This description details the following climbs: South Arete of South
Early Winter's Spire, Beckey Route on Liberty Bell, and Direct North
Face of Concord Tower (September, 1994). Also included is the
Direct E. Buttress of S Early Winter's (July 4, 1997).
We drove up, camped and got an early start (5 am). We first hiked to
the South Early Winter's Spire and climbed the south arete. This is a
nice, easy climb. (5.4?, about 4 pitches).
Next, we descended a little and sidled over to the gully which
separates Liberty Bell and Concord Tower and scrambled the gully.
When we reached the notch, there was one party on the route, and one
waiting. We hung out and got cold for about an hour, waiting for the
climbers ahead of us to make progress. Eventually we got onto the
route and found it very enjoyable. On the descent we decided to do a
double rope rap even though we saw slings halfway down. This turned
into a minor nightmare when one of the ropes got caught up. My
partner, Vic, had to climb back up to retrieve it.
After Liberty Bell, we decided to try to bag Concord tower. We
should've climbed the Cave route, but instead tried the normal route,
which was quite wet. Vic, lead the first pitch, and I got the second.
All the water intimidated me and I headed onto the face to the right
of the route. This climbing got increasingly hard as the rock got
more and more rotten. Eventually I gained a wide crack and managed to
sling a rotten horn. I climbed the crack and then the face to the
right of the crack, when it got too wide for me. Eventually the crack
narrowed to accept my largest piece (#2 Camelot), which made me feel a
little better. I finished the pitch, and then my partner lead one
easier pitch to the summit. We flopped onto the summit slab and took
in the scenery and fading sunlight. We rapped the normal route and
sped down the gully, just in time to get mildly lost in the forest
below and have a small argument about how to find the path. Vic, of
course, was correct and we found the trail in short order and we cruised
under headlamps back to the car.
A single rope will do for all of these climbs, as will a small rack.
The Concord Tower route we climbed, which shares a start with the
standard route (first pitch), but then runs more or less directly up
from the top of the first pitch (rather than meandering to the left)
and accessess the summit slab on its right side, is not in any guide
book, but looks as if it's been climbed before. It is a pretty ugly
route, is probably not much harder than 5.8, but is scary due to loose
sections of unprotected face climbing and a somewhat hard to protect
crack, bring bigger gear for this one.
16 hours, car to car, for all three summits. There are probably a
total of 10-12 roped pitches.
A fantastic climb. Climbed with Kari Stiles. We had the place to
ourselves and great weather. Got a leisurley start (8 am at hairpin)
and reached the climbing at 10. Lots of snow still, which was tough
after we dropped our boots and axes near the big tree (last big tree)
in the approach/descent gully. The topo in the new Beckey edition is
very good, but here are a few notes:
Descend the trade route via simul downcliming and 3-4 single rope raps when
going gets steep. Then scramble continuation of the S Arete to notch. One
rap over really rotten rock reaches the snow (water!).
- Easy, but start as high as possible, to make the 3rd pitch. Kari.
- A little harder (maybe 5.4), again, run out as much rope as
possible, b/c the 3rd is long. Ben.
- Crux pitch in a way. Following with pack was definitely hard.
Kari pulled the overhang to the right to enter a chimney. I pulled it
left (the standard way) which was probably 9+. The crack widens after
the overhang (20-30 ft to belay) but protects w/ 2 and 3 camalots in
narrower spots. The rock is somewhat manky in places: I suffered several
direct hits at the belay. Great lead by Kari.
- 30 ft of 5.8 hand crack (good rests and decent pro) to a block.
Move left protected by very manky bolt. Turn corner and climbing
eases through trees to large, comfy ledges. Watch rope drag. Ben.
- Bolt ladder. Pull on bolts over crest. Belay at nice 3 bolt
(semi hanging) belay, just past flake and before 5.10 crack. (Could
continue, but rope drag.) Kari.
- Short pitch, probably the nicest crack on the whole climb, to a not
very good belay. Kari.
