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Bastille Buttress - Beckey Route

5.10d A0, Trad, Aid, Alpine, 2000 ft, 15 pitches, Grade V,  Avg: 3.8 from 22 votes
FA: Fred Beckey, Joe Brown, & Chuck Haas, 1969
California > High Sierra > 14 - Whitney &… > Lone Pine Peak
Access Issue: Certain Peaks: Access limited from May to October every year Details


An awesome adventure on a beautiful 2,000' granite buttress on the North Ridge of Lone Pine Peak. A "sleeper" classic that was recently published in Fred Beckey's 100 Favorite Climbs book.

A good topo and approach information exists in the Bishop Area Rock Climbs guide by P. Croft. Depending on the time of year, you may have to traverse an ice, snow, or scree-filled gulley to get to the base of the route.

It has been awhile since I climbed it, so this is my best recollection of the route. Please add any comments or corrections.

P1) Just right of the toe of the buttress, simulclimb an obvious crack system that heads up and splits into two. We took the right crack, which proved to be a bit of a slimy, flaring squeeze. Belay at a large, boulder covered ledge at the base of a massive left-facing hollow arch. 5.7, 100m.

P2) Follow a LF corner and slab with sparse gear to a small stance at the base of a short steep section of face with a bolt. Gear belay, 5.8R, 55m.

P3) Up a short steep face past a bolt, then follow obvious weaknesses leftward to a semi-hanging belay from gear. 5.8+, 40m.

P4) A crack leads up to a long, unprotected foot-traverse right across a horizontal seam that wraps around the buttress. A slabby move or two directly up from the seam leads to a huge black knob and a bolted belay. 5.7R, 40m.

P5) Some mandatory 5.9 slab past two or three bolts leads to the steep A0 bolt ladder. Aid your way up to a bolted hanging belay. Aiders and jumars are not necessary here, get creative and use some shoulder slings. 5.9 A0, 35m. This vertical pane of glass is rumored to have been freed at 5.13!

P6) "The Ultimate Finger Crack." If this thing were on ground level it would have a waiting line year-round. A clean splitter that varies from tips to thin-hands with nary a foothold in sight. Small cams (up to .75 camalot) and nuts will fit just about anywhere on this one. Originally rated A1, but goes free at a reasonable 5.10c. Perfect. Gear belay at a stance atop a horizontal dike. 5.10c, 30m.

P7) Continue up the awesome crack (albeit at a lower angle) as it turns the corner and widens into a grain-silo squeeze chimney. Gear belay at a small stance at the base of a steep LF dihedral. 5.8, 30m.

P8) The Crux. A steep LF dihedral with a crack that varies from fingers to fists. Ideal belay is at a poor stance after turning a small roof towards the end of the steep section. If you're like me, you may only have one cam and a few nuts left after leading this beast and may have to belay wherever possible. 5.10d 40m.

P9) A grainy, possibly hollow LF flake in the corner leads up to a funky mantle move right on a ledge around the arete. An easy corner goes up to a nice gear/sling belay in a notch. 5.10a, 40m.

P10) Up an easy section of slab to a large triangular roof. Place a piece in the roof with a long sling, then step down a few feet until your hands can reach the lip on the left side. Crank over the lip and up towards a stance belay with small gear and a fixed pin or two. A short pitch, 5.6/7, 20?m.

P11&12) I linked these two (accidentally) with a 60m rope. A few thin moves off the belay leads to fun and juggy 5.6 face climbing left around the arete past a very old bolt which sticks out very far (I’ve since heard this bolt was removed by hand). Climb past a small ledge (possible belay) and choose between a short squeeze on the left or unprotected 5.5ish face just to the right. Gear belay from a comfy ledge. 5.8/9, 50+m.

P13) Up and left across a short slab past two bolts (1 hangerless) to a shallow groove that leads up and left to a short chimney. Finish up the chimney to a bolted belay atop a big ledge. 5.7, 40m.

P14) An A0 move off the belay (or 5.11+) leads to a knobby 5.7 face with two bolts. Above this, easy terrain leads to the "Shark's Fin", a wildly exposed perched boulder on the narrow ridgeline. Climb up and over the fin to a massive ledge and belay from boulders.

