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: http://kurtwedbergphotography.com/Sierra-Trips/2010-Sierra-Trips/Temple-Crag/12986323_GFhGy#939574119_Y3VRL