Click on the above photos to get a more detailed
description and slide show of each climb.
Temple Crag is a rock climber's paradise, with several of the longest rock routes in the Sierra - all of which require technical proficiency. Our three recommended routes offer exhilarating climbing with spectacular views, good rock, and lots of towers and gendarmes.
The 23-pitch 5.9/10a Sun Ribbon Arête even includes a Tyrolean Traverse.
A little easier at 5.8 and 18 pitches in length, Moon Goddess is a tremendous introduction to technical rockclimbing in a stunning alpine setting.
Venusian Blind Arête is Moon Goddess Arête's 5.7 next-door neighbor, and every bit as good a climb. With only ten or twelve pitches it's a bit less committing than the Moon Goddess but a little more continuous.
Climbing one route on Temple Crag is a two-day trip. We sometimes climb several routes on consecutive days. Our scheduled four-day version of this is called the Temple Crag Classics.
Why not climb them all and compare for yourself?
Day one: We'll meet at the Glacier Lodge, at the end of the Glacier Lodge Rd out of Big Pine. Currently the parking area is about all there is to the lodge as the main building burned down several summers ago. The Lodge burned down a few years ago but plans are to start rebuilding and have it open in a year or so. At present they do have rustic cabins to rent and a small store and spending the night here gives the body time to start acclimatizing to the elevation before the trip starts. After a gear check and introductions we'll head in, taking the rest of the day to reach camp. With moderate loads the walk takes about half the day to camp at Second Lake.
Day two: An early start sees us off for our chosen one of Temple Crag's great classics. From camp it's about 45 minutes hike, mostly on talus but ending with a pitch of 40º snow climbing. We usually take just one ice axe, for the leader, but chop good steps and belay for those who are following. From the top of the snow several hundred feet of easy, but roped, scrambling lead to the start of 5th class climbing on either Moon Goddess or Venusian Blind. Sun Ribbon follows a slightly different approach to the climber's right of the other two routes.
If we are here for only one climb we hope to complete our chosen route by early afternoon, descend to camp, pack up and head out to the roadhead arriving late afternoon to early evening. This is a long day so be prepared for it!
If doing more than one route we relax in camp and watch the sun move across the peaks bring the arete where we just were into stark relief and think back to the great climbing and plan for tomorrow.
The best guidebooks are Supertopo's “High Sierra Climbing” by Chris McNamara. and Peter Croft's “The Good, The Great, and the Awesome”.
Get them from Maximus Press.
You can also get our detailed unpublished SMC Guide to Temple Crag here.
We highly recommend that you spend at least one night at moderate altitude (higher than 8,000') just prior to the trip. Spending a night in Mammoth would do the trick or better yet, camped at an even higher trailhead, such as one of the campgrounds in Big Pine Creek for a night just before the trip. Glacier Lodge is also a good lodging option. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more info.
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