Category: Palisades

Why Climb Mountains

Why Climb Mountains

SMI Founder Kurt Wedberg shares some thoughts on why he’s so passionate about climbing mountains

Why climb mountains? Amid all the hardships COVID brought to our lives, the pandemic of 2020 offered the opportunity for many folks to discover mountaineering.  For the first time people are learning benefits that generations of outdoor lovers have known for decades.  A few of those priceless lessons include invaluable benefits for physical, mental, and spiritual health.  It’s also a great way to make meaningful friendships, and see first hand the importance of protecting our environment. Furthermore, it teaches lessons that can be applied to everyday life.

Mountaineering for physical health

Mountaineering requires a general level of endurance and strength.  The cardiovascular and muscular systems are strengthened over time.  Getting into a regular routine increases energy and stamina.  This in turn adds to the enjoyment and expands opportunities for new and bigger adventures; all while gaining improved health!

Kurt Wedberg on the crater rim of El Pico de Orizaba (18410’/5611m), Mexico. The reward for training is experiencing remote and stunning views such as this one high above the Mexican countryside on top of the highest volcano in North America.

Why Climb Mountains: Healthy Diet

There’s nothing like partaking in endurance activities to motivate a good diet.  The human body needs food full of nutrients to function well.  Meal planning is critical.  Unhealthy food will not provide the fuel necessary for long summit days.  Mountaineering creates a great opportunity to explore new foods and develop habits that can be used in everyday life.

Fresh food for fuel. The author’s fuel for a typical Sierra summit day.
Bottom row: dried mango, spicy seeds, cheese, and oranges.
Middle row: assorted nuts, smoked oysters, and avocado.
Top row: jerky, hard boiled eggs, organic energy blocks, and vials of salt & vinaigrette.

Mountaineering for Mental Health

Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.  As you increase endurance and strength you’re also gaining many benefits for mental health.  Studies show exercising leads to increased energy during the day, better sleep, and sharper memories.  It can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety, can help to relive stress, and boost your overall mood.  It releases endorphins in the brain that energize spirits and promote feelings of calm and well-being.  All of this is happening while you’re enjoying majestic and stunning views in the great outdoors!

Mt. Whitney Summit!
SMI founder Kurt Wedberg experiencing the euphoria of topping out with another satisfied guest on Mt. Whitney’s famous Mountaineers Route at sunrise!

Mountaineering for Spiritual Health

As a professional mountain guide for 34 years I’m asked why climb mountains all the time.  There are many reasons such as those mentioned in this article.  But, there are others that are difficult to express in words, but are also some of the most powerful.  There is something deeply spiritual about removing yourself from the daily routine of life and immersing in the beauty of nature.  You provide yourself the opportunity to view life from a different perspective.  Situations that may have appeared as big problems transform into smaller issues amid the majesty of the mountains.  When returning to your normal routine this spiritual cleansing helps make everything else more manageable.

Mountaineering for Spiritual Health
Kurt Wedberg on the summit of Kilimanjaro seeing the sunrise high over the African plains.

Along with the positive health gains, mountaineering provides several other benefits that enhance your life in remarkably purposeful and worthwhile ways.

Meaningful Lifelong Friendships

For climbers the mountains are an endless supply of pleasure and satisfaction.  Mountaineers retain vitality and an enthusiastic elation for life.  They’re keenly aware their experiences can never be replicated in a man-made setting.  When climbers tie into a rope together something symbolic occurs that runs far deeper than the practicality of immediate safety.  They are trusting each other with their lives and well-being. This creates a bond of friendship that cannot be duplicated in any other way.  Sharing these rich adventures leads to unique lasting friendships.

Tristan & Kurt summit Devils Crag
Tristan Sieleman & Kurt Wedberg on the summit of Devils Crag deep in the Sierra Nevada.

Why climb mountains? It gives new appreciation for our environment

There is nothing like seeing firsthand a pristine vista to bring a new appreciation for our wild remote lands.  John Muir founded the Sierra Club for this very reason.  He knew if he could offer outings that create opportunities for people to see our wilderness they’ll actively help to preserve it.  Today professional guide services offer expanded resources to experience high and remote places and to learn new skills that help broaden the possibilities available.

