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Climbing and Downclimbing the Mathes Crest Traverse

August, 2012

Sometimes flying is almost bewildering – you are at home one minute and an hour later you are somewhere where normally it takes a good part of a day to get there.

S0metimes however, it doesn’t work at all.  This was one of those trips.  We had planned to fly to Lee Vining again to do a famous knife-ridge climb in the high Sierra, but the forecast was for serious thunderstorms, high winds and even smoke from wildfires.  We decided it would be best to just spend the 5 hours in the car to drive there.

The Mathes Crest Traverse was a really fun climb, even though we got up and started the climb at 2:00 am to beat the thunderstorms.  Beat them we did, but barely, as you can see from the walk-off photo below.

(For anyone searching the web for beta on the climb – the 5.7 crack move off the ledge on the climb up to the north summit is a very hard and “army” 5.7.  It is also dangerous as it is hard to protect often enough to keep from hitting the ledge.  You might try moving around the corner from the 5.8 crack and trying the 5.7 ramps that lead up.  I would try that next time).

Betsy leading some fun, easy, but very exposed simul-climbing up Mathes Crest

Me on the famous overhung “Rock Cornice” or “Wave” section of Mathes Crest. Some of the 5.8 downclimbing was pretty scary.

There were plenty of parties still on the climb when we got off.  I think they got wet.

An unusual shot of Cathedral Peak

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