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North America, Contiguous United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Michael Minaret, West Ridge, The Crescent, Previously Unreported

Michael Minaret, West Ridge, The Crescent, Previously Unreported. After the Minaret Traverse and the South Face of Clyde, the West Ridge (IV 5.8) is the longest route in the Minarets. It was first climbed by Lynn Bowering and me. Approach via North Notch or Amphitheater Col between Michael and Adams Minaret. The ridge is shaped liked the crescent moon: low angle at the start, steepening to vertical in the middle and overhanging at the top. Begin at the base of the ridge and climb unroped for 300 or 400 feet (look for Norman Clyde’s cairn that marks Clyde’s ledges on the way up). Stay directly on the ridge, climbing easy cracks and a series of low-angle roofs, then skirt left past horror show detached blocks on the ridge. A giant ledge provides a perfect view of the superb next pitch, where a series of ceilings capped by a 30-foot overhang blocks the way to the summit ridge. From directly on the ridge, ascend a finger crack in a comer to the first roof. Skirt this on the right and step back over the lip to gain a crack leading to the final overhang. Either jam underneath or pass the overhang on the left by stepping on the lip of the overhang beneath it. This is one of the finest pitches I have ever climbed in the High Sierra. Two more arête pitches, past the pinnacle that resembles the profile of Walter Starr, lead to the summit. Descend via four rappels straight down to Amphitheater Col.

Michael Strassman