Ascent of Mount Emerson on 2014-08-16

Climber: sukhyung shin

Date:Saturday, August 16, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Emerson
    Elevation:13204 ft / 4024 m

Ascent Trip Report

Aug 16 Mt Emerson via the South East Face.


Drove up with Chris on Friday night, leaving SD at 8pm (late). We stopped in BLM land near Independence for the night around 1:30am and slept. We randomly ran into a couple of guys in a truck that were looking for a place to stay as well (they said Onion Valley was full), so we let them know that we were on BLM land, and that sleeping there was ok.

In the morning we got up just after 6 and continued on to Bishop.
Gearwise: we had a 30m dynamic rope (~9.8 mm), and 100ft static pullcord(7mm), we also brought a set of Hexcentrics and 5 cams (red link cam, red + yellow camalots and 2 master cams), We brought climbing shoes and real harnesses as well, and of course helmets. I was wearing altra lone peak 1.5 shoes, which i enjoy for their comfort, but were REALLY shredded after this one trip.

We were at North Lake trailhead and on the trail just after 830. Having been on the Piute Pass trail less than a month ago (for Mt Humprhey's), I knew what to expect, it's really nice! We got to the turn off for Emerson's South East face (at the tiny 3rd stream crossing, right as the trail starts going up rock stairs) in about an hour. From here, we headed towards the visible chimney (the start of the route).

(picture here)

At the base of the climb I noticed that there was someone just above us, Yelled "hi" but didn't hear a response. The first pitch was supposed to be the crux of the climb and it was, this was basically the only vertical section. it's roughly 80-100 feet of fairly easy (rated 5.4) facey climbing in a chimney. There are big solid placements for hands and feet if you keep your eyes open. We looked at this from the base and decided to not rope up, but we did put on climbing shoes.

After the first ~100 feet, there's a flattish platform and then more chimney climbing, however it's much less vertical and more slabby. We started moving to our right onto the slab as the chimney area was damp and had a little trickle of water in it. After climbing the next 100-150 feet we ran into the climber from above. I was trailing ~10 feet behind Chris, but i was able to hear a response of "Do you guys have a rope?".

The climber was planning on soloing the route however was experiencing some cramping and needed help bailing. He didn't accept any of our food or beverages, just wanted to be lowered. He did not have a harness or much gear (i think he had had 4 carabiners, but nothing to attach them to). On the platform that we were standing, there was not many good placements (on the route in general actually), But Chris was able to find a spot for a good red camalot and a mastercam, which he backed up with a link cam (on a long extension), while i tied a webbing harness (patient pick off) for the climber. The climber said he was comfortable being lowered, so i did not go with him. We lowered him to the first platform from our anchor by tying our ropes together and passing the knot via using 2 ATCs + a prussik. At this point we were starting to plan to build anchor to lower him the rest of the way when another climber appeared in the chimney. She seemed really confused (and a little unhappy) to see what was going on at first, but the climber explained the situation, and she was really helpful by the time i went down to see what was going on. She explained that she was at the end of her 60m rope just below the platform, so that it wasn't likely we could get him down in one rap with our franken rope, and didn't trust her anchor for lowering. She then belayed up her partner who built an anchor lower in the chimney (on much better placements) and lowered the climber the rest of the way on their 60m rope. Chris and I were really lucky that they showed up when they did, as it allowed us to get back to climbing, without having to build 2 more anchors and lowering him.

We resumed climbing after this, which ended up being about a 2 hour delay. The immediate next sections were mostly in the chimney, but it eventually flattened out and was a lot more of a scree chute. At this point we switched out of climbing shoes. For the most part we followed the chute (going right to avoid a large chock stone) until we got to the part where it hits the ridge. Follow a steep right sloping ramp to the ridge.

The ridge is awesome, it's really long and really knife-edgey, it's definitely the highlight of this climb. There isn't much actual climbing on the ridge, (e.g it's kinda flat), but it's definitely long, and there are several pillars of stone to pass over. At one point while I was testing my weight onto a large stone, it came loose and hit me on the knee before dropping down, but most of the rocks were solidly in place. One thing to note is that you can clearly see the descent gully while on the ridge (it's the chute directly below, towards Piute Pass).

The scree gully descent is just typical sierras, there's not really anything to add, We were able to see all the way down to the water from basically the entire way, it's fairly long, but there isn't anything tricky to it. The descent is longer than the approach, as you exit off the Piute pass (west) side of the mountain, as opposed to starting on the other side. However once you hit the trail (and water) it's pretty easy.
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