University Peak via University Pass

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giantbrookie
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University Pk: N. Face (Clyde) vs N Face/NW ridge (Wakabayas

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:39 pm

Here is a bit of a clarification of the difference between the class 3 N. Face Norman Clyde route, as described in Secor vs the class 2 N. Face/NW ridge route described by me in Corrections to Secor on Climber.org:
Both routes have the same starting point at Bench Lake, but diverge markedly beyond lakelet 11360+. The traditional N Face route listed in Secor is well east of my route and in fact is described as finishing E of the summit on the NE ridge, whereas my route hits the crest of the NW ridge well west of the summit at an elevation of 12800 or a bit higher.
Note the key difference is embodied in the following description in Secor (2nd ed. p.142)
"Continue up scree and talus on the LEFT side of the north face to the summit ridge. A short traverse along the NORTHERN side of the summit ridge leads to the summit block." (my emphasis added). Those are the key statements. Left side of face is read as left as you are climbing. This means the eastern side of the north face which the opposite side of the face that my route goes up. The northern side of the upper NW ridge is the last place you'd want to finish a non-technical climb as it is really vertical. In contrast there must be benches that allow a non technical finish on top of the north side of the NE ridge. The NW ridge difficulties are passed on the SOUTHERN side.

A few additional notes about the N Face/NW Ridge route: What this route amounts to is an Onion Valley approach to the "northwest side" route in Secor, including the Starr variation of the "northwest side" which is the NW ridge accessed from Kearsarge Lake. The key is that the northwest side route listed in Secor and the Starr variation (NW ridge) are described as per an approach from Kearsarge Lakes which is not at all convenient for someone wishing to dayhike University from Onion Valley. I think the Onion Valley approach to the NW ridge qualifies as its own route owing to the fact that it doesn't connect with the NW ridge until you're at an elevation of ≥12800 feet at which point one has completed most of the climb.

A bit of additional historical perspective:
Secor describes the Norman Clyde N Face route in detail, whereas the Roper (1976) guide reads "North Face. Class 3 via an inconspicuous route." Now that's old school, which is why old school peak baggers were accustomed to working out their own routes.

Voge/Smakto (1972) describes the N. Face route as follows which additionally emphasizes how different it is from my route:
"Route 3. North Face. About class 3. First known ascent by Norman Clyde, prior to 1928. From the group of lakes at the northern base, at about 10500 feet (Slim Lake) climb up a steep, rocky slope, several thousand feet in length, to the EASTERN end of a knife edge which can be followed to the summit with comparative ease." Note that the Secor description would also put the finish point on the eastern end of a knife edge instead of west of the summit as per my route.

Note that Roper (1976) listed the northwest side as Route 1.
"Route 1. Northwest side. Class 2. From the upper Kearsarge Lake proceed southeast and climb to the low gap west of the peak. Next, either climb the west ridge to the summit (class 2-3) or walk around a bit onto the easier southwest slope." You can see that the Roper description covers the northwest side as well as it's Starr variation.

In fact the description of the NW side route is also listed as route 1 in the 1972 Voge/Smatko edition presumably because this was the first ascent route (same reason it's route no.1 in Roper) and the description is similar to that in Roper but with a bit more detail. This description was very important to me as I planned the N Face/NW ridge route from Mt Gould in the early 70's because I had seen what the south side looked like and part of the NW ridge was sharp crested enough so that I didn't know whether it was a difficult knife edge or not. Accordingly, knowing that a route could be finished class 2-3 via the NW ridge or class 2 if one bailed southward was what I needed because I could see from Mt. Gould that it would go all class 2 up to the crest of the NW ridge at ~12800 but I couldn't see beyond that.

Anyhow, I hope this all is helpful to peak baggers wishing a quick hike to University from Onion Valley. I hope this clarifies any confusion about the difference between the N Face/NW side/ridge route and the North Face route listed in various guidebooks.