High on Crystal Crag
Climbing high in remote places offers a profound and unique perspective on the importance of protecting our environment.

Mountaineering teaches patience and persistence while building self esteem

Summit days are long stretching anywhere from 8 – 16 hours.  Mountaineering builds patience and persistence because it requires mental and physical stamina.  When looking at a big mountain it can appear overwhelming thinking about how to climb it.  However, it’s important to divide a mountain into small manageable chunks that can be ticked off one at a time in succession.  As an analogy, when you’re served a large plate of food you don’t eat it in one bite. It is consumed in manageable bite sized mouthfuls.  In the same way, when climbing a mountain, maintaining patience and persistence are essential. Climbs are successful by taking one step at a time and one section at a time.  Accomplishing this task is a huge boost to confidence and self-esteem.

Mountaineering teaches patience and persistence while building self esteem
The experiences shared on climbs, such as this well earned summit photo from a winter ascent of Mt. Whitney (14505’/4421m), with like minded people can lead to many life long friendships.

Kurt Wedberg has been a professional mountain guide for 34 years and is the founder of Sierra Mountaineering International, Inc. Based in Bishop, CA they offer mountaineering guiding and instruction in the Sierra and on high peaks worldwide.

SMI Guides are back in action!

Mt. Whitney Summit!

SMI guides are ecstatic to be back guiding trips in the Sierra! We have spent this spring during the pandemic staying in shape, keeping sharp with our skills, and honing our craft. With things starting to open up again we are ecstatic to be once again outside sharing adventures in the Sierra Nevada with our guests.

The Sierra Nevada is our home, our back yard, and our favorite mountain range in the world. The possibilities for adventure and solitude are endless. Try ticking off some of our California 14ers on our Palisades trips, or the exhilaration from one of our classic alpine rock climbs. Learn to transfer your indoor climbing skills to the outdoor realm on one of our rock climbing programs, or discover pristine destinations in the Sierra Nevada through one of our customized backpacking trips! Whatever your desire the Sierra Nevada has it all!

During the month of July join any SMI trip in 2020 and receive a free custom SMI UPF 50+ Buff!

Thunderbolt Peak to Starlight Traverse September 24-26, 2010

On September 24-26, 2010 Brian Corrigan and Erik Peterson joined Kurt Wedberg for a climb of a couple classic 14ers in the Palisades region of the Sierra.  Here in the Sierra we were treated to summer temperatures over 10 degrees above normal for this time of year.  On September 24 we hiked over Bishop Pass and camped in Palisade Basin.  On day 2 we got a pre dawn start climbing Southwest Chute #1 on Thunderbolt Peak.  After reaching the summit we traversed south along the crest of the Palisades towards Starlight Peak.  After climbing Starlight we descended back to Palisade Basin for a nice dinner before going to sleep.  On day 3 we retraced out steps hiking back over Bishop Pass to the parking lot at South Lake.

The Palisades from Palisade Basin. Thunderbolt Peak is just out of view on the left. Starlight and North Palisade Peak are above.

Left to right: Kurt Wedberg, Erik Peterson, Brian Corrigan

Brian and Erik taking a break at Bishop Pass (11,972', 3694m).

Kurt climbing the summit block on Thunderbolt Peak.

Brian on top of Thunderbolt Peak's summit block.

Erik atop Thunderbolt Peak.

From the summit of Thunderbolt Peak looking along the Palisade Crest towards Starlight Peak.

Brian atop Starlight Peak

Erik surmounting the "milk bottle" that makes up Starlight Peak.

Kurt atop the "milk bottle" on Starlight Peak.

