SE Face Emerson, 5.4 Grade II

This is a classic ridge scramble out of the Bishop Lakes area.  Emerson has a bit of everything one would look for on an alpine scramble.  It’s got 5th class climbing, easy 2nd class terrain that you can move quickly in and then very exposed 3rd and 4th class on an incredible ridge line finish.  Making it an excellent intermediate level route.

The Details:

There’s tons of information out there on the route and the ‘nuts and bolts’ (re. Mountain Project).  I’m going to focus on a few highlights and how the route feels.


The approach is quick and is the most straight forward and short approach I’ve done in years.  The 5th class climbing is right at the start and only lasts a few hundred feet.  While none of the moves were hard on the Waterfall route (traditional start) the rock is steep, water polished, and slippery. I certainly think a short section of rope and a few pieces of climbing gear are a nice added security.   Eventually, the route enters a broader gully that you continue to scramble (quite a ways up) until you reach a notch.  Depending on comfort level some people may not need a rope in this long section.  From the first notch, the route heads left towards the summit quickly gaining a second notch on the true ridge.  Now it is an exposed and spectacular ridgeline.


This is where my video starts (we were moving so fast having fun earlier I forgot to even take the camera out).


This route requires, building trad anchors, multi-pitch climbing, route finding skills at the notch, and a rock climbing background to feel confident in this terrain.  Competency in these areas can make the difference between a moderate half-day effort or a full day epic.


Rescues have increased on Emerson.  I urge everyone to please evaluate their skills and preparation before doing this route.  

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