Banner Peak North Arete

Mammoth Lakes, California

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The first ascent of Banner Peak’s spectacular north skyline was another of those early Class 4 routes that have since been recognized as much harder. Jim Koontz and Sarah Haynes made the first ascent of the north ridge from Glacier Lake Pass. Koontz’s name pops up in Sierra climbing annals again in 1953 with the first ascent of Koontz Pinnacle in the Kaweahs. He also rated that climb Class 4 but noted that it was “very dangerous due to loose rock.” Obviously, Koontz was a solid climber and quite at home on steep, loose rock. Claude Fiddler and Vern Clevenger repeated the route in the mid-1980s. At the trailhead, Clevenger decided to leave the rope in the car because the route was only rated fourth class in the guidebook. Fiddler recalled, “I wondered why Vern had said we would not need a rope for the climb because it looked a lot harder than Class 4. When we got to the base of the steep buttress and I started climbing, Vern asked if I had lost my marbles. I reminded him that it was his idea not to bring a rope. Needless to say, we finished the route and had a grand climb.”
Climbing California's High Sierra

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Climbing California's High Sierra

by John Moynier & Claude Fiddler (Falcon Guides)

The first ascent of Banner Peak’s spectacular north skyline was another of those early Class 4 routes that have since been recognized as much harder. Jim Koontz and Sarah Haynes made the first ascent of the north ridge from Glacier Lake Pass. Koontz’s name pops up in Sierra climbing annals again in 1953 with the first ascent of Koontz Pinnacle in the Kaweahs. He also rated that climb Class 4 but noted that it was “very dangerous due to loose rock.” Obviously, Koontz was a solid climber and quite at home on steep, loose rock. Claude Fiddler and Vern Clevenger repeated the route in the mid-1980s. At the trailhead, Clevenger decided to leave the rope in the car because the route was only rated fourth class in the guidebook. Fiddler recalled, “I wondered why Vern had said we would not need a rope for the climb because it looked a lot harder than Class 4. When we got to the base of the steep buttress and I started climbing, Vern asked if I had lost my marbles. I reminded him that it was his idea not to bring a rope. Needless to say, we finished the route and had a grand climb.”

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

Activity Type: Climbing
Nearby City: Mammoth Lakes
Class: Class 5.6 - 5.8
Local Contacts: John Muir Wilderness
Local Maps: USGS Mt. Ritter, Mammoth Mountain
Grade: Grade III
Driving Directions: Directions to Banner Peak: North Arete

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