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North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Cleaver, Cleavage Dreamer and Southeast Arête

Cleaver, Cleavage Dreamer and Southeast Arête. Imagine a dead-vertical alpine wall a thousand feet tall and a thousand feet wide, the summit over 13,000', countless virgin vertical crack systems, and only a few hours’ hike from a trailhead. This is the south face of the Cleaver, a stone’s throw from Mt. Whitney After spotting the face, we learned that it had only one route, the South Face (Arthur Killian and Tom Condon, September 1961), which we believe is on the far left.

On June 28 Kostas Stamatiou and I got an early start from Whitney Portal and went for it. Cleavage Dreamer (III 5.10) starts near the center of the south face and climbs through two pitches of laybacks and hand cracks to a good ledge below polished overhangs. From here we traversed left to the base of a large detached pillar (the Greek Finger). Next came the crux dihedral, a shallow, wide crack requiring body English we did not have, so we aided a short section (Scotty Nelson and Lin Pearson called this pitch 5.10 on their FFA a couple of weeks later). The final pitch was exciting—questionably protected questionable holds and 5.10 moves through the summit overhangs to the knife-edge summit ridge.

A couple of weeks later I returned with Scotty Nelson to nab the Southeast Arête (II 5.7), which follows the prominent arête on the right side of the southeast face, just left of the giant split.

Nate Ricklin, Pullharder Alpine Club