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Routes in Spire Four

Great Northwest Dihedral, The T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Hang a Right at Fourth Avenue T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Kamps/Goldstone Route T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Little Lark Crack T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
South Tower Conn Route T,S 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Spire Four T 5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c
West Gruesome T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
improbability drive T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
two EX squared T,S 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Type: Trad, 210 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Herb & Jan Conn 1948
Page Views: 13,167 total, 67/month
Admins: Andrew Gram, Peter Gram, Greg Parker, Andy Busse, Mike Madsen, Mark Rafferty

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Description

Your first decision is HOW to get to the climb! Start off by going down the Cathedral Spires trail . . . (Option #1 The short way) go past the climbers spur till you are directly North of Spire 4. Approach the 3/4 gully from the N side of the spires by bushwacking up the hill. Climb 4th class wall to the 3/4 saddle.

(Option #2 Fraggle Rock way) take the climbers spur (south of the spires)to the 3/4 gully, head up thru Fraggle Rock making some simple class 5 moves every now and again (check out the quartz waterfall) till you get to the 3/4 saddle.

If done in three pitches:

Pitch 1: Rope up or scramble about 35ft to first set of anchors (watch out for the dinner plate - waiting for someone to rip it off!).

Pitch 2: Follow the obvious route up into a jumble of rocks. Here is the wormhole (5.0)- squeeze your way through to your second set of chains (I had to take everything off my harness to fit!).

Pitch 3: Scramble up and avoid placing gear until you start actually climbing. This will prevent rope drag for the step across. Chains located on climbers left. At the top of this rock, you have to jump across to the summit of Spire Four - the best view in the hills if you ask me.

3 raps back to the base of the big pine with a 60M rope

Protection

Standard Trad rack = nothing larger than a #3 cam necessary, aliens come in handy and don't ever leave the ground w/o your nutsGood anchors / rappel chains at both belays.
Dan Evans
Phoenix, AZ
  5.7 PG13
Dan Evans   Phoenix, AZ
  5.7 PG13
For someone without a guide book that has never been to the Cathedral Spires before, I thought that all of the beta, pictures, and directions on MP were either useless or overly descriptive to the point that it made something that should've been REALLY easy, somewhat difficult. So here is my trip report:



1 - Getting to the parking lot
-------------------------------------
Take Hwy 87 through the Sylvan Lake entrance, pay the fee, and just keep driving straight through (2) one-car tunnels, the second being just past the Eye of the Needle parking lot which will most likely contain a gaggle of tourists chasing around the resident mountain goats. Just drive through the tunnel if the goats are in there and gobble really loud like a turkey to scare them out, this worked well for us. Once you are past the tunnel, a few more switch backs will bring you to the extremely obvious parking lot for the Cathedral Spires trail head with the spires looming in the back drop. If you can't find this parking lot, then you probably shouldn't be climbing them. Park here.

2 - Getting to the base of the route
-------------------------------------
From the parking lot, the spires are located due north. Follow the main Cathedral Spires trailhead (traveling S --> N) until you reach the far left spire, at which point the trail curves up and hiker's left. We did not see any obvious paths, cairns, or "Climbing Spur" (whatever that is) marking any trails leading to the south side of the spires, and opted to follow the trail around the back side (north side) per the "Option 1" directions. So, if you don't want to bush wack just keep following the main trail up and left until you come around the back, or north side, of the spires. Once you have reached the point where you are on the north side of the spires, the picture posted above should be a familiar view with Towers 1 - 4 pictured from left to right, spire 4 being the tallest one on the far left. Find the path of least resistance (again, no marked trail or cairns here) and make your way to the divide between towers 3 and 4 as shown in the picture. Drop packs and belay at the large pine tree at the base of the route, or just scramble up P1 if your party is confident. The descent will bring you back to the same pine tree so leaving packs isn't an issue.

