The Watchtower is one of the larger and more easily approached objectives in the front country of Sequoia National Parkís west side. A mere 1.7 miles on the gentle Tokopah Valley Trail and a moderate slab/talus scramble will put you at the base of a wall thatís nearly 1,000 feet tall.
First climbed in 1970 by Galen Rowell, this formation didnít see another ascent for 10 years. Even today, only 4 routes have been recorded. That being said, there have likely been a few others over the years. Or maybe notÖ
The climbing here has an alpine feel and loose rock and vegetated pitches are not uncommon. Only one of the four known routes goes free, the others all receiving an A3 rating.
The free option is the Timex Route (5.9) which wanders around and finds some good bits of climbing mixed in with bushes and lichen.
Late summer is the best time to rock climb here. Be aware that you need to be able to cross the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River to access this formation. If the water is still raging, a different objective may be in order. On the other hand, if you want it badly enough you could bushwhack up the other side of the river for two miles to the base. Keep an eye out for bears in this area and donít leave food in your vehicle.
Parking for all climbs in Tokopah Valley is in the large lot behind the Lodgepole Visitor Center and Market. From here, walk across the bridge at the east end of the parking lot and take an immediate right on the Tokopah Valley Trail. Follow the trail until you are within a couple hundred feet of the bottom of Tokopah Falls. Start looking for a place to cross the river.
The easiest descent is via the Pear Lake Trail which takes you to the Wolverton area and then on to Lodgepole in an easy three miles.
The Lodgepole parking area is located in Sequoia National park just north of Giant Forest.
From the south (Visalia) follow HW 198 into the park. Form the north (Fresno) follow HW 180 into the park.
Moonage Daydream is an ice route that forms in a gully on the North side of the Watchtower. It is the longest route in CA that forms almost every year (there are longer routes, but they usually do not form, or form for very short weather windows). Original rating is 6-7 pitches, 1000ft, WI4. After climbing it, I believe the length of the route is about 700-800 ft. We did the climb in 5 pitches. The slopes above the climb are prone to avalanches, so checking the avy conditions before doing this r...[more]Browse More Classics in CA