Al Swanson