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Routes in Lexington Tower

East Face T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
North Face T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Tooth and Claw T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
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Type: Trad, Alpine, 800 ft, 10 pitches, Grade III
FA: Steve Marts and Don McPherson
Page Views: 10,686 total · 94/month
Shared By: sqwirll on Jul 7, 2009
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

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Multiple belay options are available and linking of some pitches are possible, but here's the general break down.

Pitch 1 - Climb up a crack system and traverse left into slopey climbing with difficult protection. Belay where convenient.

Pitch 2 - Continue up and slightly right to the base of the obvious left facing corner. Belay from a small tree.

Pitch 3 - Climb the left facing corner to a nice ledge with a tree belay.

Pitch 4 - Climb up and left through cracks ranging from hands to fingers and belaying at a stance below the roof with a deadend chimney. This is not the chimney you'll be climbing.

Pitch 5 - Once at the deadend chimney, traverse right on a small ledge with no hands for 30'(exposed). At the end of the traverse, pull a difficult lieback (one could jam this) and continue up the hand and finger crack. Crux

Pitch 6 - Climb the offwidth above, clipping the a jambed 2x4 for pro and passing two bolts to an alcove above.

Pitch 7 - Continue up the short chimney, which leads to blockier terrain and another offwidth.

Pitches 8-10 - Easier ground leads up and left to a tree belay. Continue up to the top of the formation. A 4th class traverse pitch across a catwalk takes you to the unroping notch.


Park at the pond (south side of highway) that is located approximately 1.2 miles east of the pass. Hike up the trail for 30-45 minutes to the base. There are a couple of options depending on the condition of the snowfield at the base. Option 1 is to go up gully to the left of the east face and get on the rock. Option 2 is get on the rock from the right hand side.

Descent - from the notch below the summit (you don't actually go to the summit), head west and take the gully to the skiers left. There are rap slings down there, but it's 20' of 3rd class, so it's not worth the effort. Once down the gully continue to traverse right(north)until you hit the cattle trail that goes up to Liberty Bell, which will take you to the Blue Lake trail. Once you're able to see the highway and the trail turns left, locate a faint climbers trail that will take you straight to the highway (probably saves a mile or so of hiking). Hike the road back to your car. Alternatively, one could hitchhike or do a shuttle to save on the walk.


Standard rack with gear to 6". We brought and used a #4 quite a bit as well. You could probably get by with out the 6" cam if you feel solid in the wide stuff. It was much easier than I had expected, especially with 2 new bolts.
Las Vegas
sqwirll   Las Vegas
The rock quality on the upper couple of pitches isn't nearly as good (grainy), but it certainly doesn't detract from the rest of the route.

Also, a huge avalanche wiped out a section of trail up there on the Blue Lake side, but enough people have been making there way through that it should be fairly obvious. Jul 7, 2009
Bryan G
Bryan G   Yosemite
This climb is longer than the 800ft the Supertopo gives it. I wouldn't recommend a #6. The "crux OW" is sport bolted, easy, and has lots of face holds so you don't even need to get in it.

We rappelled the route with two 60m ropes which allowed us to bring ice axes for the snow slope at the base without having to carry them up the climb. But late in the season when the base is melted out it's probably better to go up and over. Aug 1, 2013
The moats were kind of gnarly in approach shoes and we were forced to do a variation off to the far right of the first ledge to start the route.

The "9+" offwidth didn't strike me as the crux of the route. If there was one bit of climbing that I thought was hard and funky and runout it was the 6" offwidth that gets 8+ in the new guidebook after the "crux" pitch. If I'd had a #6 I would have placed it I think. #6 isn't terribly necessary, but if someone had one, and they asked my opinion I'd say bring it.

Really nice route though. Aug 10, 2014
This is a great route, but definitely spicy. The second pitch, is especially heady. Never really difficult, but requires commitment well above small gear. I'd recommend bringing the #6 too. The off width is not that fierce, but it is really runnout without the big cam. The guide book recommended descent is really loose. You can avoid it by following the beta for the Liberty Traverse: Scramble toward NEWS on the ridge, aiming for the little tree covered knoll between the spires. There's a rap station on a tree at the far side of the knoll. From the bottom of that rap, scramble toward NEWS and pick up the main descent trail there. Jul 6, 2015
Dirk Rogstad
Dirk Rogstad   seattle
Awesome route!