3 - The climb
-------------------------------------
Pitch 1 - From the large pine tree, scramble up the 3/4 divide between spires 3 and 4. I found the path of least resistance here to be on the climber's right. Once at the top of P1 there are bolted anchors to your immediate right, but I recommend that you do not belay here as you will want to move your belay up and left into the obvious cave-like feature before starting up P2 for the worm hole. At this point you are walking on flat ground anyway, so just walk around to the left and scramble 3/4 up the face. P2 is the water drainage chute to the climber's left and if you look closely you can see the light shimmering through the worm hole at the top. Just left of the worm hole, you can see the rappel anchors. (5.0)

Pitch 2 - As someone who leads 5.8/5.9 in areas like Joshua Tree and Tahquitz, I felt that this pitch was actually a little heady mostly due to the poor gear opportunities, suspect rock quality, rattly chock stones, and water run off. If all of the rock were dry and didn't appear as though it were about to snap off under body weight, this might go at the suggested 5.4 grade. But with the aforementioned conditions it felt a bit harder to me, 5.6 seems fair? Anyway, carefully chimney your way up this up into the worm hole. I have a 32" waist, 5'9" at 175 lbs, and I fit through on my first try though I did rip my shorts and feel my gear snag multiple times. Getting both arms through the hole before your head definitely helps here. I was initially planning on bypassing the worm hole by climbing the face to the left, but when I got up to it the rock quality looked brittle and the pro was run out for the first 15 ft. But if the holds didn't snap and send you cratering to the slab below, this would probably go at 5.6-5.7 face. After surmounting the worm hole, belay off of the bolted anchors directly in front of you. (5.6 PG-13)

Pitch 3 - Follow the path of least resistance, bypassing 1-2 noticeable 5.6-5.7 crux sections. Rock quality is much improved on this pitch and the climbing is really straight forward scrambling with really short intermittent sections of actual face/crack climbing. Try to only place gear when absolutely necessary on this pitch to avoid rope drag for the step across. The step across is extremely easy and not as committing as I expected. If I had to rate the step across by itself, I would say it goes at 5.2. (5.7 PG-13 for the hardest 1 move)

4 - Descent
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Did anyone else experience a ridiculous amount of flies and bugs at the summit? We had no issues until we topped out, then it turned it something out of a national geographic film. Was kind of odd. Anyway, (3) Single rope rappels via the same route on bolted anchors with rings return you to the base of the pine tree. We used a 60 m rope without issues, but a 50 m would probably work as well.

Hope this clears up any confusion for those after me.

Cheers and safe climbing,

Dan Jul 13, 2017
Ryan Emery
Black Hills, SD
 
Ryan Emery   Black Hills, SD
 
The approach pitch I think is an easy 5th class scramble. I think 5.4 suits this very well. When in the worm hole, there is a smaller hole I believe to the left that you can shove your gear through and it will pop out on the other side. The face to the left of the wormhole is a nice variation, I don't remember any protection on it but I may be wrong! Does anyone know if the rap anchors going off the backside towards Eyetooth require two ropes? Mar 16, 2016
Wilson On The Drums
Woodbury, MN
  5.4
Wilson On The Drums   Woodbury, MN
  5.4
I agree with the previous post. There is a single 5.7 move on the second pitch if you're shorter and I always felt like going up the quartz waterfall on the approach had a single move or two not in the 5.4 range. Sep 12, 2014
Rich Bergstrom
Boulder, CO
  5.7
Rich Bergstrom   Boulder, CO
  5.7
The guidebook has this at 5.7; I agree. Up to and through the wormhole is 5.easy, the last pitch (continue left and up after clearing the wormhole) felt like it had a short section of 5.7 to me. Wonderful route. Good, easy to protect lead. Sep 12, 2014
Wilson On The Drums
Woodbury, MN
  5.4
Wilson On The Drums   Woodbury, MN
  5.4
From the 3/4 gully keep going up and up. Don't get suckered in to a chimney with a chockstone like I did. you'll k ow when you get there 'cause theres nowhere else to go. the start of the climb/chimney looks like giant steps/ledges. also the worm hole was not nearly as complicated as some of these comments make it out to be. put your arms through first, squirm a little, and push yourself up. maybe took me a minute... Sep 22, 2012
Chris treggE
Madison, WI
 
Chris treggE   Madison, WI  
 
Probably not news to many, but you can do a single rap off the east side to the 4/5 gulley with 2 60M ropes. This is the other side from where this route starts. Jun 28, 2011
Tyson S Arp  
 
A big Thank You to whomever replaced the old button heads on the rappel route! It was a nice improvement to a popular route.

