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Edge of Time Arete, The Citadel

By Greg Murphy 7/22/00

On Saturday, Peter Coward and I climbed the "Edge of Time Arete", IV, 5.10 on The Citadal in the High Sierra. The most noteworthy aspect of this climb is its 16 mile approach, which unfortunately translates to a 16 mile hike back to the car once you've completed the climb.

Peter and I drove out Friday night stopping in Livermore to buy a new harness after I realized I forgot mine at home. We got to the trailhead outside of Bishop at around midnight and enjoyed a three hour snooze waking at 3:15 am to get the coffee going. The 16 mile approach is incredible with lots of great scenery and spectacular views into LeConte Canyon, Langille Peak, and our objective The Citadel. Somewhere along the way I realized I forgot a significant portion of our food supplies. We did the approach in about 6 hours, the crux being the final bushwack up 2,000 feet to the base of the route. Despite some difficulties negotiating the snow and ice guarding the start of the route, we began climbing at 11:30 am. To avoid the bergschrund, we added the 2 pitch indirect start (5.4 X) that traverses into the climb above the snow.

The climb went smoothly with lots of variety making our way up the amazing NE Arete. We topped out around 5:40 after 6 hours of climbing. The descent is not for the faint of heart and involved complex, somewhat psycho, downclimbing, on steep loose shattered rock, with insane exposure. Now that we're done it, I highly recommend the route for the descent alone. With the climb and descent under our belts it was only a matter of finding our cached pack, fording the Middle Fork of the Kings River, hiking the 7 or 8 miles up 3,500 feet to Bishop Pass and descending 5 miles to the car. We started our return hike fairly strongly, grinding up about 2,000 feet in about an hour and a half. But at around 11 pm, we hit the wall. Maybe it was all that lunch food I forgot to pack. We carried on at a pathetic pace to Bishop Pass. Between hallucinations, I would turn off my headlamp and enjoy the stars and the moon lighting up the miles of exposed rock. We got to the pass and continued each in his own zombie-like fashion to the car; the final 2 miles being particularly brutal, yet somehow satisfying. The car to car time was 23.5 hours. After a 2 hours of sleep, we began our drive home.


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