- Traverse up and right (scary moves right off belay) to reach 1st
bolt in 20 (?) ft. Move to get to bolt was scary. Nice bolt, but
otherwise the pro is pretty non-existent. Then more climbing to
legdes. Look left to find bolt ladder. There are many more bolts
than indicated on topo on this ladder. Ladder stops below a rotten
arch (fixed stopper). This would probaby go free at 9/10, but I aided
it. Free move to mantle, which isn't that bad. A few more bolts to
next mantle, also not that hard. I continued up to trees to belay
(last bolt is old). Rope drag. Pretty wild pitch, everything considered.
Scary faceclimbing, aid, weird mantles, exposure. Ben.
- Long 5.6 to tree ledge. Kari.
- Finish is strange. I went up to reach left trending ramp below friction
slab headwall. Walk left and around to easier face climbing to top of
sub summit, then over to top left corner, where there is a weird move
off of sub summmit to ridge. Belayed here w/ tons of rope drag.
- Easy ridge scrambling to main summit (simul climb for 1.5 pitches),
probably could simul climb previous pitch too, but it is pretty exposed.
8AM at hairpin. Climbing at 10AM. Summit at 6:30PM. Reached packs at
dusk (9:30). We probably climbed aid sections a little slowly.
We took 1.5 set stoppers (doubling on medium sizes). One set would
have been ok. Cams: 2 #2 TCUs, Friends #s 1, 1.5, and 2. Camalots
.5, .75, 1 (x2), 2 (x2), 3. We only brought 2-3 double slings, should
have had 4-6. Need lots of free biners for aid section (30?): I
needed to use biners from cams and finally my chock pick biner on the
second aid pitch. The second one meanders so longer runners or back
cleaning is useful.
Climbed it again. This time I led the "odd" pitches. The easy first
pitch, the sustained 5.9 dihedral, the first bolt ladder, etc. By the
time I finished the first bolt ladder, I didn't have the juice to do
the 5.10 crack leading to the second bolt ladder, so I made Nate lead
it, which he did brilliantly. I definitely wore myself out futzing
around under the roof on pitch 3. Perhaps I was still worn out from
the Forbidden trip a few days earlier.... who knows. Car to car in
about 11 hours.
Issues/Notes: There is now a well-established rappel route, or so it
seems. As I remember, from bottom to top: at the base of the second
pitch there is a tree anchor; at the top of the 5.9 (tree anchor); the
double-bolt pseudo hanging belay on the first bolt ladder should/might
get you down to the base top of the 5.9 pitch (this is questionable,
but should work b/c the 4th pitch is short); and then there are 2 more
tree anchors above and a 2 bolt anchor on the sub summit. This would
mean 6 double rope raps to the easier ground... This means it seems
possible to leave shoes and junk at the base and climb with a much
lighter (or no) pack at all, as long as you take two ropes. If I did
it again, I might try it this way -- following the aid pitches with a
pack seems much harder than leading them!
Rack: 1 set of stoppers; double set of cams to #3 camalot (11-12 in
all); 10 QDs, 6 single length, 3 double length. If I did it again,
I'd just bring one #3, but definitely double up on hand/finger sized
cams. 10 cams feels about right. The number of slings/qds was
perfect, although 2 double slings is ok.
Time: round trip to car 12 hours. Climbing time, 7 hours. The key to
climbing this route fast is really blasting through the aid pitches.
For some reason, they always take us longer than they seem like they
should... Possibly simul climbing all the way to the base of the
first hard pitch and simul climbing from the top of the last bolt
ladder. That reduces the climb to 5 pitches: 5.9, 5.8, bolt ladder,
5.10 crack, bolt ladder.
This is the East gully between the S and N spires. We attempted it in
early April 1998. All I can really say is that the gully would make a
fantastic climb in good conditions. We had wonderful snow conditions,
but by the time we reached the first (steep) pitch of the gully, it
was snowing (hard), and by the time T lead the pitch, we started
getting blasted by spindrift avalanches. It got pretty scary until T
managed to downclimb the steep bit and we fled with our tails between
our legs. T nearly chopped the rope on the downclimb and I nearly got
knocked off my stance by the power of the snow. T reported more
moderate angles after the steep step. From the road, there appeared
to be a small chockstone at 2/3 height and a possible cornice problem
at top. Snow was good picket snow, but there was water ice around the
chockstone at the bottom of the gully. Advise a small rock rack
(including pins?), pickets and a couple of screws.
