This is a classic long-day alpine route on good rock with some unique features, not least of which is a Tyrolean traverse. Most people start from an obvious crack in a left-facing dihedral (as seen in Mike Morley's picture here near a big grey scar, some distance (300'? 500'?) from the base of the snowfield and the start of Dark Star. The main drawback is the descent through Contact Pass, though you could bypass that by traversing to Gayley and Sill...
This route has many variations and it's wise to take a topo unless you've climbed a lot on Temple. A good topo can be found in Croft's book or the High Sierra Supertopo book (the latter has some errors). However, Bruce Bindner (R.I.P.) posted a better topo right here; it's the best I've seen and you will appreciate it once on the route.
The rock on the route is overall pretty solid, but there are plenty of loose blocks that could kill you if you got careless. It would be a good idea to start early (regardless of whether you plan the ascent car-to-car or from a camp site) because Temple is plenty exposed to electrical storms. When Scott and I climbed the route, a storm blew in after we had passed the crux, my hair stood up, and the rope started making crackling noises... luckily for us the storm changed directions and did not get any nastier. Check the weather beforehand!
The first pitch of the route can be seen in Mike Morley's picture among the 'Beta photos'. It is near a large grey scar and a says uphill from the toe of the Dark Star buttress. It's a good idea to start early and go fast, because the descent requires some attention; Contact Pass is unpleasant no matter how you approach it. A single-rope rappel from the rightmost rappel station should plop you down onto the scree, and from there it's mostly slogging back to the snowfield and your campsite (or the trail and your car).
If you're camping, a good idea is to pitch your tent at Second Lake, and then walk over in the afternoon to kick steps in the soft snow leading up to the base of the route. In the morning the steps will have hardened. Going car-to-car, a set of lightweight aluminum crampons will be helpful in early season.
Alpine rack -- some nuts, a few cams, many slings.
Mar 6, 2007
We always camp as close to the base as possible, it is a bit of a hike from 2nd (and even 3rd) Lake.
Water is usually not an issue with glacial melt. You can often crawl behind the glacier to approach this route on loose/sandy rock. This obliviates the need for axes/crampons.
Contact Pass can get messy quick, after you dropped down from the buttress proper (scary 4th or a rappel) I recommend that you "stay high and right"--don't get drawn into the large talus.
Alternately, if there is enough snow you can glissade large portions of Contact nearer to the buttress.
From: Sacramento, CA
Jun 13, 2007
We camped at Third Lake and that worked well for us, but Second Lake also works. From Third Lake, it is a mere 45-minute hike up a talus slope to the base of the steep snowfield. Getting up the snowfield might be the crux of the route, depending on the conditions. With only approach shoes (no crampons or boots) and one ice axe each, we were able to kick/chop steps, but it cost us over an hour to reach the rope-up ledge. From there, you can toss your axe and hope it reaches the base of the snowfield to retrieve on your descent.
The route: after ascending the snowfield for a few hundred feet, gain a rock band and scramble up to a large ledge. Walk to the far right edge of the ledge and rope up at the base of a left-facing corner system. Ascend this (5.6). The next 2-3 pitches are 3rd/easy 4th class scrambling. Another 3 full pitches brings you to the top of the Second Gendarme, where you will need to set up a tyrolean traverse to cross! This is the most fun and memorable part of the route. Toss a loop of rope across the gap, aiming for a horn of rock about 20' on the other side. Once you have successfully looped it, secure both ends of the rope on your side, and tyrolean across the gap. Re-rig for the second to retrieve your rope. From here, more scrambling and a couple of short rappels brings you to the route's crux - a steep 5.9 hand and fist crack on the left side of the arete. Climb this, then traverse right at a slung block (crux). This section is rated 5.10a in the Croft guidebook. Continue up crack system to easier ground. Several more easy pitches (mostly 5.5ish) from here along the sometimes knife-edge ridge lead to 4th class and eventually 3rd class to the summit.
Descent involves one single-rope rap to Contact Pass.
From: Altadena, CA
Jul 24, 2007
After Bruce posted his topo, I could hardly be excused for failing to update the route description, and so I've revised it to include all of the detailed information everyone here has contributed.
It's a great route and I certainly enjoyed it (although the electrical storm that paid us a visit scared the shit out of me).
From: Oakland, CA
Sep 23, 2008
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Hard-pressed to think of a route I've enjoyed more. Absolutely stellar.
One tip: bring about 5 or 6 feet of untied webbing if you plan to do the left (5.9 crack to face traverse) version of the crux. You'll be glad you did when you find the tied sling currently in place.
Know also that there are many errors in the ST topo - Croft is a much better source for this climb.
We simuled every pitch except the crux, and still did the descent in the dark. This is a (gloriously) long route.
426's advice to stay high and right in Contact is gold, and crucial, especially if you descend in the dark.
From: Sacramento, CA
Jan 30, 2009
FA: Don Jensen & John Fischer - Sept 1969
|By Bruce Bindner|
May 4, 2009
Topo added. Hope it helps. Feedback appreciated.
