By now, this spire has perhaps the most popular alpine climb in the country. DO NOT--repeat, DO NOT do this climb on a weekend.
It has excellent climbing to an unimaginable summit. If crowded, there are many alternatives.
Park at the Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead (a mile below Bear Lake), and hike [five] miles or so to Sky Pond (above Loch Vale).
Scramble up talus above Sky Pond to the Petit, which offers a steadily narrowing South Face and is overshadowed by the Sharkstooth to the West and flanked by the Saber on the East.
Andrews Glacier trail descent: per Paul Huebner: we did short rap down the back on the east side and traversed over to other spire behind it. Then we scrambled up to our left/west through chimney that opens up onto large ledge/ramp leading down to the base and back side of that spire. From there, we descended gentle snow field down to talus and continued on down the Andrews Glacier Trail (approach for Sharkstooth) to Loch Vale and on down to Glacier Gorge Parking lot.
Rap descent - per James Beissel: - All of the rap stations are bolted. If you are rapping off anything besides bolt you are screwing up.- You will need two 60m ropes- All of the raps are double rope rappels- Do not try to rap into the gully!!!- You should not have to downclimb at all
1. Rap from a Fixe anchor at the (climber's) right end of the summit. ~160 ft. 2. Rap from two Fixe ring anchors just past the terrace to a pair of Metolius rap bolts. ~160 ft 3. Rap from the fatty Metolius bolts to the big grassy ledge. ~160 ft. The next set of bolts are about 50' to your left at eye level, above a chimney of sorts. Addendum: it's exposed clipping the anchor. 4. Rap from the anchor over the void (homemade hanger + modern Fixe ring bolt). Pass up the grassy ledge (Second Terrace) at about 160ft. and aim for the big horn about 20' below you. There's probably slings around the horn. They'll help you spot the station, but you will actually be rapping from bolts below the horn. ~180' ft. 5. A 200+' rap to a big grassy ledge (First Terrace). The next bolts will be about 50' climber's right. Addendum: you may not reach this anchor, but there is a slung boulder at ~165' to make a short additional rap. 6. Another 200' rap to the ground off two Fixe ring bolts.
This is a great route, it has 8 pitches and is slightly runout on easy terrain at the top. It is very crowded and in my opinion not nearly as good as the slightly harder and more sustained Culp-Bossier on Hallett Peak. Give yourself plenty of time to do this one as four rappels are required to reach the ground. The summit is awesome and the upper pitches are high quality. The first few pitches aren't as fun and kind of mungy.From Charles Vernon:Approach by parking at the Glacier Gorg...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
The climb is unforgettable, but the descent could be epic if impatience is your best resource follow the 5 bolted rappels off the southeast side that wrap around to the south side, one scary reach from a large ledge and your home free. This climb is very cool, the best I've done in the park. The day I climbed it, not a soul in sight and the weather held up nicely, unfortunate fools the day before got hail the size of cherries.
Just climbed the South Face route last Tuesday, conditions were great. The route is 99% dry. We also talked to some folks who climbed the South Prow on Sharkstooth. Looks like it's in good shape as well.
Snow on the hike up is in grape shape, possible in boot's without snowshoes. You may desire crampons or an ice axe. Enjoy the early spring!
Just wanted to add my two cents concerning the descent. There are solid bolted rap stations for stretched 60m rappels (TWO ROPES!) to the base of the climb. We had a single 60m, and you can do it the grassy ledge, but we could not find intermediate rap stations for the last 400 feet. So, take two ropes and be happy!
When I climbed the South Face route in 1994, we did short rap down the back on the east side and traversed over to other spire behind it. Then we scrambled up to our left/west through chimney that opens up onto large ledge/ramp leading down to the base and back side of that spire. From there, we descended gentle snow field down to talus and continued on down the Andrews Glacier Trail (approach for Sharkstooth) to Loch Vale and on down to Glacier Gorge Parking lot. Made summit of Petit at 11, had cold beer we had stashed in creek near the Loch and were back at car at 3 PM, just ahead of huge raindrops. Course to do this you have to climb with your pack and take your approach shoes or boots, nothing new in the Mts.
