New to rock climbing and taking on the Whaleback, Kings Cany

Topics related to peak bagging, rock climbing and bouldering in the foothills and high country of the Sierra Nevada. Be sure to also check out the Information Booth forum category to learn from / see if you can contribute to a profile for High Sierra 13'ers, 14'ers and cross country passes.
User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Posts: 2947
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: New to rock climbing and taking on the Whaleback, Kings Cany

Post by giantbrookie » Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:04 pm

I certainly agree with Mav, Kathy, and WD regarding the important complexities and safety considerations for Sierran mountaineering and scrambling.

As for climbs to get one accustomed to steep class 2 route finding/class 3 scrambling and exposure, here are a few enjoyable ones I can think of.

1. Mt Conness, particularly if going from Saddlebag lake over the top of 11239. If done correctly, using the S. side of the E. ridge this is pretty much all class 2, with the famed and somewhat exposed "engineered" final knife edge moves. This involves fairly open (good line-of-sight) route finding to pick some nice benches on the S. side of the E. ridge, then surmount the top to to join the crest (rated 3rd class in some books, but really just steep 2nd). The summit moves at the head of the S. ridge are fairly obvious owing to the engineering of the trail and the fact that there is really no other way to do it without it becoming truly technical. It is here that many beginners find out what their tolerance (or lack of tolerance) to exposure is all about. I have seen some folks turn around at the base of the knife edge section. All in all, I think this is a really fun easy mountaineering route on a really attractive mountain. The other positive here, is that there are no real "preliminaries" one is nearly scrambling right out of the car up the side of 11239 above Saddlebag (easier and more fun to do this than sidehill around it to save elevation loss, in my opinion).

2. Tower Peak. This is a truly beautiful mountain that can be seen from everywhere and has a nice rugged appearance. The only drawback here is that is a fairly long hike to the start of the standard route from the pass to the north of the peak (from Tower Lake). From a distance, the route looks very steep and worse than class 3, but when you get into the gully you find that the ledges are really wide and that this is really a very steep class 2 climb rather than class 3.

3. I agree with WD's pick of Agassiz. It's a beautiful peak with an exceptional view. It is class 2, but you have some choices in terms of doing some low 3rd on spurs to avoid loose rocks on the ascent versus choosing to stay in the looser class 2 chutes to aid your descent. This is good practice for beginning route finding strategy.


Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;






User avatar
lahai1dj
Topix Novice
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Jun 19, 2011 3:27 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: New to rock climbing and taking on the Whaleback, Kings Cany

Post by lahai1dj » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:03 pm

Thanks WD and Giant Brookie,

Judging from this new information I'm going to plan on doing an early season climb of Mount Agassiz. I found a few trip reports from June but I didn't find any indication of special equipment necessary to deal with snow at that time.

Any idea what the earliest month for a climb would be? Thanks!
David

"solitude is the school of genius" --Edward Gibbon

User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Posts: 2947
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: New to rock climbing and taking on the Whaleback, Kings Cany

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:25 pm

I would presume you don't want the complication of steep snow in any of the gullies, so you should probably wait (at least) until late June. I realize this is a NW slope rather than N or NE, but it may hold some snow in the gullies well into June, I suspect, but I've never been there that early in the season.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
markskor
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Founding Member & Forums Administrator
Posts: 2400
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:41 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Mammoth Lakes and Tuolumne Meadows

Re: New to rock climbing and taking on the Whaleback, Kings Cany

Post by markskor » Tue Mar 20, 2012 1:46 pm

giantbrookie wrote:I would presume you don't want the complication of steep snow in any of the gullies, so you should probably wait (at least) until late June...It may hold some snow in the gullies well into June, I suspect,
Just finished reading Blehm's The Last Season - now, more than ever, very much aware of the dangers of snow bridges over hidden gullies.
BTW, great read!
Mountainman who swims with trout

User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 10644
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: New to rock climbing and taking on the Whaleback, Kings Cany

Post by maverick » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:05 pm

Would highly recommend that you not try any peak climbing in the spring with out
gaining a solid foundation in snow travel. Knowledge in self arrest, using an ice axe, and
being proficient at assessing the terrain (snow bridges, avalanche danger, ect..) should
all be acquired before taking on such endeavors, and not left up to chance or winging it.
Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
Posts: 587
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: New to rock climbing and taking on the Whaleback, Kings Cany

Post by Mike M. » Sat Mar 31, 2012 5:53 pm

Start with class 2 scrambles, then take on a few routes with sections of class 3 expossure to see how comfortable you are. Will you be doing this alone or with a partner?

It might be best to invest some time this summer to getting to know your comfort with class 2 and 3 routes, then take on The Whaleback next year. In the general area surrounding The Whaleback, there are many fine peaks that are class 2. Triple Divide Peak, at the head of Cloud Canyon, is one. (Some of the best views of The Whaleback can be had from the head of Cloud Canyon.) Another fine class 2 peak in the area is Mt. Brewer. The Whaleback is much more difficult to climb than either of these two peaks.

Mike

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests