Mt. Chamberlin, Until the Wheels Fall Off
California, Eastern Sierra
In early August, Becca Pilkerton and I approached Mt. Chamberlin (13,175’) from Cottonwood Pass. After a day of swimming and staring at potential routes, we climbed a mostly new nine-pitch route on the west buttress of Mt. Chamberlin’s northeast face. [The northeast face of Mt. Chamberlin comprises three prominent buttresses (west, central and east) separated by deep clefts.]
We began by climbing an amazing 65m 5.11 pitch in a clean corner just to the right of the first pitch of Innominata (Nettle-Shelton, 2010, see AAJ 2011) on the far right side of the central buttress. Another pitch led us to a large ledge system in the cleft between the central and west buttresses. We headed up and right to reach a recessed headwall on the west buttress. On the left side of this headwall, we laybacked a wide 5.11 crack and then followed easier terrain up and right to intersect Cracked Pepper (Haden-Pennings, 2016, previously unreported). We then quickly exited the large dihedral that defines Cracked Pepper and followed a shallow corner system to the left for three challenging pitches. Easy climbing led to the top of the west buttress, where I enjoyed the last 10 minutes of sunlight while Becca toiled away following in the shade.
We aided three short sections. The first, on pitch five, could easily be freed with better route-finding. Becca followed the second section of aid on pitch seven free and believes it could be led free with some boldness or a few bolts. I followed the third section of aid on pitch eight free and believe the tips laybacking could be led free if a few dangerous blocks were removed.
Our route, Until the Wheels Fall Off (1,100’, IV 5.11 C1), is named in honor of my odometer rolling over to 200,000 on the way to the trailhead. This varied route has some great crack and corner climbing in an incredible location and would likely go all free at 5.12.
– Patrick Longley