P15) I was unsure where this final pitch went. Supposed to check in at 5.9. There is a steep block above the belay ledge, and the line may have gone somewhere near the right side of it, but there was a large snow bank blocking our way in April. I opted for a line on the left that was a bit runout, with my only pro being a slung horn about 30' up, well after the difficult sections were over. From there, easy blocky terrain led to the top.

Descent beta: The "standard" summertime descent heads up the ridge (climber's left) to a long scree-filled gully along the left side of the buttress. In April, this gulley was active with small avalanches throughout the day, so we opted to take a long and convoluted descent down the north ridge, eventually contouring back south into the main drainage.

Gear: Double rack from #0 TCU to #3 camalot, set of nuts. A #4 camalot was handy on the P8 crux. Many long slings. Nearly all of the protection bolts on this route have been replaced by the ASCA. The last two bolts on the A0 ladder (P5) are 1969 originals! One buttonhead with leeper hanger, and another 1/4" stud with homemade aluminum hanger and square nut!

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Richard Shore following the beautiful P6 10c splitter on the Beckey Route, Bastille Buttress. Photo: E. Harz
[Hide Photo] Richard Shore following the beautiful P6 10c splitter on the Beckey Route, Bastille Buttress. Photo: E. Harz
looking down at the ultimate 10c finger crack
[Hide Photo] looking down at the ultimate 10c finger crack
alpenglow on the Bastille Buttress
[Hide Photo] alpenglow on the Bastille Buttress
Bastille Buttress with approximate line and belay stations for the Beckey Route
[Hide Photo] Bastille Buttress with approximate line and belay stations for the Beckey Route
Last moves before the dike stance above the finger crack on pitch 6
[Hide Photo] Last moves before the dike stance above the finger crack on pitch 6
Dave Russell cruising the Ultimate Finger Crack 5.10c
[Hide Photo] Dave Russell cruising the Ultimate Finger Crack 5.10c
Joshua Reinig in the clouds high on crux pitch 8: the calm before the storm...
[Hide Photo] Joshua Reinig in the clouds high on crux pitch 8: the calm before the storm...
Looking down on Chris Norwood, following The Ultimite Finger Crack with a 20lbs pack like a Boss!!!
[Hide Photo] Looking down on Chris Norwood, following The Ultimite Finger Crack with a 20lbs pack like a Boss!!!
Erik Harz on the Shark Fin, Pitch 14
[Hide Photo] Erik Harz on the Shark Fin, Pitch 14
Improvised bivy from the storm half way through pitch 8!!!!
[Hide Photo] Improvised bivy from the storm half way through pitch 8!!!!
Top of route with Sharks Fin just below.<br>
What an Epic Line!!!
[Hide Photo] Top of route with Sharks Fin just below. What an Epic Line!!!
Following on the slabs of pitch 2
[Hide Photo] Following on the slabs of pitch 2

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Richard Shore
  5.10d A0
[Hide Comment] Original grade 5.8 A2. The crux pitches are well protected, and can easily be pulled through on gear if necessary (but why cheat yourself?). The rest of pitches are NOT well protected. Expect lots of heads-up slabbiness. The runouts are long enough to keep your head in check while on the easier terrain. Dec 7, 2011
Rick Ziegler
Bishop, CA
  5.10d A0
[Hide Comment] Great route. The cruxes protect well, on clean rock.