Early Winter's Gully (2nd attempt, mid-May 2001)
Scary scary scary. We made it up and over the first steep step,
thanks to some brave climbing by Sven (poor ice conditions). Above,
lots of soft snow up to maybe 50 degrees, but seemed pretty
consolodated, so we continued upwards, reaching the chockstone at 2/3
height pretty quickly (we simul climbed). I set up a belay about 20
feet under the chockstone when the first avalanche came. It entered
the gully below me and above Sven. Sven got hit pretty good, but hung
on. Afterwards, he sped upwards. I was pretty sheltered by the
chockstone -- or so I thought until the second avalanche came down,
entering the gully above the chockstone and sideswiping me. Sven was
protected below and left in an alcove, while removing a pin. Sven
came up, checked out the chockstone -- the only feasable path seems to
be to the right, but it was running with water, devoid of ice and a
deathtrap should another snowpatch fail. The left was overhung and
running with water. Cool views from up here, but we didn't enjoy
them. We decided to bail -- speeding downwards in simul-climb mode.
Sven stopped above the steep step (the location of our first belay)
and we started mucking about looking for a good pin placement when the
3rd, and biggest avalanche came down. We were over to the left -- and
happy to be after we saw the groove this one had scoured in the bottom
of the gully. We rapped (quickly) over the step and hurried down the
the car. Make sure snow conditions are good: Beckey even says: Beware
of snowpatches that could fail... Basically, if there's not a lot of
evidence that the gully has cleaned itself recently (if you're there
after a good snowfall) I would stay very far away. Also, the gully on
the north side of the North Ppire looks amazing: more continuous than
our gully and steeper too.
We took double ropes, tools, pins (2 small angles (one of which is
still there), 3 KBs, 2 LAs), stoppers, 5 cams, 2 pickets, 4 ice screws
(useless at that time).
This is a fun route, maybe 5.8 in difficulty. The Beckey topo is
pretty on the mark, but here's some beta. We traversed onto the
route via the descending ledge system from the gully on the right to
reach the base of the wide crack. Simul climb all the way up to the
base of this crack, and then make the first belay from there. This
allows one to climb the 80ft wide crack, as well as the left facing
5.5 open book after wards in one pitch. Make a belay in the easy
ground above, and from there climb the nervous 5.6+ (120 ft) slab
pitch to the belay block above. From here, the entire rest of the
route can be simul climbed. We didn't plan our belays quite so well,
and tried to climb from the base of 5.5 book all the way to the top of
the 5.6 slab in one pitch -- this is about 200+ feet, and obviously
not possible with a 50m rope.
Time: 2 hours approach. 3 hours on route. 1+ hour for descent.
Rack: twin 9mm ropes (one would be sufficient). 1 set of stoppers and
cams up to #3 camalot (double on 2 and 3 but single would have been
more than sufficient).
Did the Bell again. We left the summit of the South Spire at
about 2, reached our gear around 3:30. We traversed over to
Liberty Bell, checked out a cute goat feeding at the start of
the standard route. We started climbing around 4:30 or so and
reached the top by 6. The descent went well, except for getting
the rope hung up (high winds). In fading light I had to go up and
get the rope -- we made the car by nightfall (8:15pm)...
Another fun route. Take the last gully up to a notch in the ridge.
The best strategy is probably to put on rock shoes and dump gear at
the broken rock to the right of the gully mouth -- it's easier
climbing these slabs up and left into the gully, and much easier on
the descent, because you can rap right back to your gear. Plus,
the nasty gully feels somewhat more secure in rockshoes...
