The four of us were brimming with excitement as we geared up to climb the West Ridge of Prusik Peak with the sun rising behind the lofty tower across the valley. Despite only 170' of prominence, Prusik Peak holds a great deal of importance and regard within and beyond the climbing community due to its rich history and highly photogenic south face.
This would be mine and Colin's first real multi-pitch alpine trad climb so we started at first light in hopes of traversing east to summit Temple Mountain before returning to base camp. A light wind helped to keep mosquitos at bay while we set up anchors below the first pitch. Nick and Rob started up first, placing pro sparingly up to the first of three prominent horns. We swung leads in the shade up to the third pitch. Fred Beckey's piton is still fixed below the friction slab, which Rob and Colin led with finesse.
I backed down from a layback-to-mantle move at the top of an expanding crack. Colin bailed me out, then as he took in the rope from the top of the last pitch, the rope was hopelessly wedged into the crack above. "Your on belay!", I heard from above. "No I'm not!" After a moment of panicked thought, Nick radioed in a suggestion. Colin kept a tight belay and I started the final pitch in true fashion, ascending via prusiks.
Nick lifted our bags to ease the final step to the summit through the chimney. We celebrated in the sunshine and wasted little time before setting up the first rappel at a chock stone toward the east. It took us nearly 7 hours to reach the summit. Needless to say this was a great learning experience for us all. Two double-rope rappels brought us to scrambling territory and we traversed on level back to the balanced rock for our shoes and trekking poles.
With well over 5 hours of daylight left we might have squeezed on Temple, but we all quickly agreed to call it a day. The climb had been mentally exhausting, and we needed some good rest before the big traverse to Argonaut in the morning. We detoured past Gnome tarn on the way back to the trail for a break before returning to camp for well deserved dinner.