I had heard tales of soaring Sierra virgin granite in the mysterious Cleaver Valley, a subdrainage tucked above Lower Boyscout Lake, safe from the hoards of turons who plod up the North Fork of Lone Pine Creek to get to the top of "the big one."
While other climbers heaved up to Whitney's east Face, Matt and I took a detour at Lower Boyscout Lake, up around some cliff bands, and made our way along a flowing creek. First Mt. Carillon appeared on our left, with the striking wave roof of The Pipeline halfway up a white granite face. Then the Cleaver came into view, a jagged wall ribbed with corners and painted with rusty colored dikes, dominating the back of the cirque. We set up camp and ate some lunch, then strolled up to the base of the Cleaver around noon. A prominent corner caught our eye, and we racked up...
The slab that led into the first main corner was runout and balancy. Despite being simply an "approach pitch," it kept my attention. We thought the next pitch would follow the wide crack in the corner to the roof above, but the crack turned into a seam. I hung on a cam to check out the crack system to my right. Suddenly the cam popped and I fell close to 40ft, upside down, and managed to ding my chin against the grainy rock. Shaken and a little bloody I lowered to the belay and let Matt finish the pitch, which he managed to do by linking crack systems to the right and up to a pedestal.
It was only 3pm, but the Cleaver had gone into the shade, and a warm dinner sounded better than cold climbing. We fixed a line straight to the ground and headed back to camp.
Camp wasn't much better. We ate dinner in the windy shade of Cleaver Valley with a view of the Northwest face of Lone Pine Peak basking in the warm sun. After a hot dinner and a couple nips of brandy, I crawled into my sleeping bag and thought about the adventure of climbing new territory in the morning.
We had a leisurely breakfast the next morning and ran up to the base of the Cleaver. We toproped the direct start which our fixed line hung over. 5 more pitches of varied climbing took us to the summit ridge and the awesome view of Tulainyo lake on the other side.
We decided to name the route "bloody cleaver" because of the blood that was left on the route. We got back to camp, which was colder and windier than the previous day, so we packed up and got out of there in time for beers and fries from the Whitney Portal store. The next day we did some climbing around Whitney Portal, which is incredible!
FA: Gil Weiss and Matt Othemr, September 12th, 2010
Bloody Cleaver, 5.10-, 6 or 7 pitches depending how you break it up.
Rack: 1 set stoppers, 1 blue tcu, 2 sets of cams from yellow tcu up to BD #3, 1 BD #4
60m rope, slings
We placed no bolts and left no tat or gear on the route.
Approach: about 100 meters before you get to Lower Boyscout lake, find a faint trail going north up the hill. find the best way around some cliffbands on thier left, and make your way along the left side of a stream up into Cleaver Valley.
Descent: traverse climbers left along the Cleaver ridge until you get to Cleaver Col. cross over the top of the 2 prominent gullies coming down from Cleaver col into Cleaver Valley. Drop down tallus and scree into Cleaver Valley.