From the notch you can go left or right -- we went right. A bit of
steep climbing gets you onto easy climbing on the right side of the
ridge which can be simul climbed to where the ridge steepens. Here
you'll see a somewhat nasty looking chimney/gully which can probably
be climbed direct, but we traversed out left and then eventually back
up. I assume that the options meet again below an even steeper
section, where as always there are options. We climbed a nice crack
system, with some airy moves followed by a squeeze/flaring chimney,
followed by a nice hand/fist crack in a dihedral. Above this, some
more steps lead up and left to a headwall area between the two
sub-summits. Here is a gravelly gully/chimney system that is pretty
nasty. There are a few cracks lower down (on the right), as well as a
fixed pin about 2/3 of the way up. In retrospect, closer examination
of the crack system to the right might have been easier & safer. At
any rate, all this leads to a sandy basin between the two humps. At
this point, we'd been moving for about 5 hours without pause and we
stopped for a quick lunch before heading off to tag the summit. A
half hour later we were on the summit.
Descent: Rap rap rap the route. There are good anchors in place. Due
to the nature of the route, one rope is not only sufficient, but
recommended. It's a couple raps to get off the summit, wander back to
the humps, and then it's about 8-9 more raps back to just before the
start notch. Rather than dropping back into the start notch see the
fat anchor on a tree that lets you drop into the descent gully (this
is why it's better to leave gear at the bottom of the gully). Do an
80 ft. rap to ledges and then go left (looking down the gully) a few
feet. Here find a nice rap anchor on a horn that we added that allows
a speedy descent to easy ground below. When the going gets a little
nasty again, look for more rap anchors that allow you to reach the
slabs of the lower gully (angling left, when facing down across the
gully to its left side) and a final set that will let you drop back
down to level ground. Yes, most of the gully can be pretty easily
downclimbed (except for the top and bottom sections), but it's
incredibly dirty, and nervewracking -- a fall would be nasty.
Rack: twin 9mm ropes (one would be sufficient -- we climbed the whole
thing on a single, doubled 9mm rope. 80 ft was more than long enough
for any sections of real difficulty). 1 set of stoppers and cams up
to #3 camalot.
Time: 2 hours to start of climbing. 4 hours to summit. 3 hours on
technical portion descent + 1.5 more back to car.
Repeated this climb. Notables: snow all the way down to the parking
lot made the approach and descent fast. We left the car at about 2pm,
started climbing (via the ledges start) at around 3:30. I led the
first easy 5th class pitch to the base of the 5.8 wide crack. Nate
led this to the brushy area above. Following with a heavy pack (we carried
over boots because we didn't feel like doing the descent in rock shoes;
probably a bad idea in retrospect) was a pain. I led the easy 5.5
left-facing open book. Nate did the scary 5.6 slab traverse and I took
the 5.7+ twin cracks pitch. A few more scrambling/simuling pitches took
us to the top. We got back to the car by 8:30ish.
Rack: single 9mm rope. 1 set of stoppers and
cams up to #3 camalot (no doubles this time).
Did the Bell yet again. We wanted to try the Northwest face route,
but the approach gully was so full of snow, that we didn't feel up to
descending it in rock shoes. We also didn't feel like climbing with a
heavy pack again, so we decided to do the standard. We left the
parking lot just behind another party at about 9am. We passed them on
the approach but another party had already beat us. We roped up and I
led the first pitch, this time avoiding the chimney/chockstone. The
face climbing to the right is much more pleasant. At the belay, I met
up with the belayer for the other party. We waited until she climbed
and then Nate followed. At the belay in the slabs we met up with them
and they kindly let us pass. They were both climbing with packs and
full goretex rainsuits (it was nothing but sunny and hot). They were
debating descending the route to look for a #1 camalot they thought
they'd left behind. Weird. I did the fingertip traverse to the right and
belayed in the blocky ledges on the other side. Nate led up and over
the final slab step and we simuled to the summit. Single rope rappels
(no rope hanging this time) took us back to our gear by 1pm. We'd
considered doing Concord, but time constraints convinced us to have
a leisurely lunch and get home early instead... We counted at least 8 parties
on the route -- on a Friday...
Rack: single 9mm rope. 1 set of stoppers and
cams up to #3 camalot (no doubles this time).