A New Alpine Rock Route on Mt. Emerson
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October 29, 2007
First off, we should all admit that the Eastern Sierra is the most accessible and climbing friendly alpine terrain on Earth, with perfect granite that seems to grow like fireweed and very little rain in the climbing season. For that reason, all claims of first ascents on major peaks below a grade of 5.11 should be taken with a degree of skepticism.
We know that Smoke Blanchard and his contemporaries spent time climbing the granite walls of Paiute Canyon from the 1940's through the 1970's. In the bygone era of the Palisade School of Mountaineering there were likely forays by guides and clients to this divinely accessible day climbing mecca of granite, and since then, many savvy Eastside locals have put Mt. Emerson on the short list of Sierra alpine climbs easily accessible in a day from the trailhead. The Southeast Face route as written up by RJ Secor has quickly become a favorite, boasting nearly 3,000 feet of enjoyable adventure climbing up to 5.4.
On the 29th of October, SMG guides Howie Schwartz and Trevor Hobbs discovered a new line on the Southeast Face of Mt. Emerson by simply wandering up to the face and climbing whatever they felt like. The climb was a celebration of Trevor's new puppy and his new guiding life as no longer an owner of SMG. (Don't worry Trevor fans, he is still one of our senior guides, but on a limited basis so you have to book early). The route starts several hundred feet to the left of the normal SE Face route and just right of an obvious lower angled face. It goes up a series of steeper-than-they-look corners and cracks for 3 pitches of 5.9 and 5.10 climbing to a very large 2nd class ledge. The route then goes right on the ledge to the crest of an obvious pyramid shaped spire. The crest of the spire goes at 5.9-5.10 for 4 airy pitches and has the best climbing on the route. From there, it follows the crest of the arete (4th class), and eventually joins with the normal route on the final summit ridge.
This quality route on a most aesthetic line was done onsight and in pure alpine style. If you know for a fact that this was not a first ascent please feel free to let us know so we can set the record straight. We feel that it is unlikely that this route was climbed before and there was no evidence whatsoever of another climber's passage (like, no chalk or nothin').
So for now, we celebrate another worthy day outing on the Southeast Face of Mt. Emerson! The route is still unnamed but the two top contenders are: Mr. Magoo's Wild Ride or The Central Pillar of the Southeast Face of Mt. Emerson. Any votes? It is rated III, 5.10.
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