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Routes in South Early Winters Spire

Boving Roofs T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Direct East Buttress T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Hitchhiker, The T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
Northwest Face (Boving-Pollock) T 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Passenger, The T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
South Arete T 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a
Southern Man T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Southwest Couloir Mod. Snow
Southwest Rib T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
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Type: Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, Grade III
FA: Fred Beckey and Doug Leen, 1968
Page Views: 7,995 total · 82/month
Shared By: Matt Clifton on Sep 7, 2010
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

You & This Route


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Description



Pitch 1: Rambling 5.6 pitch, go as far as you can until you see a reasonable tree to anchor off of. It was the usual alpine first pitch, some moss, loose rock, and vegetation. Reasonable gear along the way.

Pitch 2: 5.8 crack system with various ledges that brings you to the bottom of the large dihedral. Although the pitch is called 5.8, I had a hard time finding the 5.8 move where we went, it felt a lot like 5.6. The pitch definitely had some loose “kitty litter” rock on it, which made things a little more interesting. Belay at the obvious tree.

Pitch 3: 5.9+ up the dihedral, through a roof, up to a tree. Standard “5.9+” pitch in the alpine, good gear the whole way, crux at the roof with good gear at your waist, step up, drop in a nice #4, ramble up to the tree. Continue another ~60 feet of 5.8 terrain on good clean rock, up to a nice ledge with several trees.

Pitch 4: 5.10+ (or A0). After a 20 foot section of 5.8/9, you come to the first of ~14 bolts in the ladder (10+ / A0) and exit on a 15 foot section including some face moves and a finger crack (5.8/9). Contrary to the many descriptions out there, there are far more than two old bolts on this pitch (and the route). Only two of the old bolts require small width biners, but if you head up, prepare yourself for clipping into some real manky bolts alongside the good ones. At the last bolt, head out on some face moves to gain the finger crack. The pitch ends at a nice hanging belay on two solid bolts (super exposed!).

Pitch 5: 5.10-. After traversing over on one good and one bad bolt, you hit a nice finger crack that takes solid jams and (despite what other descriptions say) good gear. After about 40 feet, the angle decreases and becomes about 5.7 to a small ledge. The Beckey guide describes there being a bush there, but now there is only a small stick.

Pitch 6: 5.11 (or A0). The pitch starts with mixed descriptions: 5.8 (Beckey), 5.9 (N&P), 10- (several online descriptions). I have to agree with the online descriptions. Head up a right leaning crack to some questionable gear followed by a bolt. Continue to a sloping ledge about 20 feet up with no gear on difficult terrain. From the ledge, head left to find the first of several bolts in the ladder. If you are aiding the ladder, note that there are two mandatory free 5.9+ mantles. The first mantel is steeper with decent holds. Clip three more bolts and do the second mandatory free 5.9+ mantel (more sloopy / balancy). Continue left up small ledges to a nice ledge with a single (old) bolt and a small crack.

Pitch 7: 5.6. After one tough move off the ledge, continue up a nice wandering series of cracks to one of many trees. Not a lot of gear, although you can occasionally girth hitching trees that likely would only hold a falling poodle. Belay at one of many trees.

Pitch 8: Easy fifth. Head up rambling ledges, cracks, and trees to a large ledge. Straight above is a large mossy slab, instead of climbing that, head around the corner (left) to a crack and a final easy (unprotected) slab. Nice bolts at the anchor right on the edge of the east face. Definitely a fantastic top out.

Pitch 9: An intimidating 5.4 step down lead to easy terrain and the true summit. From the bolts, down climb about 10 feet and find a small ramp and a nice couple of holds to make the step down. Option: This move is scarier for the second, however if desired, you could put the second through the anchors, bring them down on TR, have them untie, pull the rope, and finish the easier terrain.

Location

Approach: Hike up from the hairpin up the main gully, traverse right, come up to the intersection between NEWS and SEWS, then head left to the base of the route. Head up the snow (crampons helpful in early season), head up to the tall tree in the center of the gully, traversed across the steep dirt and grass to the right, and headed up to the intersection of NEWS and SEWS. However, this takes you a little too far to the right, its better to take an earlier “ridge” that takes you further left of the intersection.

Descent: down the south arete route, mostly 3rd/4th class, a short exposed fifth section, and then two single rope rappels to the base. Its easiest to hike back down the other side and bum a ride back to you car at the hairpin.

Protection

Standard alpine rack to 4", several small carabiners for the old bolts on pitches 4 and 6 (hero loops would work as well).

Photos

FA: Fred Beckey and Doug Leen, 1968 Apr 23, 2012
eric schweitzer
Bend, Oregon
eric schweitzer   Bend, Oregon
Very interesting and exciting crux pitch. Quite possibly easier than the slabby 10d pitch below (first bolt ladder). Aug 24, 2012
Ol Toby
CA
  5.11-
Ol Toby   CA
  5.11-
Nice route despite the so-so rock quality down low. The moderate climbing at the start and finish enable a lot of the climbing to go quickly.

