Split Mountain Northeast Arete

Big Pine, California

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The great eastern escarpment of Split Mountain features two prominent aretes extending 2,000 feet from the twin summits. Galen Rowell noted with wonder. “This mountain somehow escaped all of the technical climbing that has gone on in the true Palisades Group, a few miles to the north.” Rowell climbed the southeast arete to the south summit (IV 5.9) in February of 1976 with David Belden, a visiting French guide. Rowell reported, “We found very mild winter conditions and camped below the arete at 10,500 feet. The following morning we climbed easy rock and snow gullies for a few hundred feet to the base of a sheer wall. Here we found a section of 5.9 climbing that was all we could manage in the cold weather with our mountain boots.” “Several pitches higher, the route reached the crest of the arete and David joyfully yelled down, ‘Baroque!’ For a thousand feet above him the ridge crest was rarely wider than six feet and it was serrated like an upturned saw blade. The teeth were granite blocks varying from ten to fifty feet across. We hurried across the ridge, sometimes roped, sometimes not, until we reached another small headwall, this time 5.8. After sixteen pitches of climbing we finally reached the south summit—the left side of the ‘split’ for which the peak is named. It took us another full hour to cross the long split to the main summit and we barely reached camp at dark.”

Split Mountain: Northeast Arete Professional Review and Guide

"The great eastern escarpment of Split Mountain features two prominent aretes extending 2,000 feet from the twin summits. Galen Rowell noted with wonder. “This mountain somehow escaped all of the technical climbing that has gone on in the true Palisades Group, a few miles to the north.” Rowell climbed the southeast arete to the south summit (IV 5.9) in February of 1976 with David Belden, a visiting French guide. Rowell reported, “We found very mild winter conditions and camped below the arete at 10,500 feet. The following morning we climbed easy rock and snow gullies for a few hundred feet to the base of a sheer wall. Here we found a section of 5.9 climbing that was all we could manage in the cold weather with our mountain boots.” “Several pitches higher, the route reached the crest of the arete and David joyfully yelled down, ‘Baroque!’ For a thousand feet above him the ridge crest was rarely wider than six feet and it was serrated like an upturned saw blade. The teeth were granite blocks varying from ten to fifty feet across. We hurried across the ridge, sometimes roped, sometimes not, until we reached another small headwall, this time 5.8. After sixteen pitches of climbing we finally reached the south summit—the left side of the ‘split’ for which the peak is named. It took us another full hour to cross the long split to the main summit and we barely reached camp at dark.”"

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 Split Mountain, Fish Springs
Grade: Grade III
Driving Directions: Directions to Split Mountain: Northeast Arete

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May 2018