American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Contiguous United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Various Activity, Previously Unreported

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2000

Sierra Nevada, Various Activity, Previously Unreported. Although there was little coverage in the 1999 AAJ, route development and freeing of old aid lines continues at a frenetic pace in the California High Sierra. Unreported from August, 1997, Craig Harris and partner completed Milktoast Chimney on the south face of Peak 12,960'+, a stunning 1,200-foot line starting just five feet east of Beckey’s Red Baron Tower route. In spite of its intimidating visage, the pair found the classic eight-pitch chimney system surprisingly easy at 5.8. This route ranks as one of the best and most continuous chimney climbs in California outside Yosemite Valley.

In August, 1998, Em Holland and partner completed the first free ascent of the old Hechtel Southeast Face route on Columbia Finger, climbing a steep offwidth/stem problem to free the aid pitch at 5.9. They found several of Hechtel’s old aid pitons on this pitch, some of which they were able to remove by hand, belying the current view that such items are “permanent installations.”

Also unreported from August 1998, Bob Harrington and I completed the first free ascent (and second overall ascent) of Planaria on Temple Crag in the High Sierra, first climbed 21 years earlier by Gordon Wiltsie and Jay Jensen. The first two (aid) pitches were bypassed by establishing a two-pitch variation to the right of the original line. Higher, we climbed the left side of “The Flatworm” via the same offwidth that had ejected Wiltsie and Jensen with a 30-foot fall during the first ascent. After climbing the route, we continued to the summit via the upper buttress, rating the entire climb V 5.1 OR.

Bruce Binder

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