Lone Pine Peak, New Route and First Free Ascents
California, Eastern Sierra
Ever since Roger Putnam and I started to work on a complete guide to the High Sierra, I became increasingly interested in finding obscure gems around the range. Lone Pine Peak is an often-overlooked giant that has a huge south face and countless buttresses. In May and June of 2018, I had an opportunity to make three trips to check out the climbing on Lone Pine.
On the first trip, Jeremy Ross and I were able to make the first free ascent of Pathways Through to Space (V 5.10 A1, AAJ 2005) in a day. [Pathways is a long direct start into Windhorse (V 5.11, freed in 2012, AAJ 2000).] We found a variety of nice, mostly wide cracks, which slowed progress, including the large roof traverse on pitch five of Pathways that we freed at 5.11a. The wall was as big as advertised, too, with close to 3,000’ of rock climbing. I believe this was the first time either Pathways or the original Windhorse had been climbed in a day.
I believe this was the first time either Pathways or the original Windhorse had been climbed in a day. The first ascent of Pathways required several days and nights on the wall, and the first ascent and FFA of Windhorse both took several days and required portaledges. In the early spring, the days are not as long as we one would want for such a long route, yet we were able to top out at last light after a 7 a.m. start from the parking lot.
A few weeks later, I returned with Chaz Langlier to have a crack at a prominent arête on the east flank of Lone Pine. It is located immediately north of the Three Arrows (AAJ 1977). Looking at this obvious ridgeline from Lone Pine and having heard of Myles Moser and Amy Ness finding proof of earlier ascents on some of the climbs they expected to be firsts, I expected to find some proof of previous passage and discover a gem from the past. However, Chaz and I found neither.
The route had plenty of spicy climbing, with several long runouts on crunchy rock. Because we did not bring a drill, we did not place any bolts, although they would be appropriate in multiple places. There were several great pitches, yet I do not see this one becoming very popular in the future. The crux near the top was an awesome finger crack followed by an overhanging hand crack, then a pitch of easier climbing on the crest. We continued to the high point of the ridge and did two rappels from a notch below the summit with two 60m ropes. We then hiked down the gully on the south side of the Three Arrows before hiking back north and over that ridgeline to retrieve a pack we had left at the base. We dubbed the route the Arrowhead (ca 2,000’, IV/V 5.11b/c).
My last trip to Lone Pine was in early June with Derek Field. We wanted to check out Streets of the Mountains (IV 5.10 A1), which takes a large corner system on the south face, just up the hill and around the corner from Windhorse. This route was not as good as the Pathways to Windhorse link-up, yet it was still a good adventure. We were able to free climb the line by staying in the main corner system for the whole climb. Wide fist jams to ring locks through a prominent overhang at the top of the corner system was the free crux, at approximately 5.10d or 5.11a. There were some really good pitches on this route, yet the wide pitch below the crux had decomposing rock and really took away from the experience. There are likely better variations around the corner to the right.
– Vitaliy Musiyenko