Sunday, July 26, 2009

West Ridge of Mt. Conness

On Saturday I climbed the 1500' West Ridge of Mt. Conness solo. The route is rated 5.6 and contains some of the best rock I have ever climbed on a High Sierra route. The approach is long and can be a bit confusing if you don't know the area due to the amount of cross country travel. I actually backtracked at one point thinking I was off route, but I was going the right way, that cost me 30 minutes. Once you reach the Conness Plateau you have to drop down a gully for a good ways to reach the base of the climb. I went down the wrong gully and was eventually cliffed out and had to climb back up, this probably cost me close to an hour and a lot of energy. I eventually found the correct gully and met 3 climbers that were taking a break and were about to descend the gully. I made it to the base of the climb in about 4:30 hours from leaving the trail head, I probably could have done it in close to 3 hours except for my misadventures. I was first to the base and eventually the other 3 climbers showed up and they were going to belay the route, which means I would not see them again. The climbing on the ridge was very enjoyable with nice cracks and fun arete moves. The route finding was easy, just stay on the edge of the arete or the crest of the ridge and you will find great clean rock and fun climbing. By the end of the climb I was beginning to get tired and was moving a little slow, plus at this point I was at 12,000' and the air was getting thinner. I kept moving as thunderheads were beginning to form and I wanted to be on my way down before anything hit. The descent was casual although I spent the last hour death marching out as I began to bonk due to dehydration. I made it back to the van after washing up in the creek for a 9 hour and 50 minute car to car time. This is an amazing climb on great rock, the long approach is definitely worth it. I will post more pics once I have access to a faster Internet connection.

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