Did this route on 9/12/15 and found the left side gully to be completely snow free and full of rotten rock. Would not recommend. Instead, scramble up the slabs on the far right. Then climb up left through a corner to gain a ledge with some small trees on it, continue to climb up and left until meeting back up with the original route (midway through pitch 1?). Much safer and probably about the same speed, imho. Sep 14, 2015
Mike A. Lewis
Estes Park, CO
Mike A. Lewis   Estes Park, CO
This route is worthwhile if you are in the area, but nothing to travel for, in my opinion. I gave it 2 stars. I'm not a hardened, jaded, old climber dude who likes to down-rate things, etc. But, compared to other popular national alpine rock climbing areas such as RMNP, the Hulk, Mt. Evans, The Winds, Tetons, etc., I found the climbing on the East Face to be of moderate to low quality. The rock was grainier than I expected with a 4.5 star rating on MP and 5 stars in Ian's book. The OW sections were short-lived, and much easier than the grade, and the overall climbing was less than classic, in my opinion, minus a few sections of nice climbing here and there. The position and the feature itself is obviously awesome - so, that makes it a "good" route in my mind. Sep 28, 2015
Mike A. Lewis
Estes Park, CO
Mike A. Lewis   Estes Park, CO
The OW pitches. These are nothing to worry about. From the details given, and the abundant use of the word "burly," I expected a long, continuous, vertical section of sustained offwidthing. The OW on Pitch 6 in Ian's book, was a a 20' section of overhanging OW in a dihedral. This is where the wood block is (which was loose and floating - I didn't use it). Using basic 5.7+ chimney and stemming techniques gets you to a bolt. The #6 Camelot fits perfectly and makes you feel comfy. Without it, you are a little exposed above your belay, and maybe you clipped the wood block, but the climbing is really not very hard, unless you have absolutely no chimneying/stemming experience. Then with another bolt clipped and using some 5.8 face climbing technique, layback or stem around short OW bulge, and you are done. For the Pitch 7 OW, just grovel your way up some low angle rock, using your feet well on the sticky granite - this pitch would be 5.7 or maybe 5.8 in Yosemite or Lumpy Ridge. Sep 28, 2015
Mike A. Lewis
Estes Park, CO
Mike A. Lewis   Estes Park, CO
Descent. From the col between the top of the E Face route and the summit block, look SW and you will see the "Island in the Sky" bivy ledge. It is an obvious flat ledge with some small trees - looks like a very cool place to camp. Traverse some 3rd class gullies to get over toward this bivy, and before getting up onto the bivy platform, take the 2nd class gully down to the right (W). OR, if there is snow/ice, you can get up on the bivy ledge and look for rap slings off the SW side of the ledge. Short rap into 2nd class or snow terrain. Enjoy. Sep 28, 2015
Mike Lewis. I'm curious why you would rate Blues Buttress at 3 stars and East face of Lexington at 2. By any measure I am familiar with, Lexington is by far a superior route. In what ways did you think Blues Buttress was a better route?

If your traveling through WA on a climbing trip there probably aren't many people who would suggest the East Face of Lex as a "must do" route. But using the rest of the climbing at WA pass as a gauge, it's pretty darn good. Not much at WA pass is world class. I'd say you probably picked the wrong climbs if you were looking for rivals to national classics. Next time, if you are on HWY 20, go crag at Newhalem instead of Fun Rock and then climb something on the East Face of Liberty Bell. Oct 25, 2015
This is a nice route that's a bit adventurous for the moderate grade. It's a bit grainier and a bit more 'blue collar' than some of the other routes at the pass, for instance routes on the east face of Liberty Bell or, say, the west face of South Early Winters Spire. On the first pitch, I failed to traverse left at the proper time and ended up on some difficult, loose and fairly runout climbing. I managed to join the 'correct' ending to the pitch later on. This pitch has the potential to be dangerous if done incorrectly but perhaps this mistake is easy to avoid. Jul 6, 2016
Billy Barghahn
Salt Lake City, UT
Billy Barghahn   Salt Lake City, UT
Very fun varied climbing!

The first rappel anchor for the descent (at top of Tooth and Claw) is no longer a tree. The tree is dying and any slings were removed by a previous party. The anchor is now a horn that is slung with cordelette and stopper, located a few feet back from the ledge near the former tree anchor. Bring some extra webbing/cord as there is currently only a single cordelette. Rappel is straightforward once you locate the anchor. Sep 27, 2016
There are no longer tree or slung horn/chock anchors present at the top of the East Shoulder. If rappelling, one can scramble down part of the final pitch of Tooth and Claw (4th class or very easy 5th) to a bolted anchor and rappel from there with two ropes. T & C tops out about 20ft to the climbers right from the East Face route. I'm not certain if one can rappel from this anchor to the next bolted anchor with two 60m ropes; if not, there is an intermediate nut and sling anchor in place that can be used. Two 70m ropes will certainly allow one to skip the nut/sling anchor. After that, the rappels down T & C are relatively straightforward:

Bolted anchor, top of P5
Bolted anchor, top of P4
Tree Anchor, top of P3
Bolted Anchor, top of P2
Bolted Anchor, top of P1
Tree from lower access ledge to snow/talus

Don't start your rappels from trees further to climbers left; there may be (green) webbing present but the rappels are from less than ideal stances and tree anchors and are best avoided. Jul 11, 2017
1. Definitely worth doing
2. Whatever you do, don't bring a #6 (We used a 5 a few times but you could definitely get away without it)
3. Guidebook is misleading, the 2 bolts protect the wide crack way lower than the topo makes it look like. I clipped the first bolt before I was pulling through the crux. The guidebook really hypes up the difficulty on this one. 5.8 with a few short wide bits. This would be 5.7 at Index.... Aug 26, 2017
Wenatchee, WA
Jplotz   Wenatchee, WA
I really enjoyed this route, in a blue collar sort of way. Heady but safe offwidth climbing. The bolts take the sting out of the crux. And that stance before the foot traverse is wildly exposed! Being in the cold, dark shade all day adds to this climb!
But don't misled by previous comments about it being soft (5.7 Index, blah, blah. Yes, we get it. Everything's sooo much harder at Index). If you're a 5.8, or even 5.9 onsight leader thinking that this is below your onsight limit, then you may be rudely awakened.
Sep 11, 2017
We climbed this 5/26/18, with firm snow (4:30 AM) all the way from the road up to the ledge traverse midway up P1; we didn't rope up until setting up shop at the base of P2. No snow at all on the route until we topped out above P8 (Nicholson topo). Runouts on P2 didn't seem too bad, and the climbing was fun and solid up through both 5.9 pitches (the flake is an awesome lie-back, but then I've always loved that maneuver).

I'm with Rafe on this one; for me, the crux was Nicholson's P7, the "5.8+" OW. I didn't necessarily feel like the #6 was all that critical, but the climbing was darned awkward, with nothing useful for feet in a couple particularly rough spots. We linked this pitch with the preceding 5.9+ section with no issue on a 70m.

Our plan was to rap Tooth & Claw to the right of our line (due to the snow approach, we had axes/boots/crampons at the base). Turns out our beta on getting to these anchors was distinctly sub-optimal, especially early season; if rapping the route, DO NOT traverse to the notch next to the true summit spire. The top rap anchors for T&C are on the main face, about 20' below the wide platform to the right of the East Face top-out (just down and right from the top of Nicholson's P8); however, the "4th or very easy 5th" scramble down to them was entirely obscured by the four feet of snow atop the platform, so it took us a while to find the rings. All subsequent rap anchors are obvious, see the T&C route page for that info.

Oh, and a friend recommended doubles in fingers/hands; it was very occasionally nice to have these pieces at belays, but I had basically a full rack on my hip after each lead. Stick with a single. Jun 2, 2018
I climbed the route on 6/2/18 and we rapped tooth and claw with two 70m ropes and made it in 4 rappels. We were able to go to the p5 anchor from the top, then the p4 anchor after that we went to the p2 anchor and then to the base. That way you skip the tree anchor rappel and can do the whole descent off of bolt anchors. We stretched our 70m ropes however so don’t attempt it this way with two 60s and remember to tie knots in the end of you’re ropes! Jun 3, 2018
Nick Lenn
Nick Lenn  
A great route, but I'd be weary of basing it strictly just off of the rating. I should preface this with I went into this route with a much more experienced friend to lead the tougher pitches and knew I would be pushing grade for myself so take my comments in stride. If you're a new crack climber, or haven't climbed off-width then I would not recommend this being your first shot at it as it was for me, lol. I lead P#2 wasn't as bad as some made it out to be. Yes, it gets run-out, but the climbing wasn't bad. Route is definitely a bit blue collar coming up to the dead end chimney, but I still felt comfortable. We took a double rack, but also strung a couple pitches together. I think if you held true to the route you could easily do it with a single. The crux pitch was tough as a follower with a pack (had to hang it), but the off-width pitch after was much harder for me personally. We brought a 70m to climb on and a 70m static and rappelled Tooth and Claw so we didn't have to carry over boots, ice axe, etc. Personally, I'd just wait later in the year until the approach was dry and carryover. The route is overall great, and I'm super pumped we did it, but it's very sustained in my opinion. Rating seems right in line, just keep in mind that the tougher pitches are high on the route so if you're pushing your personal grade then they'll seem a lot harder. Jul 5, 2018

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