Pitch 5

Bruce Bindner starts up the arête on pitch 5, after traversing the unprotected, grooved face from the main dihedral. photo: Em Holland

Granite Park Spire, Sierra Nevada Mountains, White Peregrines. Em Holland and I were lured to Granite Park by Rick “The Chief” Poedtke’s tales of stellar climbing on an untouched high point of the Sierra Crest. Rick had climbed about half the route the previous year with Zak Schneider, but freezing September winds and waning daylight checked their enthusiasm. What Rick glossed over in his glowing descriptions was the 4,500-foot entrance fee to even set foot on the rock! Regardless, last summer Rick, Em, and I paid our fee and then Em and I needed a rest day simply to recover and acclimatize.

The following day, July 28, we headed for the large dihedral system at the juncture of the monolithic south face and the more broken east face. We utilized the longer days and our larger team size to our best advantage, with one person equipping the route for the descent while the other two climbed. Nevertheless, it was late in the day by the time we completed what we believe is the first ascent of the spire and started the rappels, and just before midnight when we finally bedded down again in camp. Our route, White Peregrines (5.10c, 6 pitches), gains about 850′ from talus to summit, and the roped climbing is about 650-700’.

Granite Park is set deep in the eastern High Sierra, eight miles beyond the Pine Creek Pass Trailhead. “Granite Park Spire” (12,800’+, name submitted to U.S. Board on Geographic Names) is truly the matriarch of the basin. Overlooking the col between Granite Park and Bear Lakes Basin, its elegance and stature present both an opportunity and a challenge to climbers weary of standing in line for classic rock. The route proper and summit offer incredible and stunning views of many different Sierra peaks, such as Bear Creek Spire, Mt. Julius Caesar, Mt. Feather, Royce and Merriam peaks, Mt. Humphreys, and the Seven Gables.

Our route offers every kind of climbing imaginable—from chimneys, offwidths, and laybacks to splitter cracks and wild face moves—all at a fairly consistent level of difficulty. White Peregrines is one of the best climbs I have experienced in the High Sierra, having called the Range of Light my home range for more than four decades.

Bruce Bindner, Old Climbers’ Home, Mill Valley, CA