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Mount Whitney Gets New Big 5.11 Called Inyo Face

Mount Whitney is 4,421 metres, which makes it the highest mountain in the Lower 48. It was first climbed on Aug. 18, 1873 by Charles Begole, Albert Johnson and John Luca. This past week, Austin Siadak and Vitaliy Musiyenko established a new 750-metre 5.11 grade-five up the big east face they called Inyo Face. It climbs splitter corners and cracks left of the 1991 route by Galen Rowel and Dave Wilson called Left Wing Extremists. The east face of Whitney rises above the Inyo National Forest.

On some rare days it just all comes together — partner, psyche, objective, weather, fitness, luck — and you walk away with something really special. Yesterday was one of those days. Starting early in a cloudy and cold post-dawn and ending many hours later on a frigid and blustery summit, Vitaliy Musiyenko (aka @mtngangsta) and I established a new route on the big East Face of Mt. Whitney (14,508ft). "Inyo Face" (V 5.11 730m) takes a largely independent line to the left of Wilson/Rowell's "Left Wing Extremist" and follows awesome corners and cracks all the way to the tippy top of the highest point in the Lower 48. Hard to put into words how stoked we still are. I'm grinning ear to ear right now 😃 Who says everything's all climbed out?!?!?!?

A photo posted by Austin Siadak (@austin_siadak) on

There are a number of world-class routes up the eastern aspect of California’s highest mountain. Every year, hikers put their name into a lottery for the chance to scramble the eastern hiking trail. Climbers don’t need to enter the lottery and often descend the Mountaineer’s Route after reaching the summit. The Mountaineer’s Route was climbed by legendary John Muir solo in Oct. 1873. The west flank has a few independent class-three routes, as does the north face. In 1988, Rowell soloed the 400-metre 5.7 north arete now called the Rowell North Arete.

The Northeast Ridge was first climbed by Rowell and Claude Fiddler in 1982 and it follows a long esthetic route to the summit. A decade before it was climbed, Keith Bell and Vern Clevenger established Cardiovascular Seizure, a long crack in a dihedral. To the left is the well-named Rotten Chimney 5.8 and Mountaineer’s Route. Then there is the stunning Northeast Buttress (route 9 on topo) first climbed in 1937 by Glen Dawson and friends. It has solid rock and routes between 5.2 and 5.8.

The most famous route on the big east face is the East Face route that goes at 5.7. It was first climbed in 1931 by Norman Clyde and partners. The route gained popularity after Tommy Caldwell said it was his favourite climb in the book Fifty Favourite Climbs. The classic pitch is the Fresh Air Traverse, which climbs long exposed ledges to an upper “staircase.” Next to that is The Great Book 5.9 (route 11 on topo) first climbed by Chris Vandiver and Gary Colliver. Next to it is The Hairline 5.10 A3 (route 12 on topo) by Alex Scmauss and Bruce Bindner.

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Then there is the Direct East Face 5.9 A3 (route 12 on topo) that climbs a long corner and left of it is Left Wing Extremist. Inyo Face climbs the large wall in the topo between route 12 and 13 (the Southeast Face).

Whitney East Face from Climbing California's Fourteeners: The Route Guide to the Fifteen Highest Peaks By Stephen Porcella, Cameron M. Burns
Whitney East Face from Climbing California’s Fourteeners by Stephen Porcella and Cameron M. Burns