Fall in the Eastern Sierra: Crystral Crag, North Peak’s N. Couloir, Pine Creek, & SE Face of Emerson

On the sunlit edge of Crystal Crag’s North Arete.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, in the mountains it’s all about flexibility.  Seems that’s the theme of my entries here.  “We were greatly rewarded by the flexibility of so and so… blah blah blah.”  But really, it makes a huge difference!  Ask not “how do I climb this mountain?”.  Rather, ask, “what’s the coolest thing to do right now?”  Billy came up for 4 days asking exactly that question.  He had some goals in mind:  big days, adventure, snow, rock, ice, summits.  Pretty good stuff, really.  But as for which routes and peaks we did, he didn’t really care.  The journey is the important part.  Where did that journey take us?  We started with the North Arete of Crystal Crag.  An excellent warm-up and, with the South Ridge descent, is a full-on traverse of a High Sierra peak.
In North Peak’s North Couloir-   Classic neve conditions.

 Next we headed for North Peak’s North Couloir.  A proper mixed climb, this route combines a handful of ice pitches with 3 pitches of quality rock climbing.  Awesome.  Billy came with a climb like this as his main goal.  He’ll be the first to admit that it was awesome, but just one day in almost a week of great days!

Approaching Emerson’s huge SE Face

 Day 3 we went rock climbing in Pine Creek.  Recent and dedicated efforts by some of Bishop’s finest have created some truly classic multi-pitch rock climbs out there.  We tackled “Chips off the Old Block”, a 6 pitch 5.10b.

Day 4 we waffled a bit on plans, debating among our many excellent options.  Weather, access and desires narrowed the choices and soon the SE Face of Emerson rose to the top of the heap.  This is a huge route.  Never “hard”, but constantly technical, Emerson can be a full-day and then some.  Billy came fit, got acclimated, and we crushed the agenda in a noteworthy-for-the-season sunlit car to car effort.  In fact, in civilized fashion, we never left the car before sunrise and never returned after.  

Above the face is some killer ridge-aneering.

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