Hooper & Julius Caesar
14 Aug 1999 - by David Harris
I led my brother Douglas and younger cousins Baikal (age 15) and
Clancy (age 11) on a trans-sierra backpacking trip during the second
week of August.
From Seldon pass, Baikal and I set out in the late afternoon to climb
Mt. Hooper. We brought a 25 meter rope, small rack, and handful of
slings in anticipation of the 4th class summit block. As we approached
the mountain, my eyes were drawn to the striking fluted east face with
steep aretes and chutes rising to the overhanging summit block. The
standard route approaches from a notch to the south of the peak and the
mountain is also commonly climbed from the north (not listed in Secor).
We decided to attempt a route up the prominent east arete just right of
the gully that leads directly to the summit. The angle was very steep,
but the rock looked well fractured.
We scrambled up some sand and slabs to a sloping ramp leading
under an arete just left of center of the peak and across the gully at the
center of the face to the base of the arete. The arete climbs steeply at
first, then becomes flatter and has a jagged notch. It crests right at the
summit block of the peak. We belayed six pitches of 4th class and
simulclimbed one more (with a proper 50 meter rope, this should amout
to about 3 roped pitches). The climbing was a very enjoyable classic
Sierra ridge ascent featuring good solid holds all the way with the
exception of a few areas of looser rock where the angle
backs off. The exposure was dramatic and the scenery
beautiful on an otherwise insignificant summit.
As we believe this may have been a first ascent, I name the route
"Baikal's Arete." If anyone has evidence to the contrary, I would
appreciate a report. The gully just left of the arete looks
like it would probably also go at 4th class; the next ridge
to the left has some steep blankish parts and might offer a
bit of 5th class climbing before it eases off.
Later in the trip, Baikal and I climbed Julius Caesar from Lake Italy via
what Secor calls a "classic" 3rd class West Ridge. We
zoomed up the hump west of the true peak and encountered a
few bits of fun 3rd class by taking on a cliff band
directly; we could easily have bypassed the cliffs and avoided
unnecessary altitude by cutting to the right. We then ascended the ridge to
old Julius. I stayed within 10 feet of the crest of the
ridge and made almost all of the moves with no hands, making
the route nearly class 1, but in a few places I started to
topple and needed to place my wrists against the rock,
technically granting the ridge class 2 status. Nowhere on
the route could we find anything resembling classic 3rd
class like Arrow Peak or Mt. Russell. Has anyone found Secor's route?
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