Third Time's the Charm on Whitney Crest

Posted on: October 26, 2010

Climbing in the shadow of the summit of Mt. Whitney, Hjoerdis Zeugswetter approaches the top of the 9th pitch of Fourth Pillar. [Photo] Bernd Zeugswetter

The Whitney Crest of the Sierra Nevada stands bare and decisive in a valley of evergreens and bleached granite, a series of sharp pillars extending south from the summit of Mt. Whitney. As a local mountain guide and nature photographer, Austrian transplant Bernd Zeugswetter has been contemplating this ridge for many years. This summer, along with his wife Hjoerdis and friend Greg Corliss, he set out to establish a new line on the Fourth Pillar.


They made two attempts in June and July, camping under full moons and returning unsuccessful after long days of precarious aretes and sandy cracks. When the moon swelled again on August 21, the trio left Bernd and Hjoerdis' s 3-year old son at camp with his grandmother and scrambled over piles of loose stone left by the eroding mountainside to begin their third attempt.

Twelve hours later, they stood together at the top of the tower, calling their route simply The East Side of the Fourth Pillar. The group plans to return and see if they can free the whole line, but for now the ten pitch route stands at 5.11, A1. For more pictures and a first person account visit the Zeugswetter's blog at

The Whitney Crest, showing The East Face of the Fourth Pillar (5.11, A1). [Photo] Bernd Zeugswetter

Sources: Bernd Zeugswetter,
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