Mount Emerson - Southeast Face (5.4)

Where: Sierra Nevada, California
When: September 2006
Partners: Rick Kent
Route: Southeast Face (5.4)
TOPO: Here

Rappelling down the wrong gully

Rick Kent had told me about a fabulous route he and Paul Allegretti had done on the southeast face of Mount Emerson. With an easy technical rating of 5.4, the route was mostly an exposed scramble on good rock. Rick described the route as something of a Sierra classic.
Now, on-route

Starting early one morning from the North Lake Trailhead, Rick and I made good time to the base of Emerson's southeast face. There, we immediately picked up the line that he and Paul had used before.
CP leading the 2nd pitch

Well, instead of using it, we decided to climb into the gully to its right and head up that way instead, possibly leading to a leftward traverse up high and onto the face above the two technical pitches at the bottom. A couple hundred feet up, of course, we hit nasty terrain that necessitated us buildling a rock bollard and rappelling back down to the base of the chute.
Scrambling above the technical stuff

This time, we decided to head up the route proper. Rick led the first pitch, and I led the second. A beautiful route!
On the crest of the ridge above the face

Above the two technical pitches, the angle eased and Rick and I found ourselves on sustained class 3 & 4 scrambling up the steep mountain face. It wasn't long before we hit a notch, hung a left and gained the aesthetic, narrow and exposed ridge that would take us to the summit.
The summit is near

I was delighted when Rick told me that one didn't need to veer left or right in places to avoid the crest of the ridge; rather, one can stay true to the crest for maximum fun!
CP on the summit

Soon reaching the top, we posed for a few pitches, signed the summit register and hung out for awhile.
Our sign-ins

The descent down the standard hiking route was a breeze. A very reasonable and highly enjoyable day in the mountains.

Photos courtesy of Rick Kent