Zowie is the towering fin of rock seen while approaching/descending from Sharkstooth. It is an impressive sight. It's very similar looking to the Petit Grepon, just smaller. It is a pinnacle eroded from Otis Peak.
Park at Glacier Gorge Junction one mile before the Bear Lake parking lot. Take the trail to Alberta Falls, and keep going. Hike past The Loch for a mile, cross a footbridge and go right heading up towards Andrews Glacier. Once you start to leave the trees, start looking to the right and you'll see the tower. Wham is the other tower to the right. Addendum: It's now ~4 miles.
There appear to be at least 2 descents.
A. From the top, there is at least one rappel route down. From the northeast end of the top, there is a 2 bolt ~90' rappel. (~80' reaches a ledge with an exposed scramble north to the next anchor.) Note, this rappel can be challenging to pull, so consider using one rope. The second rappel off a 2 bolt anchor goes down a gully going north to the saddle. From there, snake your way down exposed 3rd class, traverse skier's right into a chimney, continue snaking down past a notch, and go to a pair of brown, Metolius rap hangers near the bottom of the descent. Rappel ~80' over a wet chimney.
B. Per John Peterson: The first rap is down the east side (right over the 5.8+ crack). Take a grassy ledge north (right as you face the summit) to an anchor that leads to the notch behind Zowie. This is hard to see from above. Both of these rap stations have good anchors. Follow the gully down until you hit a drop off near the bottom and rap one last time. It looked possible to downclimb, but it would be very exposed. This rap anchor wasn't as good as the other two.
The South Face is the standard route on this less-classic cousin of the Petit Grepon with which it's often compared. Although the quality of the climbing isn't as good as that found on the Petit, it's still a worthy objective with a much shorter approach and a beautiful summit. To get to the base of the route, head up towards the left side of the formation, looking for the line of least resistance underneath the prominent chimney system. The first 2 pitches follow this chimney, but it doesn't e...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
My main comment for this route is a lot of people offer it up as a much less crowded alternative to the Petit. I would have to say it's not really a good alternative. It looks the same, and the summit is as good, but the rock quality is really marginal on the bottom, and if you get hurt, there isn't someone a pitch away to bail you out. The last pitch and summit make it worth it, but don't kid yourself - there's a reason it doesn't see hundreds of parties a season.
I sure would hate to be the poor guy climbing a pitch away from someone on the unfortunate day that they decided to get in over their heads. If a party doesn't feel comfortable climbing this climb without someone else there to facilitate their rescue, they sure as hell better not be getting on the Petit! Be self-sufficient! Don't depend on a good samaritan to bail you out. Seriously.
By Stich From: Colorado Springs, Colorado Aug 23, 2006
Our ropes got stuck at the North rappel anchor and required me to fix one line and ascend the other with Tiblocs. This was easy to do, as you can walk up a ridge to an old pin and climb about 40ft from there. There are several slots and corners that a knot can jam in after the rap station.
To avoid this situation, just pull the knot below the last lip that the rope runs over. Of course this means you will get on rappel over the lip yourself, but it sure beats the hell out of the alternative of having to deal with a stuck knot.
In addition, on the West descent gully I went to the left side of the gully and saw there was a short but exposed downclimb in a V slot to get to an anchor. This was very wet and impossible to downclimb safely, so we slung some boulders above to get there. This rap anchor is pretty funky. It is three equalized nuts and a 1/4" bolt with a hanger held on by a rusted wing nut.
Pitches up to ledge--not great 5.7 crack--exciting, good 5.5 meander--not good 5.6 E. Face--exciting, good(-) 5.8 finish pitch--exciting, great(-), 4 or 5 pins
I recommend rapping off the East face from the summit. I wouldn't try to descend to the N. in one long rappel from the top. We tried this and the rock caused so much FRICTION that we couldn't get the rope to budge an inch. After 35 min. of effort to free the rope I decided to return to the summit.
How to avoid this: 1. Spot the next anchor ~30m down from the summit (to the NE.) 2. Rap off the E. face to the base of the last pitch. 3. Then use the other anchor to rap down the gully to the saddle.
Good beta on the rappel Craig...we had a rope epic on the rap over the north side. We did the direct start, which is given a "s" after its 8+, but failed to find the severe section or risk. In the end, it was one of the best pitches.
It's no Petit, but still a good climb & viable destination for moderate alpine in RMNP. Climbed 7.14
Tobe- it must have been your heart rattling and recoiling as there are no snakes of any kind living at those altitudes...let alone in the middle of a cliff...sure you weren't 'flashing back' to climbs in Joshua Tree or somewhere in Arizona where those types of serpents live?
Let's make sure that the descent is correctly described. You only need one 60m rope to get down. The first rap is down the east side (right over the 5.8+ crack). Take a grassy ledge north (right as you face the summit) to an anchor that leads to the notch behind Zowie. This is hard to see from above. Both of these rap stations have good anchors. Follow the gully down until you hit a drop off near the bottom and rap one last time. It looked possible to downclimb, but it would be very exposed. This rap anchor wasn't as good as the other two.
The rap off the summit is prone to serious rope retrieval issues due to rope friction over the rock. This is still a major problem even when sliding the knot clear. If you rap west, the rope friction to the anchor increases and ropes will likely not pull. I highly recommend a single rope rap directly north to the first ridge step below the summit. From there, another single rope rap north takes you to the decent gully leading west. This is a great summit!