Mount Whitney: East Buttress

John Moynier & Claude Fiddler

"Norman Clyde described the attractive eastern facade of Mt. Whitney, “It is from the seldom-visited vantage points that Mt. Whitney is most imposing . . . spectacular to a degree that would surprise those that have only seen it from the usual viewpoints.” Scanning Mt. Whitney's east face on the evening before the first ascent of the east face of the peak, Glen Dawson and Jules Eichorn expressed their desire to tackle the more attractive east buttress. However, Clyde and Underhill held firm to their chosen line to the left of the buttress. Dawson returned to the east buttress of Mt. Whitney in 1937 with another group of Sierra Club climbers. Taking the lead, he was impressed as the line continually opened before him. Every time a difficult impasse blocked his way, a short detour off the prow led to easier ground. Nearing the top, they passed a huge, distinctive looking block, which they dubbed the “Pee Wee Pillar.” A year later, the route was repeated by another Sierra Club group including Ruth Dyar Mendenhall, who modestly noted the “Pee Wee Route is now more decorously referred to as the East Buttress.” The East Buttress became Dawson's favorite climb in the High Sierra, and he was to repeat it many times. Dawson was one of the finest rock climbers in the country in his day, and his first ascent of the Mechanics Route (5.8) at Tahquitz Rock was considered one of the hardest climbs done prior to World War II. Many climbers name this as their choice for the single best route in the Sierra. Long-time Sierra climber Bob Rockwell agreed, stating, “As I think back on my past mountain experiences, this has to be my favorite Sierra climb. After 3 pitches, the rope was still in the pack and I told my partner, ‘I think the hardest part is behind us.' We kept going and the rope stayed where it was for the remainder of the climb. We didn't expect to climb the route solo, we just did.”"


From the Guidebook: Climbing California's High Sierra

Rock Climbing