The Totem Pole Rock Climbing
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DescriptionThe Totem Pole is hands-down the world's most spectacular sea-stack, and probably the most spectacular natural stone tower of any kind on Earth. Bound to inspire awe in the hardiest of hard-men, this thing just begs to be climbed.
The Totem Pole offers excellent rock for a formation like this, but loose rock is present. Climbing conditions can vary dramatically, and the tide conditions are critical. Even in low tides on a calm day, the belayer should expect to be doused with sea water several times.
First climbed on aid in 1968 by Australian golden-age hard-man John Ewbank, this tower has a colorful history.
British trad-master and award-winning author Paul Pritchard suffered a near-fatal head injury while scouting a potential free route in the late 90's, which is documented in his excellent book "The Totem Pole".
Not to be outdone, ex-pat Brit Steve Monks ultimately completed his "Free Route" in 1999. This ascent was documented extensively by world-reknown Aussie photog Simon Carter, and facilitated by a Zodiac watercraft, to avoid the scrubby approach. Since Carter's pics hit the street, this icon has been the scene of numerous multi-media campaigns, including a BBC documentary on Pritchard's accident, and several catalogue photo shoots.
Monks later returned to finish Pritchard's intended line, and dubbed it "Deep Play", the title of the author's award-winning first book. Later, Lynn Hill arrived (once again with Carter in tow to shoot photos at the service of The North Face) to attempt the first-ever on-sight free ascent of the tower via this line, but her bout ended with a broken hold.
Carter was once again on-hand in 2003 to photograph his girlfriend Monique Forestier successfully completing the first on-sight free ascent via Deep Play.
Getting ThereThe logistics for the Totem Pole are rather complicated. Two ropes are mandatory, and it really helps if one of them is 70m. A third "haul line" is a big plus too.
From the rappel point at lands end, rap 65m to the obvious belay rock on the SW side of the pillar. Be careful getting established here, as it is wet and slick. There is a bolted anchor at the base of the pillar for the belayer. This rope should remain fixed from the rap anchor, and must be trailed by the leader to the summit of the Tote for the tyrolean traverse back to the mainland. Trailing this rope can be a bit tricky if climbing the Free Route, which literally spirals around the tower.
Classic Climbing Routes at The Totem Pole
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season