Correction to Secor, Middle Palisade

by Peter Maxwell
It was a gentle climb and traverse to get to the glacier (definitely a better route than going to the south end of Finger Lake and climbing from there), where we filled up with the last water available until the return.

Paul and Charles headed off on the moraine splitting the glacier while the rest of us took a "short cut" across the snow. Despite our intentions to show the other two our way was better, we encountered more difficult conditions and we could see them getting further ahead, easily beating us to the point where we rejoined.

Roper's description is actually better than Secor's, since he specifically states to go a short distance on the south portion of the glacier before starting the climb. Had we not done this we'd have had a lot of trouble getting started on the mountain.

The next milestone was to "cross over to the next gulley" at a point when we encountered "an obvious patch of light colored rock". As we discovered on the way down, a far better description would be "follow the obvious chute to the summit" as the so-called crossover was not really a crossover at all, but a continuation in the same direction as the chute we started out in. We really crossed over and ended up in a chute which took us to the north of the summit.

For us, wrong was right, because this chute turned out to have much more solid rock than the other. It also became a lot steeper which made it a lot more challenging and fun. Bordering on class 4, it never really made it as there were always lots of handholds. However, none of us wanted to downclimb it and we were hoping to find a more gentle way down. There was also still loose rock so it was important to stay close together. Charles was so keen to summit that he had to be restrained from blasting off in the lead and blasting us with rocks. At one point someone dislodged a largish rock which in turn created almost an avalanche which tumbled down to the glacier far below. This was not to be taken lightly.

When we "summitted" we were two couloirs to the north of the real summit. We could see it, but the knife-ridge we were on had hideous drops to the west and a decidedly class 4 move to traverse on the east. Without knowing if there was a class 3 traverse we descended about 20 feet and explored the ledges. We were in luck, and the traverse turned into an exciting class 3 adventure, never knowing if hand or footholds would degenerate around the next bluff, and always being rewarded. This was High Sierra class 3 climbing as it should be!

Our final assault on the summit block saw all of us scramble with great difficulty up the last portion, only to discover there was a trivial route round the back side.

Our descent took us down the "correct" couloir, but although this was less steep than our ascent, the rock was much crumblier and we had to be super careful about dislodging a shower on people below. We all agreed that to climb up this would not have been as much fun as the route we took.


The information in these pages is provided by interested volunteers and has not been field checked. R.J. Secor, The Mountaineers and the Sierra Club are in no way responsible for the accuracy of any route advice on this web site. Safe climbers must be able to understand the terrain and topography of the area they travel in, and they must make wise route finding choices based on their own knowledge, experience and observations.