Mount Silliman Kids Trip

31 Aug 1998 - by Ron Karpel

Starting from Rowel Meadow trailhead, we took 2 1/2 days of backpacking to get to the top of Silliman Pass. One could get here from Lodgepole in less then a day (9 mile, 4000 ft climb). But we took our time enjoying the Sierra.

From Silliman Pass we followed the ridge towards the summit of Mount Silliman. About a mile later Silliman lakes came into view. We dropped from the ridge, hiked by the lakes and up through the drainage to the saddle between Mount Silliman and the picklet to it's west. Mount Silliman is protected by a formidable cliff on its north and east sides. There is only one way to get to the top. It is a narrow couloir cutting through the cliff. The couloir is visible only once you have reached top of the saddle.

In spite of the hot sun, there was lots of snow in the area, ruminant of last winter's El Nino. The slope of the couloir was about 30 degree, and the snow was hard, but it didn't look too difficult. Still we didn't have ice axes or crampons, and we were not about to use them anyway. Without the ice gear there was no way to continue.

It is worth noting that the west side of the ridge looks doable. We didn't have enough time to try it though.

Once back at Silliman Pass, we set our eyes on Twins Peak. Just 1/4 of a mile from the pass, and it looked like a reasonable class 2. We though it would be an easy consolation prize. But a closer look revealed no easy way up. We finally were able to follow the ridge line to the top. It was a reasonable but airy class-3 friction climb.

Participants: Ahmad & Nolan Zandi, Dennis & Matt Rosman, Ron & Ethan Karpel.

Mark Adrian adds:

> Mount Silliman is protected by a formidable cliff on its
> north and east sides.  There is only one way to get to
> the top. It is a narrow couloir cutting through the cliff.
> The couloir is visible only once you have reached top of
> the saddle.

I soloed Silliman from the east (your "formidable cliff" route) last summer. RJ Secor rates it class two, I think it goes high 3rd. That "narrow couloir" you mention had snow in it last summer and also about three weeks ago when I did the peak via Silliman Creek. So, I don't think it's an El Nino phenomena. So, there are at least two ways to the top that I know of, three counting your snow couloir and I'm sure there are technical routes. I think I posted my report on lomap last season, perhaps it's on their website. [It's not. -- Webmaster] Getting down off the east "arete" without a rope, was one of my more memorable Sierra experiences.

Pat Ibbetson added:

Twin Peaks is generally regarded as a "hard" peak to climb, in fact that is a favorite place of Fresnans to learn rock climbing+mountaineering.

I would be very interested in hearing more details about the class 3 route you took up as my brother and I would love to climb this peak but he really has too little rock climbing experience for anything but really easy class 4.

When you get a chance, could you please let me know exactly where you started from when you got to the summit block, and any obstacles that you encountered on the ridge. I would really appreciate it!

Ron Karpel replied:

To climb Twins Peak (Sequoia NP): Starting from Silliman Pass, head North along the ridge and in about 1/4 of a mile veer left. Climb to the saddle between Twins Peak and the picklet to it's south (which would be an interesting climbing problem itself.) From the Saddle decent no more the 100 feet towards the West. If you stay close to the wall of Twins Peak, you will see several crack systems. Chose one that will allow you to climb the wall. There is a bit of route finding, but eventually you will get on the ridge proper. Now the fun begins. It is kind of steep and a little exposed, so you should have good Vibrim soles on your boots, or maybe climbing shoes. I had no problem getting good friction, but my friend needed quit a bit of encouragement. You can bring a long a rope. The "friction" sections are broken up with cracks every so often, so you will have plenty of places for setting belay. The whole thing is no more then 300 ft. Coming down was easier then going up (for a change.)

There is also a shorter climb on the Northwest face. But it looks more like class-4. And there are plenty of nice looking class 5 on all other sids.

Right on the saddle there is an interesting looking mushroom rock. I think it may be possible to throw a rope over the mushroom to protect an interesting looking mental push to the top.


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