Norman Clyde Peak (13,920′, 4243m) September 16-18, 2010

Demetria Gianopoulos and Tom Sakowych joined Kurt Wedberg for a climb of the NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak.  This peak is named after the legendary Sierra mountaineering pioneer.  Norman Clyde taught school in the Owens Valley and lived in Big Pine creek canyon.  This impressive peak is situated just north of Middle Palisade Peak above the glacier that goes by the same name.  The NNE Face is an enjoyable 3rd /4th class route offering good rock quality and great views of the Palisades.  As one climbs higher views looking north all the way to the Minarets and Boundary Peak are revealed.

On day 1 our approach brought us in to Finger Lake.  A pre dawn start on a warm September night got us to the base of the route shortly after sunrise.  After reaching the summit we returned to Finger Lake.  On day 3 we hiked out.

A few pictures are below.   The rest of the pictures are here:  Norman Clyde Peak September 16-18, 2010.

Norman Clyde Peak in morning light. The NNE Face is on the far right side of the sunlit part of the massif.

From left to right: Demetria Gianopoulos, Kurt Wedberg, Tom Sakowych

The NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak

Demetria at a belay high on the NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak.

Tom climbing one of the 4th class pitches near the top of the NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak.

Demetria enjoying some of the 4th class climbing near the top of the NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak.

From the top of the NNE Face looking south on the ridge line that leads to the summit of Norman Clyde Peak.

Tom and Demetria on the summit of Norman Clyde Peak.

North Palisade Peak to Mt. Sill Traverse August 23, 2010

After returning to Bishop from a successful ascent of Middle Palisade Peak Ed and Lori took a couple rest days then were back on the trail with Kurt Wedberg headed over Bishop Pass to Palisade Basin.  The goal was to climb four “California 14ers”:  Mt. Sill (14,153’/4314m), Polemonium Peak (14,080’/4292m), North Palisade Peak (14,242’/4341m), and Starlight (14,200’/4328m).  These were the last four 14ers Ed had not yet climbed.

Ed and Lori elected to hire the folks at Rainbow Pack Outfitters to help haul our gear up to Bishop Pass (11,972’/3649m).  This would allow us to carry a light daypack over the 6 mile / 2300’+ distance.  We met at the Rainbow Pack Outfitters headquarters 1.2 miles / 1.9 km below the South Lake Trailhead for a hearty breakfast then we were off to the trailhead to begin our trek on August 20.

Kurt, Ed, and Lori sitting down for a hearty breakfast at the Rainbow Pack Outfitters headquarters.

Weather was clear and warm making for a very enjoyable hike up to Bishop Pass.

Ed, Lori, and Kurt on the Bishop Pass trail.

Ed and Lori enjoying the scenery at Long Lake along the Bishop Pass trail.

Lori, Ed, and Lawrence from Rainbow Pack Outfitters.

Here we put on the big packs and hiked cross country over Thunderbolt Col and down into our camp at Palisade Basin where we met up with another SMI group led by our guide Zach Schneider.  He was with Chad Buelow and John Walsh.  They had just returned from the summit of Thunderbolt Peak (14,003′ / 4286m) and were preparing to climb North Palisade Peak in the morning.  We set up camp, had dinner, and prepared for climbing North Palisade Peak as well.

We got a predawn start on August 21 headed for the LeConte Route on North Palisade Peak.  The day dawned clear and cool as we began ascending the chute leading to the start of the route.  We reached  13,100′ / 3993m where the start of the route is located and took a break to refuel and prepare for the class 3/4 climbing above.  While we took our pause we watched as Zach and John began the traverse across a wide ledge that marks the first moves of this fun route.

John Walsh (left) and SMI guide Zach Schneider on the ledge traverse that marks the start of the LeConte Route on North Palisade Peak.

Ed and Lori then turned to me and indicated they just weren’t feeling ready for climbing this route today.  Those decisions are always difficult to make but all of us as mountaineers have had those gut feelings and it is usually wise to listen to them.  We decided to turn back and return to camp to rest and regroup.  As the day moved in to mid afternoon we spotted Zach and John returning from their successful ascent.

