Type: Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 424 total · 16/month
Shared By: Scott Coldiron on Oct 12, 2016
Admins: Mike Engle

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An incredible splitter 3 pitch chimney.. You can't help but want to climb this when you see it, even if chimneys aren't your thing.


On the left side of the West Face. You can't miss it.


Gear- sizes unknown


Jacob Schmidt
Spokane, WA
Jacob Schmidt   Spokane, WA
There seems to be some dispute over which route on the west face this actually is. The wild looking steep squeeze in the photo here is the first route that comes into view on the approach of, however there is a large chimney corner system further right along this same wall that appears in a photo on the main Lions Head page. I climbed the route on the right with a large group (6 climbers) in August. The fact that the right side route tunnels deep into the mountain and emerges through a small slot at the top makes it a worthy bearer of the name "catacombs" however more of the photos here indicate the offwidth on the left side of the wall.

If the right side route is the one described here, it is important to note that there are a large number of heavy balancing blocks throughout the second pitch. I would not recommend this route for parties larger than two for this reason.

Message or email me if you have any real information about this route. Sep 18, 2017
Earl Lunceford
Coeur d'Alene, ID
Earl Lunceford   Coeur d'Alene, ID
Hey fellas,
It sounds like the Lions Head may have more west face routes than are documented. I'm not concerned with proving anyone wrong, it would just be nice know what's what over there.
In Thad Lairds climbing Guide he describes the catacombs route as, "Sitting on the west face but facing due south." The splitter route picture here does not face due south, it faces due west.Chimney Rock lies 15 miles south of the Lions Head and this is not the route which parallels chimney rock.
Laird goes on to describe the route as being, "tucked back in a corner system at a spot where the west face bulges out".
I agree that the route pictured here is indeed at a place where the west face bulges out, but is not necessarily in a corner system; at least not in the same way that the other route is.
Also, the splitter route pictured here looks stouter than 5.7
If the route pictured here isn't the catacombs (which I assert it is not) then maybe someone just needs to give it a name.
The other West face route which I believe to be the catacombs is the one which Jacob Schmidt mentions. This route is to the right of the "splitter" pictured here and is nearly smack dab in the middle of the west face. It is tucked behind a sort of near overlapping buttress that has a sliver of bright yellow rock on it and is in the only other significant corner system on the west face. Sep 19, 2017
The observations by Jacob and Earl sound right. I ascended Lions Head with a buddy back in 1980 or '81 via the Abandoned Creek approach. It's been a long time but my recollection is that the obvious splitter beckoned us as noted by Coldiron, but we passed on it for lack of ability to protect as we had only a rope some slings, and maybe a couple stoppers (if any). I vaguely recall climbing a short class 5 pitch to a ledge where we were drawn deep into the mountain from whence we stemmed up chimneys before emerging through a slot into daylight. A scramble along the crest took us to the true summit where we found a register containing a handful of entries with the names Roskelley and Kopczynski standing out in my mind at the time. We signed the register, briefly noting our route of ascent which I called "Catacombs" and hence the name for that particular route. Coldiron's route is likely a different and surely more stout one than the true Catacombs. ~ Mark Feb 14, 2018
Jacob Schmidt
Spokane, WA
Jacob Schmidt   Spokane, WA
Wow, thanks Mark! Great history on this route. Feb 19, 2018