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Routes in South Guard (aka Sleeping Beauty's Tower, aka Amphitheater Dome)

Gargoyle Route, The T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
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Access Issue: Always check SEKI road conditions and peregrine closures Details

Description

This is the most prominent peak in the "Back Towers" portion of Castle Rocks. It has a history of a confusing mess of names - the few parties to have climbed first ascents on it all thought they were the first, or didn't care about the previous ones. To further add to the mess, the Secor High Sierra Guide calls it by the wrong name (Sleeping Beauty's Tower) and the Sequoia Kings Canyon Guidebook lists a completely different formation with one of these names (Amphitheater Dome). Hopefully this will help clear up things a bit...

1st Ascent: Ax Nelson, Ted Knowles, Dewitt Allen 1946 (SE Buttress/E Face, Class 5), calling it South Guard
2nd: ??? (Beckey mentions a second ascent in the 1968 AAJ, and recognizes its been climbed before, but renames the peak anyway)
3rd: Fred Beckey, Roger Briggs, Jim Jones, Dave Leen 1968 (North Buttress II 5.8 A3), calling it Amphitheater Dome (Amphitheater Dome is subsequently mis-located in the SeKi Guide)
4th: Herb & Eve Laeger, Rich Smith 1983 (Gargoyle Route III 5.9 A1 or 5.10), calling it Sleeping Beauty's Tower, as referenced by RJ Secor in the High Sierra Guide

Getting There

Atwell Mill aka upper approach: Preferred route to access the back towers and The Fortress. Some people prefer this for the spire and fin as well. Expect heat, little water, scrambling, off trail travel, 2,000 feet of elevation gain and 1,000 feet of elevation loss.
-From Atwell Mill campground on the Mineral King road, take the Paradise Ridge trail for about 3 miles up to the ridge.
-Follow the abandoned paradise peak trail west along the ridge until you feel like traversing towards Castle Peak.
-Head towards Castle Peak and pass it on the left (west).
-This will put you behind the back towers. In early season some runoff from snow melt can be found behind the towers.

1 Total Climbs

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