From: Oakland CA
Jul 20, 2009
Fun route, very long, should keep you going for a while! I know it's the Sierra, but this one just had too much loose rock for me to give it 4 stars. Having done Venusian with the same partner the previous summer, we both agreed that Venusian is a much more solid route. Much more tick tacking around the loose crap on Sun Ribbon.
From: Boise, ID
Jun 28, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
So much fun! The coolest climb I've ever done! From the start of pitch one to the summit took about 8.5 hours. We were able to simulclimb almost all of the route, I think we only pitched out 4 of the 20 pitches (pitch 1, pitch between tyrolean and crux, crux, and one other).
We mostly followed the topo on this site, which is very good. Passing the third gendarme we went to the right, and found the 5.7 traverse moves to be somewhat tricky (my partner thought it was more difficult than the 5.10a "crux" on the following pitch).
For the crux pitch, the supertopo shows two options, both of which are supposed to go at 5.10a. The option to the left (which is what the topo on this page shows) follows a crack on the left side of the arete to a 5.10a exit move, and the option on the right has a 5.10a face traverse protected by two pitons to a 5.9 crack. Both looked fun. We chose the option on the right and found the climbing very fun and exposed, if a bit soft for 5.10a. The traverse is a little thin, but it's only one or two moves and then you gain the excellent crack. If I ever repeat this climb I think I'll try the other option. After the end of the 5.9 crack I ran the 60m rope all the way to to the end up steep fun climbing on positive holds. That was an awesome pitch!
Unfortunately I didn't get to experience the "unpleasant" scree of Contact Pass that I've heard so much about, since we were able to glissade almost all of it! What a great way to cap off an excellent day!
|By Mike Flanagan|
From: Boone, NC
Jul 19, 2011
So much longer than expected. The topo had us thinking that we would be mostly done after the 30' rappel into the notch, but this was definitely not the case, as there was quite a bit of climbing left. After the notch rappel I headed right and climbed a pretty sketchy pitch of bad rock that seemed more difficult than the 5.4 I expected..I was down and right of the " 3" crack" described in the topo. After that we climbed back up to the arete proper and stayed on it almost to its end, where we downclimbed a bit and then scrambled mostly 4th class to the top.
From: Bishop, CA
Jul 25, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
We brought a 30m and roped up only for the crux section; this will get you to the 5.6 terrain. I suck at 3.5" cracks but was fine leading with only a 3" cam. All of the towers are downclimbable at 5.7 or less. Em and Bruce's topo was extremely helpful.
From: Big Pine, CA
Jul 27, 2011
I just climbed Sun Ribbon a couple of days ago. We simul-climbed all the way to the Tyrollean traverse. The Tyrollean went pretty quickly. Then we did a mixture of pitching and simul-climbing. It gets a little loose the higher you go but definitely manageable. The route finding wasn't a big issue, it is a ridge climb so no matter which specific line you take gets you to the same place at roughly the same difficulty. We brought 8 shoulder length slings, a set of BD Camelots one each to a #3, one set of stoppers, and eight quickdraws. The gear we brought seemed to do the trick just fine. As for the descent, once we rapped down into contact pass there was still enough snow pack that you can glissade for most of the descent. It was a great climb but I do regret not bringing bug spray (I hike up here all the time and I knew better but I would rather forget the bug spray than my harness)!
|By Justin Tomlinson|
From: Monrovia, CA
Jan 28, 2012
An historical perspective, this route was rated IV, 5.8 in Steve Roper's "Climber's Guide to the High Sierra" in 1976.
He writes, "This is an exposed, committing, and difficult route." Of the crux he writes, "Enter the obvious, left-facing crack above either directly from its base (5.9) or via a delicate traverse (5.8) from the left. Steep and difficult climbing leads upward...."
From: Truckee, CA
Oct 20, 2012
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Don't skip the tyrolean, tons of fun. Definitely top out and try to get to the rap before dark. My headlamp broke in my pack so descending at night was terrible. We only brought 1 #3 but were wishing we had another for the 5.9 section on the crux pitch. Route finding is straightforward, look for cairns for the descent.
From: Mojave, CA
Jun 30, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Approach: avoid the snow and scramble up the broken ledges on the right hand side. I don't know why anyone would risk going up that snowfield with the other option available.
I highly recommend using a 30m rope. The 30m will keep the drag low, get you through the crux pitch, set you up for an easy belay, and allow you to rap to a nice ledge on the descent with 20' of 5.0 downclimbing to Contact Pass. A rope any longer will just give you more trouble than it's worth.
|By Connor Newman|
From: Reno, NV
Aug 4, 2014
This is a great climb, gets a bit wandery at the top but still excellent. Most of the climbing is less than 5.5 it seemed like, so my partner and I found it nice to just place gear sparingly on most pitches (4-5 pieces per pitch keeps rope drag low) and stretch the rope. Doing it this way we did 10 pitches, plus simul-climbing both at the bottom and top. This seemed way easier and faster than doing it in the 20-22 pitches listed on most topos.