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Routes in Peak 3986

Milktoast Chimney T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Red Baron Tower T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Type: Trad, Alpine, 1100 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: Fred Beckey & Barry Hagen 1972, FFA Bruce Bindner & Pat Brennan 1996
Page Views: 288 total, 15/month
Shared By: Richard Shore on Jun 6, 2016
Admins: Chris Owen, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access limited from May to October every year Details


A fabulous backcountry route leading to an obscure summit, deep in the North Fork of Tuttle Creek. Listed as an "alternate route" to the Milktoast Chimney (III 5.8) in Moynier & Fiddlers Sierra Classics book, this route has much greater visual appeal than the latter, following a perfectly square-cut dihedral system near the right edge of the tower. Highly featured rock yields a combination of crack-and-face climbing on nearly every pitch. Fred had an eye for a good line, and this one wont disappoint. An error in the topo - which describes the crux pitch as "R-rated" - has undoubtedly deterred parties from attempting this route. It protects well through the crux sections.

P0) A 5.easy scramble up the right side of the slabby wall guarding the base leads to a long leftward traverse on a big ledge to the start of the route.

P1) Up the chimney, stepping left to belay on a ledge below the massive roofs. 5.8 100'

P2) Traverse out left underneath the big roofs, then head up the beautiful RF corner to a small stance atop a flake on the left side. 5.9+ 160'

P3) Continue up the sweet corner, stepping right (crux) into another crack when things start to get thin and hard. Pass a giant detached block and belay at a nice stance above. 5.10 165'

P4) Climb fantastic face features on the right wall of the now brushy corner, occasionally stepping left to place protection. Belay on a stance inside a short chimney or at another ledge 15' above. 5.8R 165-180'

P5) Another RF corner, hands & fists, leading to a big sandy platform. 5.9 150'

P6) More goodness. RF corner with a few small roofs to the top of the pillar. 5.8+ 100'

P7) A short shallow & flared crack leads to a long traverse right on a ledge, up a nice crack, then a long traverse back left on a ledge to the base of the final RF corner. 5.8 100'

P8) A RF corner with some bushes and deteriorating rock leads to the awesome summit block.


To descend, traverse the pinnacled summit ridge towards the wall behind, then head left (West) past the first gully and descend the second major gully system. Near the bottom, the gully cliffs out, but you can continue skiers right on ledges leading to the sandy valley below.


2x cams from tiny to 3", single 4", stoppers.
Words from the late, great, Brutus of Wyde:

"Two years after the ascent of the Direct South Face (Lone Pine Peak), Fred returned to the area with Barry Hagen and made the long, arduous approach to Red Baron Tower. After working through the fearsome overhangs and steep dihedrals low on the route, the pair found continuously interesting free climbing to the summit.

For many years, this climb remained unrepeated. The easier approach to longer routes in the drainage doubtless was a factor, as was Steve Roper's "Climber's Guide to the High Sierras" which described the descent as a series of rappels -- an unsavory prospect. And why spend a full day hiking upcanyon when the luxurious shelter of Stonehouse was available for the climbs in the lower canyon? Regardless, any free attempt on the tower would require intimidating climbing through the roofs guarding the first few pitches.

In July, 1995 Pat Brennan and I, having climbed many of the routes in the lower drainage, wandered upcanyon to establish the beautiful Zig-Zag Dihedral route on the south face of Peak 12,960+. During this ascent, we had the opportunity to study the Red Baron Tower.

What we saw convinced us that a free attempt was warranted. The next summer found us again camped beside the stream near the base of the climb. The following day we were to discover that the entry overhangs went free at a casual 5.8. The next section, however, gave each of us pause: A few very large, loose flakes on the route (some of which we trundled) were evidence that we were among a handful of climbers who had ever ventured there. Incredibly steep, surprisingly solid rock, brushy hairline cracks and difficult climbing eventually brought us to the upper pitches, which we expected to ease back into fairly mellow climbing.

What we found instead was cracks in the 5.7-5.9 range, only slightly easier than the sections Beckey and Hagen had aided. Conscious of having spent more time on the upper pitches than we had expected, we spent little time on the summit, pausing only long enough to finish the last of our water before searching for a descent.

Returning to camp that evening, we rested in a flat meadow, next to a bubbling stream, and looked back up at the steep, sustained dihedral. It was then that we realized we had just been treated to one of the finer routes in the southern Sierras." Jun 6, 2016