North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Mt. Chamberlain, Asleep at the Wheel

Publication Year: 2002.

Mt. Chamberlain, Asleep at the Wheel. In August Mike Pennings and I checked out Mt. Chamberlain, located southwest of Mt. Whitney. I had been teased by a photo of the northwest face for years. A buttress on the left (southern) edge of the wall was adorned with an obvious corner that had not been climbed. The route begins directly below this corner, ascending large flakes in a left-facing corner. Another pitch of cracks and easy face climbing reaches the obvious corner. Some thin 5.11 climbing and a creative deviation onto the face get you past sections where the corner pinches out. Tricky face climbing takes you left from the top of corner and aims you toward the second obvious feature of the route, a large white square bordered by an orange dihedral and a roof. Mike was in his element on this pitch, with tricky thin climbing on perfect orange knobs leading to an overhanging dihedral for fingers and hands. Wow! The route then heads left, around to the other side of the buttress. A pitch of double cracks and a steep section of quartz complete the route. We named the route Asleep at the Wheel, after an interesting encounter with the only other person back where we were. After crashing his car on the drive, he had remained so dedicated to his Chamberlain mission that he grabbed his pack, stuck out his thumb, and continued. Asleep at the Wheel (V 5.11) was completed without hammers, pins, or bolts and is one of the finest backcountry routes in the Sierra.

Jimmy Haden