Shay and I had been talking for a while about heading up to get the first free ascent (FFA) of Pipeline (5.10 A0) on Mt. Carillon. It’s a 1000+’ route that he and Andre put up a year ago, remedy and the “money pitch” involves liebacking, cialis underclinging and smearing under an enormous roof that looks like a giant crashing wave. In addition, we planned on adding some new pitches leading up to and after the Pipeline roof. Mt. Carillon is just north of Lower Boy Scout Lake in the Whitney region, and is in a beautiful secluded valley away from the crowds.
We jumped in the car Friday at 4:15, battled some traffic, and hit the Whitney Portal around 10pm. After packing our gear and weighing our packs (Shay clocked in at 38lbs and me at 34lbs and that included 400’ of rope a full rack and a bolt kit between us) we headed up the trail. An hour and a half later we had blitzkrieged our way up to Lower Boy Scout Lake and we turned right up the hill into our own little paradise 30 minutes from the Whitney climber’s ant trail. We tossed a tent down in a meadow and were sleeping by 1am.
We woke to an alarm and the sun streaming perfectly through the window of the tent. We got the stove going and cooked up some oatmeal, which, by the way, Shay swore off forever after this trip. After breakfast, we packed the climbing gear and started up the hill toward Carillon. We walked up the valley following a beautiful stream up through another meadow and up a scree field and 30 minutes later we were racking up to climb.
We started up an unclimbed crack between the routes Sweet Carillon and Pipeline. Shay took the first lead, and with 15’ of simul-climbing he finished his 5.9+ pitch ending on a small stance at the base of a corner. I joined him, grabbed the rack and headed out.
At the end of the right-facing corner was a 4’ roof with multiple exit options. I opted for the most direct finish at the top of the corner, which was pulled at a surprisingly easy 5.10a via positive flakes and knobs for feet. After pulling the roof, I looked up to see endless liebacking above. I headed out with a relatively meager rack and ended up running it out 20+’ between pieces for the next 140’ of sustained climbing. There was a crux flare-thrash thrown in for good measure for a nice 195’ 5.10+ pitch that joined with the top of the 2nd pitch of Pipeline. I remember thinking all the way up the pitch, “Boy, this would suck to climb with a pack!” Sucks to be Shay! After cranking out the moves with only one, “I think I’m going to puke,” Shay joined me at the belay and took off on lead. I’m sure he was ecstatic to dump the pack for me to lug up the next pitch.
As he headed up his next pitch the weather got worse. The clouds had slowly been changing from the famous Sierra precursor white puffy clouds to ominous grey unhappiness. After getting about 150’ into the pitch, the clouds finally did what the weather forecast predicted and started precipitating. I’d say raining, but it switched from rain to hail to snow for the next hour or so. Shay rapped back to me, and we did another 200’ rappel and swung to 4th class territory leaving some slings and biners to be picked up the next day. Staying with the surfing theme, and having been rained off, we named our new pitches the “Wipeout” Variation.
After rapping off, we sat down during a lull in the weather and ate some lunch on a ledge near the bottom of the cliff. After that, we stashed the climbing gear under a rock and wandered back down to our tent for a leisurely half day of talking, cooking, and attempting to flatten our lumpy bivy site by bashing the lumps with rocks (see video). It rained on and off a little that afternoon, and we eventually fell asleep a little after dark.
We woke to a spectacular sunrise and some alpenglow on Carillon, Shay choked down some more of his favorite food, which he swore off even more vehemently, and without packs we were quickly back up to the base of Carillon racking up. This time we soloed around the first pitch of Pipeline coming in from the right and racked up. I took the first lead on the 2nd pitch of Pipeline and enjoyed some great 5.10 stemming up a cool stem box on yet another rope stretching pitch. Shay grabbed the rack and took us a ropelength higher and I blasted us up to a hanging belay as close to the Pipeline roof as possible for an excellent photo opportunity.
Shay, came up, racked up, and psyched up before cruising the pitch. It involved liebacking until the roof curved over and then switched to underclinging with feet smearing for the cruxes. On the first ascent, Shay and Andre had to deal with a lot of exfoliating flakes breaking off and hung on gear, but this time it was clean enough for Shay to send, and me to follow clean as well. I made sure to take the time to brush off as many flakes as possible while following, so now it is much cleaner after two ascents and is ready for more!
The final climbing is up lower angle blocky territory, and I chose a new path. I headed about 100’ up a gully to the right before randomly choosing a straight line heading out left which luckily turned into a very pleasant 200+’ 5.6-5.7 handcrack. We did about 300-400’ of simulclimbing as our final pitch and coiled the ropes to scramble off the back of the formation.
Once on top, we snapped some victory photos and I took some pics of Whitney and Russel from a perspective I’d never seen before, and we headed down. The descent was actually much easier than I expected with some fun “boot skiing” on scree, and we were at the tent in an hour to pack up and eat the remaining food. Amazingly, we made it down to the car in about an hour and fifteen minutes from our bivy site for a total of under 3 hours from the summit of the climb, including packing up our campsite! We grabbed some burgers at the Portal, some gas in Lone Pine, and we were back in San Diego by 10pm!
Thanks Shay, for letting me join you on such a cool trip!