Type: Trad, 3 pitches, Grade III
FA: Kevin Kent, Casey Niggemyer 6/2015
Page Views: 1,553 total · 30/month
Shared By: Kevin Kent on Jun 29, 2015
Admins: Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick

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Description

A proud spire hidden deep in the West Fork, located in a sub-drainage canyoneers call Insomnia Canyon. It's a little complicated to climb this tower but it is an awesome and awarding adventure in beautiful and seldom visited place.

Casey and I did the first ascent of this route and tower just after both of our 25th birthdays. We wanted to do a birthday challenge but were too soft to do 25 pitches in a day and couldn't think of anything else so this is it. I have no idea how the climb relates to the number 25 so if you think of anything clever let me know.

Route:
Start from the obvious large flat ledge area after the last approach rap.

P1: Climb up low angle ramp, traverse across top, and belay from furthest small pine tree separating the fin you are on from the spire proper. 5.6 R, 150' (note: this pitch is downclimbed on descent)

P2: From small tree belay downclimb northeast into the notch to where you can stem across to a 2 bolt anchor (uncomfortable wide stemming or hanging belay). 5.8 50'

P3: 5.10+ crux is moving up left for 5-10' off of the belay (now has one protection bolt) and gaining the arete and the opportunity for protection. From here the rest of the pitch is 5.9+. At a small tree 30' up move left onto crack in the north face. Climb up crack and large patina edges to the top and belay off the 2 bolt summit anchor. 5.10+, 120'.

Descent:
With a little swinging around you can do a single rope rap from the summit back to the tree belay at the end of P1. From here reverse P1 down the ramp.

Protection

Double or triple rack from purple TCU to #3 C4. 70m rope. More ropes to fix for approach and ascenders.

Location

The good news here is that you can drive within 1/4 mile of this tower on good FS roads that don't require high clearance or 4x4 (when dry). The bad news is it's kind of a bitch to approach from there, or more precisely, get back out.

From Route 66 in Flagstaff go south 25 miles down Woody Mountain Road (FS 231). Turn left onto FS 778 and follow it about 2 miles until it ends at Buckhead Point (excellent camping with great views down into the West Fork).

Here's how we approached. A better option might exist.
From the parking area go straight north and immediately start descending down a forested ridge that trends slightly northeast. After about 4-5 mins cut east and start scrambling down a blunt sandstone ridge. After 2-3 more minutes you'll arrive at a chasm separating you from the continuation of the blunt sandstone ridge. Fix a rope and rap 100' to the notch at the bottom of this chasm. From here scramble south down the gully, perhaps doing one more 25' rappel (or downclimb) to where the gully opens up and the hillside is heavily choked with manzanita. Cut left(east again) along the base of the wall and thrash for 5 minutes until you arrive at the end of the large ledge, next to 2 very large pines, with the spire now just below you to the south. From the 2 large pines or slightly back west find a spot to rappel 100' down to the ledge. From this manzanita choked ledge do one more 120' rappel down to the ledge at the base of the route.

Photos