Premier Buttress Trip Report

Start of Premier Buttress Mt. Whitney from top of Premier Buttress
On Sunday, I picked Walter up at 6:15am. It was already hot (85!) in Ridgecrest by then, so I was happy to be going into the mountains. Walter drove us up to the last hairpin turn approaching Whitney Portals while I tried to catch up on some sleep.

We started climbing around 9am and finished around 1pm. Then it took a couple hours to get back to our packs-the rappel was another element of excitement. The Premier Buttress Route is an adventure route. There are bushes all over the cracks, a little bit of routefinding, and some really committing runout slab.

It was very pleasant weather all day. Probably in the mid 70s to mid 80s. There was a slight breeze that lasted all morning, turning into gusts towards lunchtime. It was a nice chilly sort of wind that really made the climbing enjoyable.

Walter Start of Premier Buttress

Since my finger was still swollen from last weeks Ultimate injury, I decided not to do any leading. Instead, I opted for being the pack horse. I had the water, parka, aiders, and camera. It was challenging being a cleaner up at elevation-the first “Sierra” adventure for the summer! Woo-hoo.

Walter did a great job placing nuts, and as a result, I had to use the nut tool on all but 2 nuts of the climb. It was tricky to get that stuff out without taking a hang, but I managed. Also, he did a great job of protecting the climb for the follower.

Finger Crack First Pitch
The first pitch is mostly a finger crack (~5.7).

Looking Back at Top of Second Pitch
The second pitch features more hand sized cracks and is a little easier than the first pitch (~5.6+).

There was only one spot on this pitch I would have done differently, and we made a note of it for the future:

In the picture, above, there is a slab on the left and a tree on the right. This shot was taken from above, looking back down the route. If the leader chooses to go up the slab, it is important that they put a piece of gear in to keep the rope from getting in the tree on the right! Otherwise, it gets tangled up in the tree and it can be a problem for the follower.

The Third Pitch:
The third pitch is a face pitch, 6 bolts with two opportunities for gear. After the last bolt, it is run-out 5.8 crux with slab climbing for 40 feet until you reach the anchor.

The lower crux is 5.10c if freed, but there is a bolt ladder if you want to aid the crux. Walter aided half of the crux, then he freed the last half. On TR, I followed the same way that Walter did the climb. To free the last half of that section on up to the anchors is hard in your face slab stuff-Walter did a superb job. It was very tricky with a backpack on-as my balance is a little off!

Walter Slab Third Pitch
Before the Crux (the ascenders are in the aided bolts).

Walter on the Slabby Cruxy Third Pitch
Just after the crux (aided section) and after the 5.8 runout slabby bit.

Looking Back at Top of Third Pitch

The short and sweet fourth pitch (see picture below):
The fourth pitch is (~5.8) has a little bit of everything (slab, crack, lieback, and a steep bouldery move). There is a stemming/lieback steep section ending the climb, a very fun 3 move series!!! Once that is completed you are at the top and ready to rappel…
Walter Short and Sweet Fourth Pitch

Climbergirl Summits Premier Buttress
Yay, the summit of Premier Buttress! What fantastic views!

Classic Foot Dangle from Top of Premier Buttress
Foot dangle from the top of Premier Buttress. I can see my truck from here!

Charlie with Harleys on Whitney Portal Road
My truck is being visited by a couple of dudes on Harleys. They couldn’t see us, but we could see them!

Topping Out On Premier Buttress
Walter and I on the top of Premier Buttress. Yay!

The Descent:
Planning the Rappel from Premier Buttress

The way Walter had descended in the past was not possible today because the old fixed gear in the cracks had been removed. About 10 feet to the right, brand new spankin chains were put in. However, it was unclear as to which way to rap down. I was uncertain if we could make it to the last anchor, as I believe we passed the halfway point getting to the top!

So, we opted to throw the rope down into a gully (in the same direction as Walter had rapped before). It worked out great.

Good Samaritan Replacing Rappel Webbing
On the third rappel, Walter took some time to cut out some old weather worn webbing, and installed a new backup silver colored webbing, using a water knot. I took a picture of the good samaritan at work, making the raps safer for everybody in the future.

The hike back to the truck went quick, and before I knew it, we were noshing on some really tasty food at Mt. Whitney Restaurant. Five star eatery-I got my normal turkey burger with everything on it-onion rings-strawberry milkshake. Walter stuck with his fav. Tuna melt and beer.

I dropped Walter off at home around 6:15pm. The twelve hours flew by so fast. It was an action packed day, scenic vistas, and great food. What more could a climber desire? For me, a little less slab (or better protected!) and more stable/obvious rappel route would have been nice…but those are my only cons for the route.

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One Response to “Premier Buttress Trip Report”

  1. Walter says:

    Great write-up and use of the pictures! Yeah, thanks for carrying all of the “stuff”. :-)
    I’m sure looking forward to the Needles this weekend.