We also noticed an unseasonal chill in the air and clouds building up covering the tops of the peaks.  Bundling up in all our clothing we ate dinner and decided we would look at the weather in the morning to see if a summit attempt would be possible in the morning.  Clouds and cold temperatures remained all night long and were still settled over the mountain tops in the morning so the decision was made to hold off and wait for improving weather.

Clouds covering the Palisades peaks.

We had enough time built into our itinerary to wait and an extra day at our camp at 11,950’/3642m would only add to our acclimatization.  As the morning gave way to afternoon the clouds dissipated and the temperature warmed back up significantly.  Kurt’s altimeter also indicated a solid rise in barometric pressure.  All indications were saying this weather disturbance was passing and favorable conditions were going to prevail.

On August 23 Ed and Kurt left camp wearing headlamps.  Lori elected to stay behind favoring a relaxing day of The goal was to climb North Palisade Peak then traverse south following the ridgeline, rappel into the U Notch Couloir then climb up to the summit of Polemonium Peak.  From there we would continue along the ridgeline to Mt. Sill then return to camp via Potluck Pass.  We accomplished all of this on a warm sunny day that allowed us to wear only short sleeved shirts once we hit the sun.

Ed and Kurt ready for a pre dawn start for the traverse.

After a very rewarding day of climbing three 14ers Ed elected to leave the last remaining  peak on his list for another trip.  Starlight Peak is considered the most difficult of all the California 14ers and he wants to savor that experience all by itself.

We decided to pack up camp and return via Knapsack Pass and camp in Duzy Basin for our last remaining night in the backcountry.  On August 25 we then hiked cross country to the Bishop Pass trail that led us back to the parking lot.  A celebration dinner in Bishop capped off an amazing, fun, and rewarding 6-day trip!

Ed and Lori dedicated these climbs to helping two worthy causes:  Friends of Frankie and the Widows’ and Orphans’ Aid Association.  Friends of Frankie is an organization founded to help out Frankie Shouldice who is a young boy currently suffering from leukemia.  Widows and Orphans Aid Association is a San Francisco based organization founded to help out families that have lost a parent who worked as an officer for the SFPD by providing financial aid and scholarship support.

If you would like to donate to these worthy causes you may do so by sending checks made payable to “Friends of Frankie” or “Widows’ and Orphans’ Aid Association” to:

Officer Ed Saenz

C/o San Francisco Police Dept

301 Eddy St.

San Francisco, CA 94102

Some pictures from our traverse of the Palisades are below.  Ed and Kurt’s photos can be found here:

Ed’s photo gallery

Kurt’s photo gallery

Evening light on the Palisades as seen from our camp.

Ed starting on the fun traverse that marks the start of the LeConte Route on North Palisade Peak.

Kurt leading off to set protection on part of the traverse on the LeConte Route on North Palisade Peak.

Ed enjoying the fun 3rd class climbing at 13,500'/4115m on the LeConte Route on North Palisade Peak.

Ed climbing over the 4th class crux on the LeConte Route of North Palisade Peak.

Ed approaching the final blocks below the summit of North Palisade Peak. With no wind and a warm sun the weather was perfect for climbing that day!

Summit photo on North Palisade Peak. One mountain down, two to go!

View from the summit of North Palisade Peak looking at the Palisade Glacier, 2nd and 3rd Lake below, and Mt. Sill on the far right.

Ed on the traverse between North Palisade Peak and Polemonium Peak

Our next objective is Polemonium Peak.

Ed on the final pitch below the summit of Polemonium Peak.

Summit photo on Polemonium Peak. Two down and one to go!

The summit register box on Polemonium Peak.

Mt. Sill from the summit of Polemonium Peak.

Ed traversing off of Polemonium Peak that leads towards the easier ground heading towards Mt. Sill.

An easy ridge traverse leading to Mt. Sill's summit.

Ed on the final steps to the summit of Mt. Sill.

Summit photo on Mt. Sill!

Mt. Sill's summit register box.

