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University Peak??

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Postby wingding » Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:24 pm

Trekker, please don't apologize.

I might be the one who needs to apologize. I was just trying to explain that the North Face to University Peak isn't real difficult class 3, but that's just my opinion. It does have the "steep granite slabs punctuated with large cracks" once you get off the loose crap, but the exposure isn't too bad in that section.

On the other hand, I thought the class 2 chute to University Pass was really scarey because it was so loose. I don't think I'd go over University Pass again unless it was mostly snow covered.

Also, it was a long day for me. It took me at least 12 hours to day hike from the trailhead at Onion Valley and back.

Here's a shot of an area of the steep granite slabs:


Here's when your below that area looking up:


Looking down on the way back down (the loose section I wish I stayed out of:


I got off that loose stuff and onto the snowfield as soon as I could and it was much better after that. I wish I had stayed on the snowfield longer on the way up, but on the way up I went up closer to the ridge.

The snowfield:



Postby wingding » Thu Oct 05, 2006 9:25 pm

Do be careful if it is icy out there.

Postby AfterSeven » Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:09 am

University is a Sierra Classic. Fortunately, it lays out in such a way that any trouble you get in on the north face can be reversed without too much difficulty..... There are no sustained problems and the route is as about as straight forward as they come.

Good Luck and Have Fun
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Postby Trekker » Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:43 am


Thanks for the additional info and the great pics! As it is primarily the people I would be with on the backpack trip that would want to do University, they will be making the decision as to whether to climb or not, as they have much more experience in that than I do. Your info on the route in regards to ice and snow will definitely be taken into account, and I can assure you that I will err on the side of caution and not go any farther than I feel my skills are capable of!

The Whitney post on the MR was started in late June-early July, and was started by an individual who tried it and found it to be extremely risky when it came to negotiating the snow and ice covered passages. This lead to quite a few individuals weighing in, some agreeing, others saying the group hadn't taken the right route, and others saying that it wasn't that difficult and that he was overstating the risk. It ended up being somewhat acrimonious. In the end, I realized that it depends on what your cllimbing comfort and skill level is, and what conditions you are comfortable climbing in, such as snow and/or ice travel. That's why I am always interested in knowing a little about the poster's skill level when describing a route. Your last post has done a nice job of being more descriptive for a novice peakbagger like me! :thumbsup:

Wingding, thanks for your info and pics, as well. This thread has actually ended up giving me encouragement to try this peak, if not this year, then next summer. This is one of the reasons why we have a forum like this; informative discussions. Good stuff. Thanks!:nod:
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Postby wingding » Fri Oct 06, 2006 5:41 am

Trekker - With how short the days are right now and with the chance of it being icy up there, University would be a tough one for me to do. I know some people call it a half-day hike, but it wasn't for me. I've been working on moving faster, so I probably could it in less than 12 hours now, but it certainly wouldn't be a half-day hike for me.

If you're going to camp east of Kearsarge Pass and want to bag a peak then Mount Gould would be a really nice hike. It's a straight-forward hike from Kearsarge Pass over fairly easy terrain.

Postby pcase » Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:54 pm

Hi Trekker,

Sorry to hear about the Mountaineer Route spat....that's unfortunate. With snow and ice that route can be tricky and unpleasant and is no place for beginners...that's for sure. The MR is a man eater and I know of several deaths and badly broken bones in the last 20 years. Seems to me the descent is the usual culprit. All the climbers guides, to a T, mention snow, ice and/or rockfall as things to beware of on the MR....how many other routes do you see consistant warnings of that sort??? Not many...Mt. Ritter comes to mind...and that's about it.

I peeked at some older editions of the Climber's Guide to the High Sierra last night just to see what they had to say about the North Face of University....The 1950's guide states there's a knife edge that leads to the summit with relative ease (paraphrased) and the Roper 1970's guide says class 3 scramble leads to the summit via an inconspicuous route. Which is really not too helpfeul is it? ..just 1 sentence....like 8 - 10 words for the whole route and that's it. When I first climbed it in the pre-Secor days...that's all I had to go on. Frankly it's not inconspicuous.....anybody can see the line fairly easily from Slim Lake or the Lake above...it's not inconspicuous...it's right in front of you!

I also looked through a few copies of Accidents in North American Mountaineering, which I haven't looked at in years. These are issued annually by the American Alpine Club. In the California Section...there always seemed to be more accidents in October in the High Sierra. I didn't do a statistical rundown but snow and ice tended to be the culprits....and btw it took about 30 seconds to find a death on the MR report.....

Based on the last few days, anything you attempt might require crampons and an axe....but I'm guessing your partners, many of the founders of this board, will have a handle on that. Whatever you do, be prepared to travel on steep snow and ice.... unless you are on some south facing cruiser route that you can see is devoid of hazards from the parking lot.

Good luck....take some good pics!
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Postby summitscott » Fri Jan 12, 2007 9:53 pm

I don't want to overstate the difficulty of the ridge traverse or the exposure on that route, but will point out that a fatal fall occurred on that section of the climb in April 1974. This was in winter conditions. In summer the traverse is less dicey, but care should be taken. Only you know your skill level and experience.
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