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;






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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by KathyW » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:05 pm

seems kind of like splitting hairs

It's just a matter of which side of the summit you're on when you hit the ridge south of Lake 11360, but I'm sure I'm missing something in the description - not that unusual for me to not get it. Is the reasoning to hit the summit ridge west of the summit to stay more on the Class 2 and avoid the nice solid Class 3 on the easterly side?

Oh well, Class 2 chutes in the Sierra are typically loose slogs - it's always a pleasant surprise when they are not. Lots of loose crap except when covered with snow.

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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by BrianF » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:43 pm

Here is a pic of University from Bench lake this May. The north Face route can be seen sloping up from the lower right of the face to Left of the summit. GB, is your route up the wide chute with a broad snow bowl at the top that is well right of the summit or up the more broken chute closer to the summit?
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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:33 pm

BrianF wrote:Here is a pic of University from Bench lake this May. The north Face route can be seen sloping up from the lower right of the face to Left of the summit. GB, is your route up the wide chute with a broad snow bowl at the top that is well right of the summit or up the more broken chute closer to the summit?
Hi Brian,

The route I went up is the lower chute with the broad snow at the top. From here (Bench L) the view is pretty oblique but the separation at the top is quite clear.

Sorry I don't have an image handy I can electronically annotate on. My dad made a big black and white print of University from Mt Gould and that would be the best one for me to use (although I'd have to use a bigger scanner than the one I have). He was very serious about photography and made the prints in his home darkroom. The big print from the north was part of the planning process when I thought up the trip in 1976 My dad had given me the route finding and trip planning duties from 1973 onward.
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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by BrianF » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:50 pm

Here is the view from Mt Gould. I can see that the route on the south side of the ridge looks pretty straightforward. Thanks for the route info!
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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:59 pm

BrianF wrote:Here is the view from Mt Gould. I can see that the route on the south side of the ridge looks pretty straightforward. Thanks for the route info!
Nifty photo. Thanks for posting it. Yes, that shows the route very clearly.

That is a very nice photo to get peak baggers excited: Tyndall and Junction Peak look mighty nice in the photo, too.
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;

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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by cthenn » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:30 am

Hi, I just wanted to add to the discussion that the North Face standard route is not technically difficult, even for "weekend warriors" like me who aren't the best at route finding. The thing to remember when climbing the North Face is when you get to the end of the rib (about 600' below the summit), go as far to the climber's left as possible. The very steep slabs that punctuate the middle of the North Face are much shorter and easier to climb at the far left end of this face. I'd say it was about 20' of steep (but easy) class 3. The most difficult route finding problem I had was at the end of the rib, there are drop offs on either side, and you have to climb through a window in huge talus to get to this final 20' climb up to the ridge (I'm not talking about the window on the final ridge traverse, this is down lower). This route was marked with cairns, but even without them, eventually you will see the way (unless you want to go class 4). I'm not super comfortable with exposure, but I never felt uncomfortable on any of the route, though some of the drop offs on the final ridge traverse were exciting!

Not trying to hijack the thread, but just wanted to let it be known that the standard North Face route really isn't that bad. And besides, you get the payoff of Center Basin when you get to the top, a fantastic reward!

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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:46 pm

cthenn wrote:Not trying to hijack the thread, but just wanted to let it be known that the standard North Face route really isn't that bad. And besides, you get the payoff of Center Basin when you get to the top, a fantastic reward!
Cthenn, Thanks for your post. Your post is totally relevant to this thread in fact, which is essentially about the best day-hike route options up University. Accordingly details regarding the level of difficulty on the standard North Face route will be very useful for readers.
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;

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Re: University Peak via University Pass

Post by Sebastian_A_K » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:24 am

I found this old thread while researching university pass. Now that I've been over it also in summer I would say it's no worse than most high passes rated class 2. Some steep loose stuff, not overly so. The talus at the base does make for slow progress, but even so we hauled very full packs into center basin starting from Onion valley at 11:30 in September. And I'm not 26 anymore...

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