We found the approach was best by staying high on the east side of Inyo Creek until directly across from the toe of the buttress. The creek crossing is easy and gear could be left there and then picked up again after the descent. May 3, 2012
[Hide Comment] I found what is described as Pitch 13 to be about 250 feet. We split it into two, belaying just before the 5.6 chimney. On pitch 4, don't be suckered into the nice clean flake crack. The traverse is made from just below that crack. Fun route. For the approach, stay as high as possible above the creek. Jun 18, 2014
[Hide Comment] Thursday July 10th , 2014 : Completed the Bastille Buttress today with the following comments. All the previous comments are accurate. The location of the climb is amazing with towering granite towers seemingly everywhere. I would emphasize again that although the rating is 5.10d - 5.11 whatever, the obligatory runnouts and gear placements are somewhat serious. The headwall crack pitch is truly excellent in quality and without a doubt the highlight. However, this route I believe will not attract many takers until bolt anchors are installed at most of the belays. This would be a huge improvement. Be prepared for many hanging/ leaning belays off gear. Bring extra gear for these belays. Used many wired stoppers for the 10c crack pitch. Emphasize smaller cam sizes. Approach high on the east side of the creek. From the summit, we ascended the north ridge for what felt like much more that 1/4 mile to the tree filled gully just below a steep headwall on the north ridge. Hope that helps. Jul 13, 2014
Johnny Y
[Hide Comment] Thanks to a group of SFSU geologists the trail up Inyo Creek is now well marked. We brought double up to 3", one 4" and double set of small to med nuts and it was sufficient. Nuts worked really well on the finger crack and many of the belays. I thought the moves getting to the first A0 bolt on pitch 5 was harder than any other 5.9 slabs on the route, but it's well protected. Fun and adventurous route with lots of variety, all gear anchors are good, no need for bolted anchors on this pristine alpine route. Jul 28, 2014
[Hide Comment] IMHO, the gear belays are NOT all good. Some are very good, some are not so good. Be prepared to equalize some marginal pieces at times. Bolts at these marginal belays would be a plus. Aug 4, 2014
Jake P
Santa Ana
  5.10d A0
[Hide Comment] No extra bolts needed on this climb. The belays are fine with natural gear. If extra people don't end up on this climb bc there aren't bolted belays so be it. Feb 23, 2015
[Hide Comment] #4 was not worth bringing - a second set of nuts would be.
Conditions are excellent right now! Jun 9, 2015
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
[Hide Comment] Fred Beckey and Joe Brown - quite the combo... Nov 11, 2015
Anthony H
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Amazing adventure route!

The crux pitches are well protected. The 10c finger crack pitch eats nuts since the crack is pretty irregular. The lower half of the climb seems to be quite crumbly, coupled with the runouts on easier terrain, it's enough to keep the excitement level high. Rock quality seems to get better as you climb higher. We ran into the SFSU geologists on the way out, and they told us that the crumbliness is due to the non-glaciated nature of the valley (pretty cool stuff!).

Other beta:
- The Croft guidebook shows two variations for P9 before gaining the 5.6 arete - one stays left in the corner and another goes around an arete to the right to go up the face with a bolt. Well turns out the face is a runout horrorfest and the bolt was nowhere in sight. So I suppose staying in the left corner is a probably better way to go.
- On P15, after the Shark's Fin, we belayed from the massive ledge, did some 4th class along a narrow ledge to the right, and found the 5.9 squeeze chimney as described by the Croft guidebook. From the top of the squeeze, it's easy climbing to the top. Nov 13, 2015
Colin Yinzer
Los Angeles
[Hide Comment] Don't take this full-value adventure lightly ... I think i might have have been handed my first epic by this route...

Stay high above the creek on the way in, and resist the urge to cross until you've put in some mileage.
Some cairns exist, but many were toppled and the trail fully changed by the big 2017 snowfalls melting out.

We zipped up the first 5 Pitches, and started up the finger-crack. Its technical, thin at times, even rounded- be prepared for an effort here. I basically had to yard up on yellow metoulious even 2nd-ing because I was just thrashed from the walk-in, exposure, and not fit. Alot of fingerlocks. Thank god my partner would handle this and the 10c pitch. We did a substantial amount of 'french-free' ing on both pitches, though looking back it seems true free climbing would have been more possible if we were more fit.

The chimney that preceded p7 was a full on battle, we both had to trail our packs. We swore off anything but a follower-pack after completing this route. It was a bit chilly being early-november so we had warm gear, lots of food & water...

The 10d corner is no joke, with much of the gear & moves being tucked far back in the buldging corner. I struggled seconding this, but pulled a few fake hero moves around the roof that felt fun.

The sun set on us around p10, and I followed the disappearing 'twin cracks' too far, and took a cheesgrader fall after having my top piece pull that left me pretty shaken. You want to move left out of the twin-cracks early and aim for the slabby looking 'arete' its more of a rise that you cross over to find the now more 5th-class upper pitches.

we encountered some frosty rock on the upper pitches. The squeeze looked tough and hard to protect (we were glad to have a no. 4) and we took some angling cracks just right of this that looked easier.

The ridge feels more like 1/2 mile. Aim for a slot right of the big giant boulder. Descending has several cliff-outs. use good judgement. a 4-5 hr descent Nov 9, 2017