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[TR] Premier Buttress - Whitney Portal- Premier Ro


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Climb: Premier Buttress - Whitney Portal-Premier Route


Date of Climb: 6/19/2005


Trip Report:

Climbed this 5+ pitch, 5.8 A1 classic with my friend M. today. This climb is located in the Whitney Portal, faces south-west, and is an obvious beautiful line up. A short 15 minute hike brought us to the base of the buttress - the route follows the left side of the buttress crest. Pitches 1 & 2 are 5.6 cracks. Pitch 2 hugs the far left side of the crest and finishes at a large tree and ledge (the tree's suffering - please use the crack behind it for an anchor!). Pitch 3 is an awesome 5.7 hand and fist crack. Use the two bolt anchor or continue on another twenty feet to a pedestal top (recommended).

Pitch 4 is the meat and potatoes pitch, a bolt protected slab leading to a hollow flake to a 4-bolt ladder. This section supposedly goes free at 10c slab, but we aided through it. I brought a pair of etriers, leaving one clipped to the second bolt (the bottom rung can be reached from the top of the flake), the second etrier clipped to the third bolt, and a pair of slings clipped to the fourth bolt. Some 5.8 slab and another bolt leads to another two bolt anchor.

M. got to lead the money pitch, a 5.8 mix of finger crack to bolt-protected slab (2 bolts), to a shallow corner before finishing on a big ledge and another bolted anchor.

From there we followed the topo and traversed left to a third class gully, climbed on for another 50 feet to a second class ledge system that lead to a notch just below the buttress summit. A 30m rap reached the ground between Premier and El Segundo.

We started the day planning a link-up with the Beckey Route or Brainstorm on El Segundo Buttress - both 4-pitch 5.9s - but a late start and easy-going pace convinced us that it was too late in the day. A gravel-glissade lead us back to the start of the route, the approach trail, and the car.

French fries awaited at the Whitney Portal Grill, and a great dinner at the Still Life Cafe in Independence.


We carried a heavier rack then really necessary in anticipation of El Segundo. I'd probably repeat the route with one set of nuts and one set of cams from a .4 to a #3, with double #1 & 2.


The bolt ladder is reachy (and I'm 6'1", so I must reach up 8+ feet). To reach the third bolt I had to stand in the grab loop of my etrier! In the future I'll prep a "stiffy" quickdraw for this pitch.


The anchors for Pitches 1 & 2 are gear. Pitch 3 is an optional bolt anchor or a gear anchor on top of a pedestal with great position to spectate the next pitch. Pitches 4 and 5 are bolted anchors. The lengths are p1: 40m, p2: 35m, p3: 35m, p4: 30m, p5: 50m.


If you plan on linking up Premier with El Segundo or don't have double ropes, I'd recommend climbing a sixth pitch of easy 5th class on the crest for 50 - 75 feet to the same second class ledge system rather than traversing left into the 3rd class gully. The time spent organizing, packing and routefinding over to and up the gully was greater than just pitching it out up the crest would have taken. From there its a quick walk to the rap anchor.


A rappel descent is optional - the bolted anchors at the top of pitches 5, 4, and 3 have beefy rap chains. Double ropes are necessary (this is a great option with three people). From the rap station on p3, aim left off of the crest - its obvious when you see it.


You head right past the start of the route, so leave water/packs at the start if you're not linking up with El Segundo. Either descent requires a gravel-glissade, so bring your shoes with you on the climb!


Snow level seems to be right around Lower Boy Scout Lake, 10,300 ft, and well above our elevation. The temp in the Portal was great today, t-shirts until the wind picked up and required windshirts.


Gear Notes:

60m rope

1 double-length sling came in handy

8 shoulder slings with biners, tripled up

6 quickdraws - a few too many for this route, 2-4 would have been sufficient

1 set of nuts

2 sets of cams from purple TCU size to #3 camalot - to much for just this route, one set from a #.4 - #3 with doubles #1 & #2 would've sufficed

2 etriers - kept packed away until pitch 4


Approach Notes:

Parking is across from the group camping entrance, on the old road. Its gated just after you turn off, so hike up the road to its end, then up a short trail to the toe of the buttress. 15 minutes.

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Nice report. I am headed down to the area later this week and am now thinking about this route. One question, did you need any kind of a permit to get into the portal area?

Nope. Inyo National Forest isn't on the "Fee Demo" program, so there's no fee unless your spending the night.

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