Wednesday night celebration dinner at Whiskey Creek in Bishop. From left to right: Ed Saenz, Lori Nissin, John Wedberg, Trish Wedberg, and Kurt Wedberg

Middle Palisade Peak August 11, 2010

Middle Palisade Peak (14,012′, 4271m) is located along the crest of the Sierra.  It is the center peak of an impressive ridgeline that includes seven California 14ers.  The NE Face rises above the Middle Palisade glacier and offers an enjoyable 3rd class climb on good quality rock.

Avery Wear joined Kurt Wedberg for a climb of Middle Palisade Peak.  Getting a predawn start from the parking lot the sun rose during our approach and lit up “Middle Pal” in a beautiful orange morning glow and reminded us once again why the Sierra is nicknamed the Range of Light.

Middle Palisade Peak is the high point left of center.

Passing by Brainard and Finger Lakes the terrain consists of boulder hopping as the landscape opens up and provides views of the entire area.  We then cross south under the toe of the Middle Palisade Glacier then ascend a moraine that splits the glacier in two and leads directly to the start of the route.  From here we cross the glacier and ascend a ramp that leads to over 800 feet of 3rd class climbing that bring us to the top of the peak.  Middle Palisade Peak features a summit block and barely enough room for a handful of people to sit comfortably.

Reaching the summit at lunchtime we enjoyed a beautiful 360 degree clear view of the Sierra before our descent reaching the parking lot mid afternoon.

Here are a few pictures.  The rest are here: Middle Palisade Peak August 11, 2010.

"Middle Pal" and the Middle Palisade Glacier.

Looking up at the NE Face of Middle Palisade Peak from the moraine.

Avery high on the NE Face of Middle Palisade Peak.

Avery making some of the final moves below the summit.

Avery on the summit block that sits atop Middle Palisade Peak

Kurt and Avery pose for a summit photo.

Thanks Avery for a great climb!!

Temple Crag’s Moon Goddess Arête, July 17-18, 2010

Temple Crag from 2nd Lake

Temple Crag at 12,999′, 3962m is located in the Palisades region of the Sierra.  It rises up directly south of 3rd Lake.  Temple Crag’s east face features four prominent arêtes of varying lengths and difficulty.  The Moon Goddess Arête is a grade IV, 5.8 climb that is 15 pitches in length.  The climbing is exhilarating and exposed.  The route mostly stays on the ridge but a couple times it traverses out right off the ridge to the north side.  The route also includes one rappel and some fun ridge traversing as well.

Thunderstorms had dominated the weather in the Sierra for the past week.  With weather like this it would not be advisable to attempt a long and exposed route such as this.  The forecast was finally calling for a change over the weekend of July 17-18 offering an opportunity to give this route a try.  Alexandra Few and Kurt Wedberg teamed up to give it a go.

The approach is via the North Fork of Big Pine Creek.  Ascending past the first waterfall into sparsely forested pine trees the terrain revealed wildflowers in full bloom.  The above average winter coupled with a late melt off has left the creeks rushing at full capacity.  The flora everywhere is fresh and green.  Setting up camp at 2nd Lake we took time to relax, take a quick swim in the lake, organize our gear, and have dinner before hitting the sack early in preparation for a pre dawn start.

Temperatures remained mild and the sky was clear as we set off by headlamp arriving at the base of the route shortly after daybreak.  The climbing begins with several pitches of mostly 4th class with a few 5th class moves.  This brought us to the base of the first tower.  About 40 feet below the top of the tower we moved right on a wildly exposed traverse that ascended up 5.7 terrain.  This led us to a short 20 foot down climb to a large ledge.  We then climbed up a couple pitches of mid 5th class to the base of the second tower known as the Ibrium Tower.  Here the route traverses right again on a 4th class ledge.  On the right side of the face we set a belay anchor then did a long pitch of close to 60 meters to a notch at the west side of the Ibrium Tower then continued to climb past a huge flat rock that is suspended over this notch.  We were now 12 pitches into the route.  Ahead of us we had a couple fun traverses along the ridge as the arête began to flatten out.  Mixed into these last three pitches were sections of climbing that reached to 5.8.

