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Routes in Witch Tower

Circe S 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b PG13
Type: Sport, 75 ft
FA: Jason Halladay, Daniel Trugman
Page Views: 48 total, 0/month
Shared By: Daniel Trugman on Mar 22, 2009
Admins: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

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Cool movement on poor rock. This route follows the steep right prow of Witch Tower, then moves out on a cleaner face. This route will probably not be too fun to climb because of the poor rock; if you choose to go for it, it should be because you want to climb this very cool tower and not because you are expecting a well-cleaned and user friendly sport climb.

For those brave few that choose to climb this route despite the above warning:
Start up a steepening black arete with killer pockets and jugs, clipping a high first bolt off to the climbers' right. Make a fun traverse and pull the bulge with the aid of a heel hook or strong muscles. A couple bolted variations exist here - climb what feels fun. After this initial difficulty, climb easier terrain on worse rock to smooth gray panel. The last two bolts present the crux, which is more tricky than difficult.


Follows the right arete/face of the front of Witch Tower


7 bolts to anchors
Note: I guess there are really 8 bolts but you probably only want to clip one of the two "second" bolts depending on your line...


Daniel Trugman
Los Alamos, NM
Daniel Trugman   Los Alamos, NM
The rock probably isn't getting better. Between Jason and I, we probably spent 20 man-hours trying to get the route clean, but to no avail. If it got climbed ten times a day like the routes on the Main Wall, it might clean up pretty fast. But because of its location (and the fact that it isn't an overhung 5.12), it will never really see traffic. You are probably the first to climb it since my last cleaning session a week or two after the FA.

I'll change my star rating to a 'bomb' too. We thought we could make it work, and the rock isn't *that* bad compared to plenty of trad routes. But for a sport route, the rock is pretty bad. I guess it falls into the category of "adventure sport-climbing." Tread lightly. Jun 8, 2010
J tot
Tempe, AZ
J tot   Tempe, AZ
I climbed this for the first time yesterday. I'm not sure if the rock is getting better (from the cleaning) or worse (from winter cycles) but it felt sketchy. Large chunks of rock are loose, so make sure your belayer stands out of the way... and with room to dodge.

At the top there were several sections that seemed like the bolt would pull the rock off the tower if I fell. The bolts are placed at the best possible place, but the rock itself just doesn't inspire confidence.... sad really because there look to be several other super fun routes there as well. Jun 8, 2010
Dude, Cam Burns and co. were the KINGS of the simul-rap. He's famous for throwing ropes over hoodoos in Moab, jugging off a partner, then rapping for the "FA". Funny stuff.

I could be wrong about those guys climbing it. Luke mentioned it to me at some point when we were hiking around up there, but it was 10+ years ago and my memory is pretty foggy.

-Walt Apr 23, 2009
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
  5.10+ PG13
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
  5.10+ PG13
Ha, cool. Thanks for your comment, Walt. I figured there was a reason no one had ever touched these fins because they are pretty obvious. If those dudes climbed up there in the past I'm really impressed as there didn't seem to be any signs of previous traffic because stuff was sloughing off and it took a lot of cleaning as I humped my way up that fin. I even drilled a couple of dubious bolts on lead because there was no good pro options. And then getting off would be have been impressive too. Maybe they simul-rapped? Mar 29, 2009
I'm pretty sure that Jon Butler/Luke Laeser/Carlo Torres/Cam Burns or some combination thereof got on top of this thing (via the back side at easyish class 5) at some point in the early 90s. Luke and I went and looked at it a few times later and decided the rock was too poor to bolt anything. Good to see that we were wrong!

-Walt Mar 29, 2009
Jason Halladay
Los Alamos, NM
  5.10+ PG13
Jason Halladay   Los Alamos, NM  
  5.10+ PG13
It's a cool, obvious formation to climb but it's a shame much of the rock is dubious. We did install a chain anchor on the true summit after the sketchy real first ascent of the formation from the uphill side. The anchor for this route is about five feet below the summit because the rock is better there. If you like to summit towers, climb gently up and left from the anchors of Circe to the summit and ride the witch. Mar 22, 2009
Daniel Trugman
Los Alamos, NM
Daniel Trugman   Los Alamos, NM
This route has great movement, but is currently quite dirty. I intend to go up there again this week and clean some more, but it is certainly climbable in its current condition. The PG-13 rating is due to the crumbly nature of the rock, not the bolt placements. Mar 22, 2009