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North America, Contiguous United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Seven Gables, The Golden Thread Arête

Seven Gables, The Golden Thread Arête. The north side of Peak 12,840', the northernmost point in the Seven Gables Massif, bears a strong resemblance to Temple Crag in the Palisades, 20 miles to the southeast. Six major buttresses and arêtes drop steeply away from the summit ridge for over 1,500 feet. On September 5, Stuart Polack and I made the first ascent of the most aesthetically pleasing line on the north face of this peak, the curving arête immediately west of the summit. We began climbing in a large recess low on the left flank of the arête. Three pitches up an ever-steepening ramp and crack system (some 5.8) took us to its crest. The first pitch along the arête is a very rude eye opener. What appeared from below to be a gentle slab is a steep face split by a poorly protected 5.8 finger crack. Although most of route is moderate scrambling (5.5-5.7), the steep flanks and narrow crest of the arête force commitment early on. The ninth pitch is the crux, a flared 5.8 comer at the top of which you stem left into a 5.9 lieback. At the end of the 12th pitch, our noses not so gently bumped into the end of the arête, a nearly featureless headwall barring direct access to the summit. We traversed into the couloir to our right, climbed a steep ramp to a large ledge, then followed disconnected 5.7 cracks to the summit ridge 100 feet below the top. Back in camp that evening, we watched rays from the setting sun paint a slender thread of golden light along the path of our route, The Golden Thread Arête (IV 5.9, 14 pitches).

Walt Vennum