Topping out on the route we took a break to eat and drink while we sorted gear then descended back to Contact Pass where one 25+ meter rappel brought us to soft snow slopes that made for quick boot skiing.  This turned into boulder hopping and talus that led to 2nd Lake and our camp.  We packed up and headed out getting  back to the car and Bishop before dark.

Here are a few highlights of the trip.  The rest of the pictures are here:

The East Face of Temple Crag. The Moon Goddess Arête rises immediately to the left of the snow.

Alex geared up and ready for the pre dawn approach.

Climbing blocky sections below the "First Tower"

Alex getting ready to traverse down past the First Tower with 1st and 2nd Lake below

Climbing towards Ibrium Tower

Traversing across the North side of the Arete below Ibrium Tower

Alex topping out on the North Face just beyond Ibrium Tower

Alex grabbing gear at a good stance as she starts up Pitch #12 en route to ridge traversing above.

Traversing on pitch 13

Alex finishing off the last 5.7 moves at the top of the route.

Alex Few and Kurt Wedberg at the top of the Moon Goddess Arête

Mt. Sill May 14-17, 2010

On May 14 Kurt Wedberg met Bill Simon and Dana Emberson for a climb of Mt. Sill. Clear warm sunny weather greeted us on this trip. We were also surprised that we never crossed paths with anybody save for a lone hiker 10 minutes from the parking lot on our way out on Monday. The trail is dry to Lon Chaney’s cabin then becomes increasingly patchy snow. Snow is more continuous from the trail fork for Black Lake.

On May 14 we hiked to Third Lake where we set up camp. First and Second Lake were still frozen and Third Lake is about half frozen. It’s outlet is completely covered. We were treated to a beautiful night camped in the trees near Third Lake. On May 15 we donned crampons and ice axes for our climb to high camp near the base of Mt. Gayley at 11,800 feet. We ascended the snow to the right of Temple Crag that offered us a spectacular backdrop to our climb. Snow conditions were excellent with a 6-9″ layer of new snow on top of an older consolidated snowpack. Setting up camp we had some time in the afternoon to relax and enjoy the spectacular views this area is famous for.

On May 16 we woke early and made a pre dawn start for Mt. Sill’s North Couloir. As we passed the base of Mt. Gayley and entered into the basin where the Palisade Glacier lies the snow conditions changed from nice cramponing on firm snow to an unconsolidated pack that would not support our body weight. Our progress slowed as the sun rose and cast an orange glow on many of the surrounding peaks including Polemonium, North Palisade, Starlight, Thunderbolt, Winchell, and Agassiz. This made for a truly exhilarating setting as we slowly made our way to Glacier Notch. Climbing up to Glacier Notch also proved challenging as we encountered a large deposit of faceted depth hoar that required us to retreat and find an alternate route to the notch. Once on Glacier Notch we basked in the sun that was obscured from us until this point. Ascending the North Couloir we again found excellent cramponing on 9-12″ of new snow over a more solid snowpack.

From here the route traverses back into the shade where a couple 3rd class rock pitches lead to the final ridge and the summit. Entering into the shade revealed more weak unconsolidated layers of snow and the decision was made to call this our high point for the climb.

This climb was serving as a training climb for Mt. Elbrus in July. This trip served our purposes well. We employed many mountaineering skills during the four days and our round trip time on summit day was 14 hours offering us the opportunity to test our stamina. This will all come in handy for Mt. Elbrus and many other peaks in the future.

Thanks Bill and Dana for a great four days. A few pictures are below. The rest of the pictures are here:

Dana, Bill, and Kurt saddled up and ready to start our trip.

Dana and Bill at frozen over Second Lake with Temple Crag in the background.

Camp at Third Lake

Bill getting water at Third Lake

Bill and Dana walking next to Third Lake

Bill and Dana at our high camp at 11,800 feet

Dana and Bill geared up and ready for summit day

Traversing the Palisade Glacier. Above left is Mt. Sill. Above right is the U Notch Couloir and North Palisade Peak.

