Sierra Mountain Center

California’s premier mountaineering school and guide service – Bishop, CA

Solstice Climbing on Premier Buttress; 21 June 2009

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Damien and Dustin came up from San Francisco to climb Fred Beckey’s Premier Route on the Premier Buttress.  This is my favorite route in the Eastern Sierra for the grade, with incredible finger cracks, hand cracks, an exciting 4-bolt ladder to aid through, slab climbing, face climbing, and even a chimney and off-width.  Whew!  Andy the Intern joined us, so we climbed in two rope teams.

I think I break up the normal Pitch 2 into two pitches to facilitate belayer communication, so by my system a team can:

  1. climb 5 pitches and do three rappels with two ropes from the top of Pitch 5, 4, and the anchor of Lori’s Lieback;
  2. or you can climb one more pitch and then scramble along sandy ledges first right, and then left through a notch to a single 30 meter rappel;
  3. or stop on that left ledge before the notch and climb anyone of a number of bushy crack systems for two more pitches to a true summit.

Damien and Dustin are really interested in getting into trad and multi-pitch climbing on their own, and are strong sport and gym climbers, so we spent a LOT of time talking about anchors, protection, gear, and on and on.  We opted for climbing the first 6 pitches and using the single rappel to get down into the gully, finishing the day before 5:00pm.

Dustin looks up at me on the top of pitch 5 while Damien reaches Andy at the top of pitch 4.  Pitch 4 features the A0 bolt ladder and run-out 5.8 slab climbing, while pitch 5 has an awesome finger crack leading to a great face/stem crux!


Chris Simmons is a rock, alpine, and ski guide for SMC as well as an AMGA Certified Alpine Guide. More about his adventures can be found on his personal blog, Climb.Ski.Run.Sleep.Repeat.

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Written by Chris

June 24, 2009 at 8:58 am

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