TRIP REPORT: Two Eagle Peak- The Diamond Grade III 5.6
This was a backcountry climb done in July 2020. It’s a great option for experienced climbers looking to get off the beaten track when exploring the Palisades drainage.
THE CLIMB- Listed a Grade III 5.6- feels more like grade IV 5.6-5.10+
Climbing grades are always an interesting thing in the backcountry. In the backcountry moderate routes don’t have as distinct of a line and it’s easy to find yourself in easier or harder terrain. This climb is a bit different. The start is very clear because it’s the only weakness that could possibly take you up the steep face at 5.6. Your first route-finding challenge is gaining the upper ridge. We chose a left side weakness that looked moderate but ended up with an overhanging flared roof crack-definitely 5.10. The following pitch went more like 5.9 to gain the ridge. Perhaps if you followed a ledge system to the right where we went left you could stay on the 5.6.
The other weirdness about this climb is the grade III (meaning a partial day). This grade seems to only include the 10 pitches it takes to gain the ridge. It doesn’t include the time it takes to navigate the exposed 3rd (more like 4th) class terrain to the true summit and get off the top. This ridge traverse while not hard was exposed and tedious and took MANY more pitches of simul-climbing (5ish pitches I think). Unless you bail down a gully shortly after gaining the ridge- budget for this to be more like a grade IV climb.
THE GEAR: Your regular alpine kit
Pack an alpine rack and a 60m rope. The average party should not go into this climb expecting to simul much until the ridgeline.
THE APPROACH: A long long way from home…
You get here from the North Fork of Big Pine creek. The same trail you take to gain access to the Palisades and Temple Crag-except farther. I recommend taking the black lake spur if you are hiking up in the morning. This was more direct with great views and morning shade. It would roast you in the full sun. Return via the main trail drainage which takes you past all the camping for Temple Crag. The hike was around 15 miles round trip.
It’s worth considering a camp at the 5th lake along the trail. This would keep energy high for the climb.
I think this is a good option for experienced alpine climbers- looking for something new. It’s got all the elements needed to be a worthy and fun adventure. I would not recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have MANY backcountry routes under their belt. The climbing is more sustained (steep and sometimes overhanging). You should have a good eye for rock quality- much of this route had loose rocks that would be a death sentence if they pulled down onto the rope or belayer. Route finding was tricky. Don’t do this route if you aren’t already a 5.10 trad and backcountry climber. Even if you intend to stay on the 5.6 you never know.
All in all, I thought this climb was far more sustained and in some ways interesting than any of the routes my partner or I have done on Temple Crag (Sun Ribbon, Venusian, Dark Star. Temple might be more esthetic, but this is a solid and worthy adventure.