This is the granddaddy of them all: 24 pitches of fun climbing complete with a Tyrolean traverse a third of the way up. In early season we take the snow up to the start or in late season when the snow is hard and icy there is often a gap between snow and rock that we can shimmy up. The challenges start from the beginning with a 5.7 crack and chimney, which can be a cold wake-up. Above the dihedral we scramble on increasingly difficult 3rd class to the notch behind the first tiny tower. Six or so superb pitches on perfect rock lead to the Tyrolean traverse.
It is possible to rap/climb the gap but how often do you get a Tyrolean traverse partway up a climb? Plus it makes for great photos. There is spike of rock across the 20 foot gap that calls for ‘western techniques” and this is where our practice for Bishop’s Mule Days comes in handy. Once the spike is lassoed, we clip in with carabiners and slide across to the safety of a horizontal ridge leading to a 40′ rappel off a tower.
We traverse around the corner and to the big notch at the base of the 11th, crux, pitch. If we have to escape now is the time via a rappel and climb up the adjacent gully. But since we are here to do Sun Ribbon Arête rather than Sun Ribbon Gully we will tackle the crux. This is a 5.9/10a traverse across a steep face out of the notch. But since the belay is straight above the notch, we make it easier by hauling packs. The next pitch is 5.8 and leads to more horizontal ridge climbing. At the 15th pitch there is a rappel, another good escape left into the gully. Otherwise nearly ten short pitches leads to the summit plateau. If this one does not tire you out we are not sure what will!
For all routes we head down towards the South Fork of Big Pine Creek via faint use trails. We climb over a minor blunt ridge towards Mt. Alice and do a short half-rope length rappel into flat, sandy Contact Pass. For the final section back to the base of the routes we may have snow, which actually makes life easier as it avoids a very loose rock glacier (A rock glacier is a core of ice covered by rock and rubble.) But it is still a glacier so it moves, albeit very slowly.
You can learn more by looking at our unpublished guide to Temple Crag here.
This is our video description of what it is like to climb Sun Ribbon Arête