Anthony and Ari had been admiring Mount Humphreys from their home in Bishop for a couple years now. But given that there are no easy routes up the peak, it remained unclimbed by our friend group. Fortunately, we all had spent the spring and summer shoring up our skills and confidence in the mountains. So when I found myself out in Bishop for a couple weeks, the three of us picked a day and set out at five in the morning for the summit.
The approach was straightforward, hike six miles up to Paiute Pass, and then cut right cross-country to the base of the peak. We got to the highest of the Humphreys Lakes and scoped out the chute we would take to gain the notch. We ambled up the chute which was supposedly class three, but quickly found ourselves pondering our predicament on an uncomfortably small ledge with big falls awaiting us all around. We carefully and nervously down climbed to a safe spot, egos battered. I thought about calling it a day given our rocky start, Anthony and Ari gently urged me to at least make it to the notch, which sounded okay to me. We found a mellow class two chute up to the notch and stared up at the last 600 feet of the climb in awe. The loose, chossy chutes we just ascended gave way to beautiful, solid, near-vertical rock.
We saw a single climber on the descent, who passed by us a bit disheveled. He was glad to hear we had a rope because the climbing and route finding was apparently quite treacherous. The route goes at class four, but Sierra “class four” can easily find its way into fifth class. We racked up for the last bit of the climb. Picking our way up some class three terrain, we soon made it to a fifteen foot section of class four, “the flake”. It was an easy but airy traverse that we navigated without protection.
We then found ourselves at the crux of the route. A thought provoking forty feet of Sierra class four. Ari threw me on belay and I meandered up it without much issue. A couple pieces of gear and a slung rock saw me safely to the top of the pitch, where I set an anchor to get Anthony and Ari up. From there we had some exposed but easy scrambling to the summit. The views did not disappoint, even with the smoke that still lingered over the mountains.
Looking up at the fun bit
Class three bits
We moseyed on down, rappelled a couple hundred feet back to the class three terrain, and picked our way slowly off the mountain. Just before sunset, we found ourselves at the North Lake trailhead, exhausted from a long but rewarding day. For some reason, that climb felt like a true adventure. Maybe it was the high alpine trad climbing, the airy scrambling, or rappelling into the abyss, but in any case, it was a good day out in the Sierra.
Anthony snapped this photo of me from the summit