I've got plenty of Spire Four photos and stories at my website! Apr 11, 2007
wayniak
  5.4
wayniak  
  5.4
Fun, easy, climb with good pro and a great summit. The face appears MUCH easier than the squirming through the wormhole. We found the register empty and missing the end cap when visiting late on 07/17. Jul 24, 2005

 
Paul . . Sorry for the late reply

  • *don't read any further if you don't want to know my secret to the WORM HOLE.**

you can't push straight up, you need to angle your body away from rock wall on the climbers right. When I get to the top, I turned my body 45 degrees to the climbers left(after I thought I had my hips stuck - and I am close to your size & it is all hips!), then leaned forward and sorta "beach whaled" it up and out. . . Oct 19, 2004
I spent about 25 minutes trying to pull myself through that damn wormhole. Didn't work. I took off everything except my harness. I ended up downclimbing and cleaning my pro from the chimney and traversing onto the 5.4 face in a quite nerve-racking experience. A very fun climb. If anyone finds a #4 Metolius 4CU out there (I think I might have misplaced it somewhere) please take good care of it. Aug 30, 2004
Paul Huebner
Portage, WI
 
Paul Huebner   Portage, WI
 
Angela, I'd like to know your secret. I just did the route and got stuck in the "wormhole" for about 1/2 hour (very scary experience) until I was finally able to take my rain-jacket, water bottle, and pro off of my harness one biner at a time with one free hand , and then also my harness. I weigh 180 and when I emerged my pants were damn near down to my knees. Next time, I'll do the alternative 5.4 face to the first bolt station or take everything off before entering the dreaded hole. Great route though and of course the best summit in the Spires. Jul 13, 2004
Peter Gram
Cupertino, CA
Peter Gram   Cupertino, CA  
You can rap off Spire 4 with just one 60m rope. One rap from the summit gets you back to the anchor by the wormhole. A second rap gets you back to the base of the chimney. Then walk back over to the 4th/easy 5th class first pitch and there is a rap off of slings in the gully. Apr 19, 2004
Does it require two 60 meters to rap off new anchors? And I heard there were 3 pitches? Another guy told me the old rap anchors might have been top of pitch two? Apr 19, 2004

 
Sorry for the confusion Bob. Fraggle Rock was a Muppet show by Jim Henson on cable back in the early 80's. Since you have been climbing longer than I have been alive, you were probably climbing while I was watching Fraggle Rock. I am jealous - climbing would have been better - anyway . . . My friends and I called gully 3/4 Fraggle Rock, because it is so beautifully green and surreal that we kept expecting wild red-haired Muppet to jump out from behind a rock and start singing some crazy song.

Regarding the 'Worm Hole': I did get thru it, but not without some work, and I am nowhere near 220! There is a secret to it, and once you figure it out it is a breeze. (After I figured it all out, I felt stupid for taking everything off my harness and panicking-more than just a little).

I just wanted to leave some excitement and wonder to the route and not give it all away.

& the step across from the false summit to the true summit is truly invigorating!!!! Aug 19, 2002
In 32 years of climbing in the Needles I have never heard of Fraggle Rock getting into the 3.4 gully. I believe they may be a little confused for you do go by Thunder Rock, Freak's Fright, Aku Aku and Teeter Totter Rock. Must be some else's pet name for something.

The worm hole can appear small. But I was with a climber that weighed 22o pounds and he went through one year in October. He did have to undress a bit to get through, actually he undressed alot. He had to take his jacket and sweater off, all the gear he was carrying and suck his chest in, but he did make it through the Worm Hole.

The key to getting through the worm hole is to get both arms through it first at the same time, the slither the rest of the body through. It's a classic move for Spire Four.

I would also recommend that if someone is taking beginners or early level climbers to the summit of Spire Four to before you do the step across place a long runner. Go to the top of the false summit and sling a horn and extend it with a long runner, then do the step across. This will give the new climbers a direction that is in line with their ascent.

But if you don't like the look of the worm hole the left face is fun. Aug 15, 2002