Think that the Sierra Nevada is climbed out? We have spent enough time out there to know that this is no where close to the truth and there are many routes that we have had our eyes on for years. So when Matt Compton called a while ago wanting to do some new routes and we were more than happy to oblige.
Matt is taking a year of work and traveling with his wife and young child climbing, biking and having fun so this was a part of a longer time off work and enjoying what we consider to be the “real world” – the Sierra backcountry.
First up was a route on the ‘Springbok’ next to the Impala low down in the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek. This is an obvious slabby formation just above Lower Boy Scout Lake that thousands have walked by heading to Whitney, but the only known route was one done in the early 1970s by who else other than the ubiquitous Fred Beckey. Chris Simmons came along for the climb with SP and Matt and we left the Portal parking lot at about 7.00am
We took an arch and crack system up the center of the face that we had to use some aid on, pulling across on pieces due to a lack of fortitude and skill. The pitches above gave some great 5.9 climbing although the rock became a little more grainy up high. The summit is a small hard to get onto block and one that few, if any, have ever stood on.
Handing the naming duties over to Matt he came up with ‘Adios Yahoo 5.9/A0 which sums up his attitude to the corporate high tech world. We were back to the Portal Store in plenty of time for a burger and beer after a stellar day.
The next day SP and Matt hiked into Dusy Basin over Bishop Pass a little slower and a little sorer than the prior day had started.
The bugs are starting to get bad here so there was plenty of incentive to keep hiking. We set up camp above Dusy Lakes and while we were thinking about a route on the west face of Thunderbolt we settled on a striking arete leading to a northern sub-peak of Winchell.
This route turned out to be very similar to some of the routes on Temple Crag with an airy arete with great rock and some solid cracks and corners. We found a bale out rappel anchor part way up but no other signs of passage so we believe it to be unclimbed previously. This peak really is separate from Winchell and could easily have it’s own name, seeming to be much more of an individual summit than say Polemonium or Starlight to the south.
The descent was a typical exciting Palisades event with deep notches to rappel into and exposed scrambling on ledges around towers to a loose final descent gully.
Once again Matt got the honor of naming and he decided to call it after his daughter, naming it McKenzie’s Arete. Next time she gets to lead him up it but that will have to wait a few more years since she is just to and a half.
Now, Matt gets to pack up and head to Italy with the family for two months. Not too bad and he is setting a great example of how to live life for everyone.