Bedayan Minaret, East Ridge
California, Eastern Sierra
On July 10, Giselle Fernandez and I made the first known ascent of the east ridge of Bedayan Minaret (12,080’). This feature is one of the largest in the Minarets, rising nearly 1,000 vertical feet out of the fleeting icefield below. The twin east ridge of neighboring Rice Minaret was climbed in 2004 (III 5.8, Harden-Young), but the east ridge of Bedayan Minaret was to our knowledge unexplored. However, several previous routes exist on this seldom-visited peak, the most technical being the northeast face (5th class).
After hiking 6.8 miles from Agnew Meadows to Iceberg Lake, we spent the night and awoke at sunrise to make our way to the toe of the buttress. We intended to start at the very lowest point, but blank walls forced us to traverse a hundred yards left along the lip of the bergschrund until we found the only reasonable-looking weakness on the entire face. The first pitch was a steep, blackened stem box (5.10a) that presented the most difficult and sustained climbing on the route. Above this a diagonal dihedral/ramp led to the true east ridge, which we followed for eight more pitches as it tapered gradually yet dramatically to the narrow summit crest. The difficulty along the ridge was mostly 4th class, yet almost every pitch had at least one section of 5.6 to 5.8 climbing. We spent ten hours on the route and placed no bolts along the way.
By our rope, the total length climbed was just over 1,600’. We anticipated a long battle with putrid choss but instead found nice cracks and fantastic ridge climbing on mostly solid stone. We downclimbed the north ridge (4th class) to the east couloir, then made four 100’ rappels down the couloir to get back to the snow and scree slopes above Iceberg Lake.
– Derek Field, Canada