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North Early Winter Spire
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Early Winter Couloir T 
Labor Pains T 
Northwest Corner (a.k.a. Boving-Pollack Route) T 
West Face, The T 
Unsorted Routes:

The West Face 

YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Fred Becky and Dave Beckstad, 1965 FFA: Steve Risse and Dave Tower, 1985
Page Views: 8,599
Submitted By: Ian Wolfe on Aug 3, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (74)
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Micah leading crux pitch


This and the neighboring Northwest Corner Route are two of the finest alpine rock climbs I have had the pleasure to yet accomplish. Great movement, committing moves, huge exposure, beautiful position: some of the best climbs in the Washington Pass area.

The West Face shares its first pitch with the Northwest Corner, a somewhat dirty face up to a chimney with trees above (5.8). From here, move the belay up 3rd class terrain to a huge sandy ledge at the base of a large corner, the base of the second pitch. Climb this corner on the left side (5.8+) 50 feet to a good belay ledge. Continue up this corner (5.7), step left and and lieback up a 5" flake (5.8) until you can stand and put in some pro. Continue past a horn with lots of slings around it and undercling right, past a bolt, below the small roof (5.9). The crux pitch (5.11-) begins at the end of the undercling, so get psyched. Climb the thin (!) crack up and a little left until it eases up and you can step left into the next crack system. Build a belay here (~40 feet up) or continue up another thin finger crack (5.10c) until it opens up to 2" and eases off to 5.8. A few moves across the slab below a bolt bring you to an easier crack system. Finish up the cracks and then run across easy ground to the summit. Enjoy the views of North Early Winter Spire, Liberty Bell, and the Wine Spires!

The descent is down and (skier's) left of the summit and descends into the notch between North and South Early Winter Spire. Three single rope raps bring you down to the notch (often snow-covered), another gets you off the large chockstone (a fun, free-hanging rappel), and some scrambling and downclimbing (or a short 30 foot rap) get you back on the ground.


Look for the dirty cracks leading to a tree-topped chimney left of center as you approach the base of the tower.


Rock rack up to 3". The crux pitch and the 5.10 above it eat small stoppers like candy, but if 5.11 is near your leading limit, consider bringing a set of micro cams so that you can just plug and go.

Photos of The West Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Last Pitch
Last Pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Crux
Rock Climbing Photo: Rappelling over the chockstone
Rappelling over the chockstone
Rock Climbing Photo: Nearing the top of the 5.10 pitch.  It has eased o...
Nearing the top of the 5.10 pitch. It has eased o...
Rock Climbing Photo: Awesome 5.10 pitch!
Awesome 5.10 pitch!
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down on the crux pitch.
Looking down on the crux pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climbers on the West Face of North Early W...
Unknown climbers on the West Face of North Early W...
Rock Climbing Photo: Alix crushing the crux
Alix crushing the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 2.
Pitch 2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3, off width start.
Pitch 3, off width start.
Rock Climbing Photo: The crux pitch.
The crux pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: close to the top
close to the top

Comments on The West Face Add Comment
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By Be Esperanza
From: Asheville, NC
Feb 3, 2009

This is a fantastic climb in an amazing area. The thin 11- crux is short and hard. I found the jams and locks to be really technical. The last pitch felt easier than 10c. I seem to remember it rated as 10a in our guide, but it's a really good pitch too. I dragged a #5 all the way up there but it was too small for the wide crack.
By Keenan Waeschle
From: Bozeman, MT
Aug 1, 2011

with a 70 you can make it to the top from the stance above the 10d crux pitch. fantastic route.
By Johnny MacKinnon
From: Leadville, CO
Aug 21, 2011

Kudos to the folks who bolted the descent (Thanks CJ)! Great route. 60m won't make it to the rappel anchors if you try to link the last 2 pitches. I tried and got very very close. I recommend making a belay when you can because it gets slabby and crackless if you go too high.
By mcompton
Oct 3, 2012

Great route in an amazing setting. This climb is very accessible for the solid 5.9 trad leader if you don't mind aiding the 30 ft crux section of p4 and pulling on gear on a couple moves of p5. I was able to get a workable #5 in the wide crack with some fiddling to avoid the potential factor 2 on the belay anchor.

We got a late start but can say its very reasonable to descend in the dusk/dark if the weather is dry and you know where the first rap anchors are in the notch with the tree (and have a headlamp)
By James Ellis
From: Seattle, Washington
Jul 14, 2014
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Incredible route. It is possible (and highly recommended) to climb this in three pitches with a 70 meter rope. You can just barely link pitches 5 and 6 if you build your belay a bit high at the start of pitch 5 and manage your rope well to keep it as straight as possible. This makes for a huge exposed pitch of splitter climbing. Do it.
By geoff georges
From: Seattle, Wa.
Aug 15, 2014
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Don't expect to protect the wide crack unless you bring a green or blue big bro. I have not protected it, and it is kinda scary, not 5" as stated here, more like 8".
By James Ellis
From: Seattle, Washington
Aug 18, 2014
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

It should also be noted that the layback is safer if you link that pitch with the one before it. Otherwise you're looking at a factor 2 if you blow the layback.
By Curtveld
Jun 1, 2015

Rap anchors are excellent - fresh double bolts! They're rigged for a single 70 m though. A 60 m works, but you have to do a bit (10-20 feet) of easy but very exposed down-climbing. Knot those tails or watch them closely!

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