Whaleback (N#136, T#63) and Glacier Ridge (N#137, T#64)
Nathan Day 89, Travis Day 35
I woke up with an immediate feeling of excitement. Yesterday had been an exhausting effort and I could tell my body was tired from the 18 hours on the go. However, today was no ordinary day and no amount of fatigue would stand in my way. Today was Whaleback day!
Whaleback is hands down one of the most aesthetic mountains in the Sierras. Two days ago I had pushed my way past the thick willows and stepped out into a large grassy meadow.
On the far side the north ridge of Whaleback rose majestically, forming a razor sharp granite fin seemingly out of nowhere. The ridge rises to the summit and a symmetrical south ridge drops off the other side creating a half moon of mountain. It is aptly named because it really does look like a whale of rock breaching from the meadows below. And I was eager to ride the whale!
It was mid morning by the time Nathan and I were ready to go. We had slept in because we arrived at camp around 1:30am last night. Nonetheless, he was just as psyched as I was.
The climb began with a bit of easy class 2 before we gained the ridge proper.
Then we reached a headwall where the ridge steepens on both sides and the rock quality drastically improves.
We weaved our way through the cracks and edges of the ridgeline. At a difficult section of climbing, I had to reach high to a good hold and stay close to the rock.
Unfortunately, I stayed too close and the granola bar in my front pocket was knocked out of my pack and down into the abyss. I was very sad, but hey, better the bar than me.
The climbing was never more difficult than easy 5th class but with the thousand feet of exposure on either side of the ridge, it was certainly engaging. We both agreed it was one of our favorite alpine scrambles.
From the top we earned a view of our next mountain, Glacier Ridge. The east slope was still surprisingly snowy but we scouted a route through the slabs that seemed favorable. We descended down the "Blowhole" route.
It is well named because you actually traverse through a cool hole in the rock.
Once we descended back down to the canyon floor we began our climb up Glacier Ridge.
We traversed along class 2 slabs between the snow and soon found our way to the summit.
The views were superb. We ogled our Great Western Divide linkup from the day before.
It was a lot of terrain and a lot of big peaks. If I had known what it looked like before doing it, I would have been much more frightened.
We enjoyed the summit for a while as the sun dipped low in the sky and eventually made our way back to camp.
Thankfully it was still early enough we could catch up on some much needed sleep.
View the activity here.