Mt. Chamberlain, I Fink Therefore I Am. Having long been fascinated with reports and photos of Mt. Chamberlain, deep behind the Sierra Crest, I finally made the trip in July. Ever ready for adventure, the energizer bunny himself, Jonny Copp of Boulder, was my partner.
Jonny and I rendezvoused in the sleepy town of Lone Pine. He had flown to L.A. to visit family, and I dropped down from Bishop. The forecast was grim. As we organized and drove up the Whitney Portal road, the clouds conspired and swirled in blackness above the crest.
With a late afternoon start, we reached Trail Camp well after dark. As with most of my Sierra ventures, we were underequipped, with one bivy sack and no tent. It rained on us all night.
We set off the next morning damp in the fog and cold, but it’s the Sierra, how bad can it be? It rained most of the way over to the camp in the Crabtree Lakes area at the base of the wall. The afternoon cleared a bit and gave us time to scope our options. The dry evening allowed us to discover bouldering reminiscent of Tuolumne Meadows.
Not sure, because of the weather, if we would climb, we were pleasantly surprised when the clouds held off just long enough for us to piece together an entirely independent eight- pitch line up the right side of the northeast face.
This line starts in a shallow corner system, fairly indistinct among the rows of these along the base of the wall. The third pitch is a scramble over a large ledge and shares a belay with the top of the fourth pitch of Dave Nettle’s route, Breaking Point. The following pitches climb the obvious diagonal crack system splitting the face proper. The first is marked by a quartzite-like ramp; the next holds the only aid (should go free with more cleaning and possibly a bolt or two) on the route and is also the most spectacular: a 180' crack-switching splitter up a broad wall. From there, it’s back to ramps and corners.
I Fink Therefore I Am, although not the quality of the Hulk or the Valley, is a quality, fun, and direct V 5.11- A1 in a beautiful and pristine setting.