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[TR] Mt Carl Heller - East Ridge 3/13/2011


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Trip: Mt Carl Heller - East Ridge


Date: 3/13/2011


Trip Report:

Carl Heller is a rarely climbed peak just north of Mt Whitney in the High Sierra. However, the east ridge is often touted as being the best scramble in the High Sierra, with continuous exposure & knife edge scrambling on sustained cl. 3-4 cracks and friction slab.


A few years ago I saw a photo of the ridge with snow on it, and it looked like a whole different level of challenge. Despite the easier rating, with snow this was a lot harder than the East Ridge of Mt Humphreys (III-IV, 5.4-5.5) that I had climbed the months prior, and with runouts traverses on soft snow adhering to steep granite slabs.


I talked Vitaliy, Max, Shane, and Kevin into joining me, and as expected, the ridge was longer and harder than expected and we bivied one pitch shy of the summit before descending the next day.


We reached the most exposed and technical crux in the dark, so sadly I don't have any photos of that. See the report link for more photos & the write up. Some highlight photos are included below.


Link: Partying Like a G6 on the East Ridge of Carl Heller (In Winter Style)



Carl Heller seen from our camp.




The East Ridge of Carl Heller




The East Ridge of Carl Heller as we pitched it out (I left out 1 or 2 belays)




The East Ridge of Carl Heller as we pitched it out (I left out 1 or 2 belays)




Some of the tricky climbing in the middle of the ridge. You had to dig around a lot in the snow to find pro & holds.



Increasing exposure on the ridge. Fortunately the snow on the slab held and only footsteps were collapsing.




Gear Notes:

Light alpine rack. Very large slings for slinging blocks.


1-2 pickets for psychological pro if you're desperate.


In summer no gear is needed, though many people would appreciate a rope or climbing shoes for a couple of sections.


Approach Notes:

Approach by ascending 5,000 up the annoying bushwack in George Creek (snow does not make it easier!).


After the climb, descend the cl. 4 West Face, and ascend 1,000 ft over Vacation Pass to the north to return to camp.


In summer the route is often done out of Whitney Portal via Cleaver Col & Vacation Pass, then back out via Cleaver Col as a long day hike & scramble.

Edited by PellucidWombat
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Thanks Veronica! The Russian rating was made in jest since two members of our group were Ukrainian. Vitaliy actually did bring some vodka for the bivy & summit, while I brought Jameson whiskey out of respect for my Irish heritage :-)



how appropriate!

i brought a little vodka bottle to our ascent of borah last year, and doug and i dragged a bottle of burgundy and a bottle chianti to... burgundy and chianti peaks in north cascades a few weeks ago. cheers!

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