Bastille Buttress - Beckey Route
Trad, Aid, Alpine, 2000 ft, 15 pitches, Grade V,
Avg: 3.8 from 22
FA: Fred Beckey, Joe Brown, & Chuck Haas, 1969
> High Sierra
> 14 - Whitney &…
> Lone Pine Peak
Certain Peaks: Access limited from May to October every year
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!
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
alpenglow on the Bastille Buttress
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
Dave Russell cruising the Ultimate Finger Crack 5.10c
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!!!
Erik Harz on the Shark Fin, Pitch 14
Improvised bivy from the storm half way through pitch 8!!!!
Top of route with Sharks Fin just below. What an Epic Line!!!
Following on the slabs of pitch 2