For a rack we brought 1 set of nuts and a few tricams, one set of of BD Camalots to #3, 1/2 set of Metolius (alternate sizes to the equivalent of a #2 Camalot), and a full set of C3 Camalots. We only placed nuts for the anchor to save cams, and even there we mostly used pink, red and black tricams instead. We found having extras in small cams including the narrower and smaller C3s down do a #0 to be very helpful, especially for the first two pitches. If you are solid on 5.8 leading and climbing with a 60m rope, you could get by with closer to a single set of cams, since our rack worked well for 70m pitches.
According to Roper & Steck's "50 Classic Climbs of North America":
"Although the climb is usually done clean, it is advisable to carry five pitons in addition to a standard selection of twenty chocks"
This is no longer advisable. ;-)
From the summit, unrope and scramble north. About 200 ft later you will encounter a steep step (cl. 4). This is the crux of the Rock Route (IMHO one of the best cl. 4 scrambles in the Sierra) and here you have two options:
1. Continue on to downclimb the Rock Route. This is similar in nature and length to the East Face of Middle Palisade, but a bit harder and more exposed, so only do this if you have time and energy for lots of sustained downclimbing!
2. Turn left and switchback on some exposed but solid ledges to reach a rappel anchor. A single rope rappel trending climber's left brings you into a chute. From here cross the chute to a rib and downclimb the ridge about 100 ft to find our pimpin' rapp station. One more single rope rappel (or possibly some downclimbing) places you into a good chute for downclimbing. Basically, a single 60m rope and some downclimbing should easily get you down. From there, downclimb to Amphitheater Lake and traverse around Ken Minaret to South Notch where one more short rappel places you onto easy snow slopes for the remainder of the walk back to Cecile Lake.
The descent takes a while and would not be fun in the dark, especially if you haven't done it before, as it is exposed and would be hard to make sense of by headlamp. So make sure you aim to finish the route with at least enough daylight to get through the first two rappels. Otherwise you are in for an epic night descent or a likely summit bivy.Bailing:The route has a number of fixed pieces and bail gear everywhere. Nearly every pitch had some rappel setup, so with two ropes you can rappel the route, although be prepared to make some new rapp stations or leave a bit of gear.Route Topo:
I brought copies of three different topos and have this to say:
1. The topo on Mtn Project was utter junk. We rarely were on anything like that topo.
2. The topo from Moynier & Fiddler is pretty good, but a little vague and misleading at some critical junctions.
3. We had no trouble finding our way following the route description on SummitPost and using Peter Croft's topo in "The Good, the Great, and the Awesome". Bring these along!
For the most part, all of the pitches were very long and sustained, though there were many rest along the way. We only were able to link some pitches with a minumum of simul-climbing and not too much drag because we climbed with 70m doubles, so we trimmed the route to 10 pitches and could have trimmed it to 9 if I had set up the belay before the 5.8 traverse at a better spot to reduce drag. Be prepared to do the route as 12 pitches if you bring a 60m or a single rope!
Also, the route is long and fairly sustained, and some of the moves higher up are arguably as hard as any on the direct start. So if you think you climb hard and fast enough to do the route, you certainly can handle the 5.9+ start and absolutely should do it this way for two of the best pitches on the route! I have heard this route (without the direct start) described as a good 5.8 route for the solid 5.9 leader, and I'd agree.
The route sucks up gear, and nearly all of the moves can be well protected.
The face looks butt ugly and dirty in the shade, but in the sun it looks glorious. Apart from the occasional friable rock and some loose bits on the ledges in the middle pitches, the rock was very solid. The route was far cleaner and more solid than any of the aretes Temple Crag, at least!