In line with the Supertopo ratings, I found pitch 4 to be the crux rather than pitch 6. Pitch 6 is steeper and more powerful but difficulties are over quickly The reachy moves around the arete on pitch 4 felt harder to me. All bolts protecting cruxes on both harder pitches are new and bomber. The few old bolts that remain are on easier ground and generally followed by new hardware. Aug 14, 2013
Rafe
  5.11a
Rafe  
  5.11a
I would agree, pitch 4 is definitely the more challenging free pitch. Jul 7, 2014
Drewsky  
Fun route. I have to agree with the .10d pitch being the more sustained of the two cruxes, but it was in the sun and I'd forgotten my chalk bag, so it felt extra slippery. The rambling 5.easy throughout was a lot of fun and following the little 5th class 'step down' on the last pitch was slightly exciting. We maybe started climbing around 11AM; in summer and if one is efficient enough a slightly later start is probably better in order to reach the first crux after the shade has hit and it's cooled down a bit.

We somewhat biffed the approach, perhaps by going too far up the initial gully; we went to the right around the first cliff band but then ultimately ended up further left than others have described. At the 2nd tier of cliffs there's a large, overhanging wall on the left. Near this is a chossy 3rd/4th slab with a fixed rope. Going up the rope put us below and left of the treed ledge where the first pitch begins. It looked like some folks had tried to climb directly up to it on the left side via some cracks because there was bail gear in a couple of spots; instead we followed the wall down a little to a notch and were then on track for the 'approach' pitch. Jul 4, 2015
Great line and great route. You can easily link pitches 4 and 5 to avoid the hanging belay. There's a huge comfy ledge at the end. May 19, 2016
IJMayer
Anacortes, WA
 
IJMayer   Anacortes, WA
 
In regards to P4, P5, and P6 as described above on MP:

I had heard beta that it was fairly easy to skip the 2 bolt anchor at the end of P4. I continued heading up P5, but after the finger crack, I could not really find an anchor that I felt comfortable with with the gear I had available. I decided to continue up and right (the beginning of the MP description of P6), past the questionable gear, the lone bolt, and to the large ledge. This made for a nice belay ledge, but definitely no-fall climbing on 5.9 terrain and lots of rope drag.

If you choose to do this:
1). bring a 70m rope, or tell your partner not to fall as they will have to start climbing before you reach the large ledge
2). bring the whole rack. even though most of the protection is bolts, having a wider assortment than I had will help with the questionable gear
3). if belaying on the large ledge on the right side, after the questionable gear and the lone bolt, save a black diamond #3 and some other gear between a BD .75 and #3 for the anchor. Aug 18, 2017
Matthew Tangeman
Bellingham, WA
 
Matthew Tangeman   Bellingham, WA
 
Second everything IJMayer said. Cascades Rock recommends linking (as described here) P4, P5 and the start of P6. I did it and it worked, but I had the worst rope drag I could imagine while pulling the final traversing moves the ledge - not cool as the gear is a little spaced out.

If you do this, make sure to backclean the bolt ladder as much as you can, and make sure to fully extend any gear you place within 10m of the bolted belay.

The belay at the top of P5 (as described here) looked pretty marginal, but I didn't hang out there long. If you link the pitches like Cascades Rock says, saving a #3 C4 for the belay is a good call.

Two star climbing with a four star line and position. Jul 2, 2018
Anastasia B
Portland, OR
 
Anastasia B   Portland, OR
 
Awesome route! But there is a lot of bolts, even for the A0 bolt ladders standards. Every two feet or so, wow.
Re: the approach - the best description is given in the Cascade Rock book - DO not go up to the largest tree in the Hairpin gully, instead reach the green meadow at the top of the orange rib (300' below the tree) on the right and take a sharp right immediately, traverse over below the polished granite slab, cross the sketchy chute (there are a few cairns), downclimb the steep heather to the point where its possible to traverse over around the toe of the buttress. At this point, there are three gullies heading up to the SEWS/NEWS V-notch, take the second gully from the left and head up almost all the way to the V-notch.

There was a running water at the top of the gully in the end of July 2018. Jul 30, 2018
As of Sunday August 5th ('18) - thanks to the guys who were there on 8/4/18 and finished re-equipping the route with all new hardware. Felt way more secure than when I did it 5 years ago on those ancient bolts! Thanks guys! Also - 5 years ago, my partner went right after pitch 2 - before the dihedral and we did an alternate pitch 3 and 4 up to the base of the bolt ladders. I've rarely seen this alternate described, but it was also good fun and similar difficultly to the dihedral and roof pitch. Fun to do the normal variation this time. Aug 6, 2018

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