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Middle Bell Tower
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Arm and Hammer T 
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Ellsworth-McQuarrie Route 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 6 pitches, 600', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: Steve Ellsworth, Mark McQuarrie 1964
Page Views: 4,747
Submitted By: Peter Gram on May 15, 2004

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (15)
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Pic of me leading the 3rd pitch of Ellsworth-McQua...

Private Property now at the entrance to Bells Canyon. MORE INFO >>>


This route follows a really striking line up the Middle Bell Tower, but has really bad rock up high. Easily pick this route out by looking for the obvious continuous dihedral which goes through 2 huge roofs. Good rock quality is found for the first 2 pitches, but it gets much worse after passing the Arm and Hammer exit.

P1) Incredible roof traverse pitch. This pitch is 3-star quality, and has good rock. Easily climb up to the monster roof, then traverse the roof right for 40 feet of fun climbing. A set of chain anchors ends this pitch immediately after finishing the roof, or link with the second pitch. (5.7)

P2) Squeeze. Good rock, but this is an unpleasant squeeze chimney. Grunt up this passing 3 old bolts on the right face. The crack can be somewhat protected with a #4 camalot. Of the 3 bolts, the first looks like a nail with a wingnut attached, the second has a hanger, and the 3rd is bashed into the rock (and completely unusable). The first can be used if slung with a small stopper. This pitch ends at a nice ledge with a 3 bolt anchor, or can be combined with pitch 1. (5.7)

P3) Climb up the variable sized dihedral through deteriorating rock for 100 feet to another ledge with a 2 bolt, 1 piton anchor. (5.7)

P4) Climb up a rotten crack, which quickly reaches a squeeze chimney. Another bad bolt on the left face, then grunt upwards. Clip another odd bolt on the right face, then traverse slightly left to a sealed up crack (possibly protectable at the start by very small gear). Continue up this unprotectable bad rock to a 2 bolt anchor. (5.6)

P5, P6) Rock gets even worse. I chose to rap the route from here. If not, this next pitch goes up a steep unprotectable bush and dirt filled choss groove to the second big roof. The roof looks easy, but unpleasant to reach. Another pitch apparently climbs through a rotten corner to the top.

Descent) It is possible to rap to the ground from the top of P4 using only one 60m rope.


Standard Rack. Definitely bring a #4 camalot!!! It seemed like 2 would be nice on most pitches. I placed at least one on every pitch.

Photos of Ellsworth-McQuarrie Route Slideshow Add Photo
Ellsworth-McQuarrie route in yellow, Arm and Hammer in Red.  Dots are approximate belay positions.
BETA PHOTO: Ellsworth-McQuarrie route in yellow, Arm and Hamme...
Hoskins Leading pitch 4.  About 15 ft below the off-width.
Hoskins Leading pitch 4. About 15 ft below the of...
Eric on pitch 1
Eric on pitch 1
Early morning start
Early morning start
Rick Schroder hard at work on a combined pitch 1 and 2.
Rick Schroder hard at work on a combined pitch 1 a...
Me starting the lead on pitch 3.  Beautiful and consistent granite.  The best pitch on the route IMO.
Me starting the lead on pitch 3. Beautiful and co...
Hoskins leading pitch 2.  Squeeze chimney that tightens a bit and lends itself nicely to lie-backing.
Hoskins leading pitch 2. Squeeze chimney that tig...
Eric on pitch 1
Eric on pitch 1

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By Louis Arevalo
May 16, 2004

The remainder of the route gets better after bushwacking up to the second roof. This pitch is definately spooky, but can be protected, just clean the gravel out of the crack. There is a nice belay stance past the roof with a bolt to incorporate. The pitch following is a cool dihedral that is fairly clean, once it gets steep again 5.6/5.7. Different options exist here and most are mellow to the top of the tower 5.6. Watch your step, as the lower angle slabs are covered with gravel. To rap the line you have to stop after the second roof otherwise prepare for a terrible walk off to the east.
By philfell
From: Olympic Valley, CA
May 25, 2005

I climbed this to Arm and Hammer last fall. You really should combine pitch one and two together (need a 60 meter rope). Also someone replaced on of the junk bolts in the squeeze chimney, if I remember right there is a new on where the old stud with a wingnut used to be, then you can clip the old rusted 1/4er just above. The replacement of the bolt makes you feel much better going into the layback section.
By Nathan Fisher
May 19, 2006
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I know it is kind of oxymoronic, but I felt the squeeze was rather pleasant. I have definitely done less-likable squeezes, but this one was rather straightforward. First pitch magnificent.
By tenesmus
Jun 19, 2007

Tony, Can I have that weird oval-ish hanger from the first pitch? Clipping that was one of the highlights of the climb.
By Tyler King
From: Salt Lake, UT
Jun 26, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Great Route. Pitches 1-4 are classic, with excellent granite! We had trouble getting to the "top." My climbing partner climbed pitches 6 and 7 up through the trough passing 2 belay stations (webbing around a bush) And as we were out of water, exhausted, and low on time he said there was nothing to see and the climbing sucked. so we rapped down the route. I was under the impression that you could walk off this route (i.e. reach the top) Does it sound like we got to the "top"???
By Sam Cannon
From: Holladay, Utah
May 24, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

I'm not the type of person to rock popular opinion, but two things felt pretty clear to me after finishing the route - all pitches except the first felt a full grade harder than 5.7 and quite sustained. It's not hard, but it did feel consistently more committing than 5.7 on pitches 2,3, and 4. Personally I'd give it a 5.8 or an LCC 5.8-, with the 1st pitch being the easiest/least enjoyable, 2 and 3 being good 5.8s, and the 4th pitch easing up a tad but still more difficult than the first. Also, just doing pitches 1-4 I give this route 4 stars. Phenomenal, sustained climbing at the grade (again, 5.8 IMHO), very aesthetic, good rock with only one or two spots of "grittiness." Awesome.

Brought two #4s, was glad to have 'em.
By Sam Cannon
From: Holladay, Utah
May 26, 2013
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

One last comment: I didn't think the crack on P3 was that rotten, or that the rock on the final pitch was in a full state of deterioration - my friend had a small flake peel off in his hand on the final section of P4 and I think that was it for the entire route. The final seam that is mentioned as unprotectable takes a perfect #0 and #2 Metolius with good spacing.