Bill and Dana topping out on Glacier Notch

Bill and Dana high on the North Couloir of Mt. Sill

Dana and Bill enjoying the view at our high point of the climb.

Kurt, Bill, and Dana packed up and ready to descend. Thanks guys for a great trip!

Polemonium Peak via U Notch Couloir, October 10-12, 2009

The U Notch Couloir, like all the gully climbs in the Sierra that don’t melt off, is hard ice during the fall months.  In the spring time Sierra gullies are filled with snow and make for excellent steep snow climbs.  Over the course of the summer many melt freeze cycles turn the snow into ice.  The U Notch had been “set up” for ice climbing back in July.  By October we now had solid ice with a coating of fresh snow from a recent storm that was up to a foot deep in places.  These varied conditions made for a challenging and rewarding climb.

After topping out on the U Notch we turned south to Polemonium Peak.  Named after the famous Sierra flower that only blooms above 12,000′ in the Sierra, Polemonium Peak is one of five 14ers along the crest above the Palisade Glacier.  At the U Notch we took off our crampons for the couple pitches of low 5th class rock climbing that lead to the summit of this very enjoyable climb.

This climb also would mark the final California 14er for Ben to climb.

Here are a few highlights.  The entire photo gallery is here:

The U Notch Couloir in the center skyline rising above the Palisade Glacier

The U Notch Couloir on the right rising above the Palisade Glacier. The left couloir is called the V Notch.

Crossing the bergshrund where the Palisade Glacier separates from the cliff above creating this crevasse.

Crossing the bergshrund where the Palisade Glacier separates from the cliff above creating this crevasse.

Ben climbing on the hard ice on pitch #2

Ben climbing on the hard ice on pitch #2

Ben still looking strong near the top of the U Notch

Ben still looking strong near the top of the U Notch

Ben finishing up the first pitch of low 5th class rock climbing en route to the summit of Polemonium Peak

Ben finishing up the first pitch of low 5th class rock climbing en route to the summit of Polemonium Peak

Ben near the summit of Polemonium Peak with Barrett Lake and the Palisade Basin far below.

Ben near the summit of Polemonium Peak with Barrett Lake and the Palisade Basin far below.

Congratulations Ben on finishing all the California 14ers!!

Congratulations Ben on finishing all the California 14ers!!

Norman Clyde Peak, NNE Face 13,851 feet July 31 – August 1, 2009

Norman Clyde Peak is named after the famous Sierra mountaineering pioneer.  It is located just north of Middle Palisade Peak (14,040′).   It has several high quality routes leading to its lofty summit and has one of the greatest views of any peak in the Sierra.  Because this peak gets overlooked by many mountaineers who focus on the California 14ers Norman Clyde Peak remains a hidden gem and one of the all time classic peaks in the Sierra.  The NNE Face is an intricate 3rd and 4th class ascent requiring good route finding skills and efficient climbing to make good time over its intricate route.

Sunrise of Norman Clyde Peak

Sunrise of Norman Clyde Peak

NNE Ridge of Norman Clyde Peak.  Our route on the NNE Face is on the right side of this ridge.

NNE Ridge of Norman Clyde Peak. Our route on the NNE Face is on the right side of this ridge.

NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak

NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak

NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak

Starting the 4th class on the upper NNE Face of Norman Clyde Peak

Greg high on Norman Clyde Peak

Greg high on Norman Clyde Peak

The summit ridge of Norman Clyde Peak

The summit ridge of Norman Clyde Peak

Greg on the summit ridge of Norman Clyde Peak

Greg on the summit ridge of Norman Clyde Peak

Greg Gerlach on the summit of Norman Clyde Peak on August 1, 2009

Greg Gerlach on the summit of Norman Clyde Peak on August 1, 2009

Kurt Wedberg on the summit of Norman Clyde Peak, August 1, 2009

Kurt Wedberg on the summit of Norman Clyde Peak, August 1, 2009

View of the Palisades looking north from Norman Clyde Peak

View of the Palisades looking north from Norman Clyde Peak