Mount Winchell West Arete

Big Pine, California

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Glen Dawson, Jules Eichorn, and John Olmstead made the first ascent of the west chute of Mt. Winchell on their first trip in the Sierra together. Beginning on July 6, 1930, they spent a month moving south, climbing roughly one peak a day. In the first week of their trip, the trio climbed Red and White Mountain, Mt. Abbot, Mt. Dade, and Bear Creek Spire. The next week, they headed on to Mt. Darwin, Mt. Mendel, the Hermit, and Mt. McGee. Mt. Goddard was added on July 20, and a few days later, they made ascents of Devils Crag #1 and Mt. Woodworth. Eichorn, Dawson, and Olmstead climbed Middle Palisade on July 26, then traversed from Mt. Sill to North Palisade the following day. On July 29, the climbers tackled the impressive west chute of Mt. Winchell. The route was difficult and exposed. After reaching the summit, the team climbed nearby Mt. Agassiz before returning to their camp in Dusy Basin. The west arete of Mt. Winchell is also an excellent and airy climb (III 5.8) and shares the final pitches on the arete with the original route. Warren Harding and Galen Rowell made the first ascent of the west face in May of 1976. Rowell noted, “The route began on a broad face to the left of the ridge crest, then gained the crest and followed it for 1500 feet to the summit. Climbing was moderate fifth class with one 5.8 section.” Chris Keith described the route as the “best climb of its type in the Sierra.” In places, the exposed arete is only 8–10 feet wide and very exposed. The west side of the Palisades offers some of longest and most impressive climbs in the range. Unlike the glacier side, there is an added advantage for rock climbers in the absence of snow or glacier travel to reach the base of the routes. Other technical routes of interest on the west side of the crest include the West Buttress of Starlight Peak (IV 5.10c) and the west face (IV 5.10) and southwest face (IV 5.11c) of North Palisade.

Mount Winchell: West Arete Professional Review and Guide

"Glen Dawson, Jules Eichorn, and John Olmstead made the first ascent of the west chute of Mt. Winchell on their first trip in the Sierra together. Beginning on July 6, 1930, they spent a month moving south, climbing roughly one peak a day. In the first week of their trip, the trio climbed Red and White Mountain, Mt. Abbot, Mt. Dade, and Bear Creek Spire. The next week, they headed on to Mt. Darwin, Mt. Mendel, the Hermit, and Mt. McGee. Mt. Goddard was added on July 20, and a few days later, they made ascents of Devils Crag #1 and Mt. Woodworth. Eichorn, Dawson, and Olmstead climbed Middle Palisade on July 26, then traversed from Mt. Sill to North Palisade the following day. On July 29, the climbers tackled the impressive west chute of Mt. Winchell. The route was difficult and exposed. After reaching the summit, the team climbed nearby Mt. Agassiz before returning to their camp in Dusy Basin. The west arete of Mt. Winchell is also an excellent and airy climb (III 5.8) and shares the final pitches on the arete with the original route. Warren Harding and Galen Rowell made the first ascent of the west face in May of 1976. Rowell noted, “The route began on a broad face to the left of the ridge crest, then gained the crest and followed it for 1500 feet to the summit. Climbing was moderate fifth class with one 5.8 section.” Chris Keith described the route as the “best climb of its type in the Sierra.” In places, the exposed arete is only 8–10 feet wide and very exposed. The west side of the Palisades offers some of longest and most impressive climbs in the range. Unlike the glacier side, there is an added advantage for rock climbers in the absence of snow or glacier travel to reach the base of the routes. Other technical routes of interest on the west side of the crest include the West Buttress of Starlight Peak (IV 5.10c) and the west face (IV 5.10) and southwest face (IV 5.11c) of North Palisade."

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Big Pine
Class: Class 5.6 - 5.8
Local Contacts: John Muir Wilderness; Kings Canyon National Park
Local Maps: USGS North Palisade, Coyote Flat
Grade: Grade III
Driving Directions: Directions to Mount Winchell: West Arete

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May 2018