Temple Crag Classics

One of our favorite things to do in the mountains is to set up a comfortable camp and to climb as much as we can from there. We invite you to join us for four days of fine alpine cragging in the Palisades area. We’ll place camp above Third Lake, in the shadow of the alpine rock climbers paradise – Temple Crag. From here our options include the Celestial Arêtes on Temple Crag, Mount Robinson arêtes, and many more. These four days will be filled with as much climbing as you can handle and will certainly be a “dream trip” for the rock aficionado. Any of these routes are also offered individually as a custom trip. Just contact us for availability.

The 23-pitch 5.9/10a Sun Ribbon Arête includes a Tyrolean Traverse and makes for a long climbing day.

A little easier at 5.8 and 18 pitches in length, Moon Goddess Arête is a tremendous introduction to technical rock climbing in a stunning alpine setting.

Venusian Blind Arête is one of the farthest left on Temple crag and, at 5.7, is every bit as good a climb as the others. With only ten or twelve pitches it is less committing than Moon Goddess but a little more continuous.

The arêtes on Mt. Robinson offer another alpine adventure with mostly 4th class climbing with sections of 5th class. These can be a good warm up for a more sustained route on Temple Crag. Why not climb them all and compare for yourself?


high-sierra-climbing-super-topo good-great-awesomeThe 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You can also get our unpublished guide to Temple Crag here.

Since our camp will be around 10,000’ 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 work, but this means a long drive to the trailhead; it may be easier to camp at a 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 and is at the end of road close by. Please refer to our Planning for Success info sheet for more information.

Click on the below photos to get a more detailed description of each climb.

sun_ribbon temple crag

Sun Ribbon

venusian temple crag



Moon Goddess








Return to Summer Programs

Day 1

After a gear check and introductions we’ll hike in, taking the rest of the day to reach camp. The approach will take around half of the day, allowing for time to prepare for the climbing days at camp. We have several options for our camp location, which will depend on weather, the season and availability. But the closer to the base of the routes the better since it lessens the morning commute to the climbs.
Approximate Distance: 5 miles, 2550 feet of gain, 100 feet of loss (dependent on camp location)

Day 2

An early start sees us off for either a warm-up route or one of Temple Crag’s classics. Our targets are any of the Celestial
Arêtes: Venusian Blind 5.7, Moon Goddess 5.8, or Sun Ribbon 5.9/10a. From camp it’s a short but steep hike, mostly on talus but ending with some early season snow climbing to the base of the routes. 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 both Moon Goddess and Venusian Blind. Sun Ribbon follows a slightly different approach climber’s right of the other two routes. All of these routes descend of the east side of Temple Crag into Contact Pass and back to camp.

Days 3

We can climb another one of the routes.

Day 4

We have the option to climb more on the last day, depending upon how tired everyone is. In the morning or after a climb, we will pack up camp and hike out to the vehicles. Our arrival at the vehicles is dependent on whether or not we climb the last day.

Program Prerequisites:

You need to be able to follow at the 5.7 to 5.9 level, have experience on multi-pitch routes and be familiar with belaying and rope work. Prior mountain camping experience is recommended as is experience at altitudes above 11,000’. This is a physically demanding trip and you should be in good condition and have the ability to traverse broken and uneven slopes with a moderately heavy pack.

Program Inclusions:

Price includes guiding, permits, group climbing gear, tents, kitchen gear, breakfasts, lunches and dinners (you bring hot/cold drinks and snack items). Scheduled dates include USFS trail fees. Private programs do not.

Local accommodation is not included.

Please Read before you go

We feel the following information is essential... (links open as PDF in new window)

  1. Details, itinerary, and equipment list for your trip
  2. SMC Cancellation Policy
  3. Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
  4. Tips on physical training for your trip
  5. LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environment.

PDF Maps:

Temple Crag map

Rental Equipment:

Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.