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North America, United States, California, Lone Pine Peak, South Face, Land of Little Rain

Lone Pine Peak, South Face, Land of Little Rain. As you sit by the Stone House, an old building at the end of Tuttle Creek trail, the south face of Lone Pine Peak looms above you. This mile-wide and 3,000-foot-high wall is one of many great Sierra sights between Mount Langley and Mount Williamson. When Miguel Carmona and I approached the Winter Route in January 1984, we couldn’t help noticing the steep wall to the left of our climb. Miguel was sure that one of these days we would climb a line on this face. Over the years we came back to climb other routes on the peak, but our conversations always turned toward the center of the face. One day we should climb it. …

Then, in 1995, the AAJ came out with a description of a new line on the ridge above the Winter Route (Summer Ridge, V 5.9). We knew that our time had come!

In June, 1996, Miguel, Jim Mathews and I scrambled up 1,400 feet of initial gullies and short cliffs to the start of a steep, clean crack. Jim led this crack in impeccable style while we marveled at the wide stems that were needed at the top (.10b/c). Right from the start, the rock turned out to be solid, smooth and Yosemite-like. Two pitches of aesthetic face and crack climbing followed (5.9). Miguel led a clean, thin crack/dihedral, followed by an upward traverse under a large roof (.10c).

Two weeks later all three of us returned to re-climb these pitches and follow new ground to the summit plateau. The upper part of the face continues with quality climbing, easing through a vertical sea of pockets on pitches seven, eight and nine. The ninth pitch deposited us on the Summer Ridge. We climbed four airy pitches (fifth class) to reach the notch of the Winter Route. After rappelling the Notch, we climbed three pitches up the face left of the notch. On the last pitch, Jim, in the lead, discovered a long, steep 5.8 offwidth. Some 300 feet of fourth class led to the summit plateau and the end of the climb. If discovered, this route, Land of Little Rain (V 5.10c), could become popular, as it combines an alpine start and finish with aesthetic pitches of pure rock climbing, plus sufficient length to keep even the strong climbers interested.

Alois Smrz