Climbed up to the pizza belay ledge before having to bail. Winter conditions make for a cold and windy ascent. Bring plenty of warm layers and don't skimp on the small gear. Also, bring as many long trad draws as you have to reduce the high potential of rope drag. The third pitch (traverse) or as I call it "epic pitch" is less than desirable in the winter due to snow. Used a 70m to lead, and it reduced the amount of total pitches to 5 or 6. (To the top) Found good bivy towards the base of the tower a good distance up from Sky Pond. Better to take the Girlfriend up in the summer, LOL.
Me and Cale got off work Friday and had plans to head right for the Peton (Petit Grepon). After a ten hour shift of slinging steel, I figured it would be nessesary to pick up a six pack before the hike. Hitting the trail head at 7pm, we biveed near the Loch and finished in the morning. Getting to the base of Petit at 600. We scramble up the first two pitches in about an hour 1/2. The third and forth pitch is what slowed us down a bit. I lead the forth pitch and ended to the left of the ramp and pretty much screwed us from there. Sorry Cale. We both noticed the ramp to the right we should of anchored at. Being so far left, there was no pro on hard face moves for thirty feet. Our only choice was to traverse left and rap down to the grassy ledge, on the way over to the slings I had wedged my foot in a side crack made a small move and twisted the shit out of my ankle. I heard a crack and knew our time was done. On our way down we got caught by another team. We figured we'd let them pass by that time my ankle was killing me and decided to rap off. Pretty sketched, we called it a day. Very disappointed but content with our efforts. This was my first attempt of an alpine climb and ready to get back up there maybe before winter. I learned one brilliant mistake on an alpine climb could cost it for you. You betcha the hike down after that felt like an eternity.
Sweeta ass route! Super exposed after the 3rd pitch, but bomber pro! Good job, Scotty, we'll get this one, we were a little rushed so be prepared! Weather was great but towards the end got a little sketchy, would love to do a winter ascent on this big guy!
Beautiful hike in and the Cathedral Spires are AWESOME!
The climb was equally beautiful. You can reach the 1st Bench with a 60 meter, and, if you belay higher up in the chimney (25 ft, +or-) for the 2nd pitch, you can string 2 and 3 together, giving the leader an interesting chimney/5.7 crack to reach the second bench.
After the next chimney pitch, The climb goes vertical, beginning the real deal. Stellar climbing! Up higher, I don't know what the Gillett guide meant by 'sparse pro' on the upper 5.7 'meandering' east face pitch; I found plenty. The Pizza pan ledge at the end of that pitch reminded me of the Yellow Spur's arete belay. Very cool! Get comfy.
The final 5.6 summit pitch needs attention, as there really ISN'T good pro for THAT one. It's all there, however, and the summit is amazing! If the weather's holding, definitely spend a little alone time up there before pulling up the slack.
On the descent, watch for ropes sticking on the upper rappels. Also, rock fall is very possible (probable?), so be cautious. But that's all part of climbing, so really doesn't merit mentioning, generally. Whatever. ENJOY IT!
Rap description is right on, but slings are removed from block at the bottom of the 4th rap. Look for a big L-shaped block perched on the edge of the lower tiers of grassy ledges and the bolts are right below it. I spent a bit of time searching for them. From there you should reach the 1st terrace w no problem w two 60m ropes
Really helpful description of the descent via the five or so raps. We missed the fixed rap rings for the third rap (be sure to keep looking climber's left around 160 feet) but continued for roughly 180 feet to a solid block that's slung with good webbing and a cold shut and rap ring. From there, it's about a 40 foot rap down to the large grassy ledge where you gain fixed rap anchors at the far end of the ledge (as described on MP site). For the fourth rap, note that there isn't any cordage currently on the horn, though it's pretty obvious and you will see the rap station just below it.
We climbed the Petit (south face) on 9/5 and had amazing weather and, even better, the whole route to ourselves all day!