Mt Starr King, Southeast Face

5 Sep 1999 - by Ron Karpel

Sunday, Sept. 5, Nancy Fitzsimmons, Scott Kreider, and me (Ron Karpel) climbed Mt Starr King in Yosemite via the Southeast face route. We followed the description in previous trip report to get to the base of the climb. It was a 5 mile track over trail, water, scree and rocks, and finally climb over the middle dome of the Starr King massif which is smooth glacier polished granite.

The many descriptions of the technical portion were somewhat confusing. It was all made much clearer once we started climbing. Reading the description in Secor I now realize we climb exactly as he describes, but I agree with other people that the route is harder than 5.0. The technical climb starts at the end of a wide crack in the face which provide a comfortable belay spot. From there Scott took the lead and followed the open book feature to the crux of the climb which is about 10 meter from the belay point. The face at this point is somewhat steep, but the rock surface is rough and provide good friction. A couple of steps of this delicate friction moves lead to a large flake that provides a good undercling and good protections (see later). From the flake there seem to be several choices. Scott headed right through a series of flakes that provide good protection, but the climbing got easy enough at this point that only one or 2 were needed. Another 20 meter of easy friction climbing lead to a wide ledge. There was a rappel system attached to a chockstone which was hidden from us until we were right on the ledge. Scott setup a belay and got us up. I climbed second and left the one pro that Scott placed under the flake to give Nancy better protection on the crux. Nancy following, was unable to remove the pro, and we decided to get it out on the way down.

I took the lead for the second pitch. After a few class 4 moves it became a class-3 friction climb. I ended up pulling an 80 ft runout to the next belay point from which we simply untied and walk to the summit. After about an hour on the summit we walked back down to the point were we untied. Although we could walk down a bit farther, we all agreed that we didn't like to down climb all the way to the first belay, and that point was the last convenient place to setup for rappel. We couldn't find any rappel slings, so we used our own. The 50 meter rope made it with no problem to the ledge, and from there we setup a second rappel to the bottom.

Almost too late, Scott remember the pro that was left in the flake. It was a no. 3 small Metolius so Scott took extra time trying to extract it from the crack, but no help. The device was stuck solidly and will not come out. Scott says that a crow bar and maybe a good wire cutter may be helpful. If you are heading that way and have a kind soul, please return it to Scott.


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