Mount Starr King

15 Jul 1995 - by Harlan Suits

"Mount Starr King is the most symmetrical and beautiful of all the dome shaped masses around the Yosemite. Its summit is absolutely inaccessible. It will never be trodden by human foot."

Josiah Dwight Whitney

I climbed Mt. Starr-King with my friend Doug Mohr on 7/15. We climbed the northeast face, the standard route. According to the register, it was the first ascent of 1995.

Friday night we crashed on a dirt road a few miles south of the Wawona entrance station. The Wawona ranger had, reluctantly, agreed to leave our permit taped to the outside of the ranger station so we could pick it up Friday night.

From the Mono Meadows trailhead on the Glacier Point road, we hiked about 5 miles to our camp. Illouette Creek was raging, but fortunately we found a logjam that made for a practical yet exciting crossing.

Our plan was to find the closest campsite to the mountain that still had water. We followed a branch of the creek all the way up to the base of the southernmost dome of the Starr-King massif. This required a good hour and a half of uphill cross-country. Although a fire has cleared away some of the brush in this area, we still had to work hard to minimize tedious bushwacking through manzanita. This approach is probably why more people don't climb Starr-King.

After pitching camp, we headed up the mountain at 3:30. We contoured up around the east side of the massif to the saddle between the southern and middle dome, then clambered up the granite slabs of the middle dome to its top, which is a stone's throw from the base of the northernmost (summit) dome of Starr-King.

The southeast face is a fun, low-angle slab climb-two pitches no harder than about 5.4. We summited around 6:00. From the top we could see clearly see the white streamer of Yosemite Falls in the distance and ample snow on the north side of the Merced Crest, the west slopes of the Clark Range above 9000 feet, and Mt Hoffman to the north.

On the descent, we added fresh slings to the decrepit rappel anchors. With two ropes we were able to descend the route in two raps.

We returned to camp for a hearty spaghetti dinner and some unwelcome guests: a few hundred voracious mosquitos. We botched our bearbag attempt by getting the end of our cord, to which we had tied a rock, stuck in a tree. Still, no bears disturbed our jury-rigged setup.

On Sunday we hiked out in the morning, beating the heat by baptizing ourselves in the bone-chilling waters of Illouette Creek.

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