Mount Mendel Left Mendel Couloir

Bishop, California

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The left-hand couloir on the north face of Mt. Mendel is perhaps the most difficult alpine ice climb in the Sierra. This route requires a capricious combination of a wet winter snowpack and sustained melt/freeze conditions for ice to form in the gully. In July of 1967, Yosemite climbers Mike Cohen and Roy Bishop completed the first ascent of the gully. Finding that the ice had melted in the steepest section, they were forced to climb the rock wall to the side of the couloir. Cohen later revealed, “Although it has been assumed that we avoided the most difficult ice in the gully, this is not true. We were pretty hard-pressed to climb the upper slot in our floppy leather boots and flexible crampons, but we scratched our way up somehow.”
Climbing California's High Sierra

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Climbing California's High Sierra

by John Moynier & Claude Fiddler (Falcon Guides)

The left-hand couloir on the north face of Mt. Mendel is perhaps the most difficult alpine ice climb in the Sierra. This route requires a capricious combination of a wet winter snowpack and sustained melt/freeze conditions for ice to form in the gully. In July of 1967, Yosemite climbers Mike Cohen and Roy Bishop completed the first ascent of the gully. Finding that the ice had melted in the steepest section, they were forced to climb the rock wall to the side of the couloir. Cohen later revealed, “Although it has been assumed that we avoided the most difficult ice in the gully, this is not true. We were pretty hard-pressed to climb the upper slot in our floppy leather boots and flexible crampons, but we scratched our way up somehow.”

©  John Moynier & Claude Fiddler/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Bishop
Class: Class 5 - 5.5
Local Contacts: Kings Canyon National Park
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Darwin, Mt. Thompson
Driving Directions: Directions to Mount Mendel: Left Mendel Couloir

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May 2018