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South Early Winters Spire
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Direct East Buttress 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 9 pitches, Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Fred Beckey and Doug Leen, 1968
Season: Summer
Page Views: 6,699
Submitted By: Matt Clifton on Sep 7, 2010

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Victoria Witrak on 1st bolt ladder pitch


Pitch 1: Rambling 5.6 pitch, go as far as you can until you see a reasonable tree to anchor off of. It was the usual alpine first pitch, some moss, loose rock, and vegetation. Reasonable gear along the way.

Pitch 2: 5.8 crack system with various ledges that brings you to the bottom of the large dihedral. Although the pitch is called 5.8, I had a hard time finding the 5.8 move where we went, it felt a lot like 5.6. The pitch definitely had some loose “kitty litter” rock on it, which made things a little more interesting. Belay at the obvious tree.

Pitch 3: 5.9+ up the dihedral, through a roof, up to a tree. Standard “5.9+” pitch in the alpine, good gear the whole way, crux at the roof with good gear at your waist, step up, drop in a nice #4, ramble up to the tree. Continue another ~60 feet of 5.8 terrain on good clean rock, up to a nice ledge with several trees.

Pitch 4: 5.10+ (or A0). After a 20 foot section of 5.8/9, you come to the first of ~14 bolts in the ladder (10+ / A0) and exit on a 15 foot section including some face moves and a finger crack (5.8/9). Contrary to the many descriptions out there, there are far more than two old bolts on this pitch (and the route). Only two of the old bolts require small width biners, but if you head up, prepare yourself for clipping into some real manky bolts alongside the good ones. At the last bolt, head out on some face moves to gain the finger crack. The pitch ends at a nice hanging belay on two solid bolts (super exposed!).

Pitch 5: 5.10-. After traversing over on one good and one bad bolt, you hit a nice finger crack that takes solid jams and (despite what other descriptions say) good gear. After about 40 feet, the angle decreases and becomes about 5.7 to a small ledge. The Beckey guide describes there being a bush there, but now there is only a small stick.

Pitch 6: 5.11 (or A0). The pitch starts with mixed descriptions: 5.8 (Beckey), 5.9 (N&P), 10- (several online descriptions). I have to agree with the online descriptions. Head up a right leaning crack to some questionable gear followed by a bolt. Continue to a sloping ledge about 20 feet up with no gear on difficult terrain. From the ledge, head left to find the first of several bolts in the ladder. If you are aiding the ladder, note that there are two mandatory free 5.9+ mantles. The first mantel is steeper with decent holds. Clip three more bolts and do the second mandatory free 5.9+ mantel (more sloopy / balancy). Continue left up small ledges to a nice ledge with a single (old) bolt and a small crack.

Pitch 7: 5.6. After one tough move off the ledge, continue up a nice wandering series of cracks to one of many trees. Not a lot of gear, although you can occasionally girth hitching trees that likely would only hold a falling poodle. Belay at one of many trees.

Pitch 8: Easy fifth. Head up rambling ledges, cracks, and trees to a large ledge. Straight above is a large mossy slab, instead of climbing that, head around the corner (left) to a crack and a final easy (unprotected) slab. Nice bolts at the anchor right on the edge of the east face. Definitely a fantastic top out.

Pitch 9: An intimidating 5.4 step down lead to easy terrain and the true summit. From the bolts, down climb about 10 feet and find a small ramp and a nice couple of holds to make the step down. Option: This move is scarier for the second, however if desired, you could put the second through the anchors, bring them down on TR, have them untie, pull the rope, and finish the easier terrain.


Approach: Hike up from the hairpin up the main gully, traverse right, come up to the intersection between NEWS and SEWS, then head left to the base of the route. Head up the snow (crampons helpful in early season), head up to the tall tree in the center of the gully, traversed across the steep dirt and grass to the right, and headed up to the intersection of NEWS and SEWS. However, this takes you a little too far to the right, its better to take an earlier “ridge” that takes you further left of the intersection.

Descent: down the south arete route, mostly 3rd/4th class, a short exposed fifth section, and then two single rope rappels to the base. Its easiest to hike back down the other side and bum a ride back to you car at the hairpin.


Standard alpine rack to 4", several small carabiners for the old bolts on pitches 4 and 6 (hero loops would work as well).

Photos of Direct East Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Third pitch
Third pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climbers topping out the DEB
Unknown climbers topping out the DEB
Rock Climbing Photo: Victoria Witrak soloing up to the start of the 5.9...
Victoria Witrak soloing up to the start of the 5.9...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 1
Pitch 1
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 4
Pitch 4
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at SEWS (left) and NEWS (right) from th...
Looking up at SEWS (left) and NEWS (right) from th...

Comments on Direct East Buttress Add Comment
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By skidat801pow
Apr 23, 2012

FA: Fred Beckey and Doug Leen, 1968
By eric schweitzer
From: Bend, Oregon
Aug 24, 2012

Very interesting and exciting crux pitch. Quite possibly easier than the slabby 10d pitch below (first bolt ladder).
By Ol Toby
From: CA
Aug 14, 2013
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Nice route despite the so-so rock quality down low. The moderate climbing at the start and finish enable a lot of the climbing to go quickly.

In line with the Supertopo ratings, I found pitch 4 to be the crux rather than pitch 6. Pitch 6 is steeper and more powerful but difficulties are over quickly The reachy moves around the arete on pitch 4 felt harder to me. All bolts protecting cruxes on both harder pitches are new and bomber. The few old bolts that remain are on easier ground and generally followed by new hardware.
By Rafe
Jul 7, 2014
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

I would agree, pitch 4 is definitely the more challenging free pitch.
By Drewsky
Jul 4, 2015

Fun route. I have to agree with the .10d pitch being the more sustained of the two cruxes, but it was in the sun and I'd forgotten my chalk bag, so it felt extra slippery. The rambling 5.easy throughout was a lot of fun and following the little 5th class 'step down' on the last pitch was slightly exciting. We maybe started climbing around 11AM; in summer and if one is efficient enough a slightly later start is probably better in order to reach the first crux after the shade has hit and it's cooled down a bit.

We somewhat biffed the approach, perhaps by going too far up the initial gully; we went to the right around the first cliff band but then ultimately ended up further left than others have described. At the 2nd tier of cliffs there's a large, overhanging wall on the left. Near this is a chossy 3rd/4th slab with a fixed rope. Going up the rope put us below and left of the treed ledge where the first pitch begins. It looked like some folks had tried to climb directly up to it on the left side via some cracks because there was bail gear in a couple of spots; instead we followed the wall down a little to a notch and were then on track for the 'approach' pitch.
By Erroneous Publicus
May 19, 2016

Great line and great route. You can easily link pitches 4 and 5 to avoid the hanging belay. There's a huge comfy ledge at the end.
By IJMayer
From: Bellingham, WA
Aug 18, 2017

In regards to P4, P5, and P6 as described above on MP:

I had heard beta that it was fairly easy to skip the 2 bolt anchor at the end of P4. I continued heading up P5, but after the finger crack, I could not really find an anchor that I felt comfortable with with the gear I had available. I decided to continue up and right (the beginning of the MP description of P6), past the questionable gear, the lone bolt, and to the large ledge. This made for a nice belay ledge, but definitely no-fall climbing on 5.9 terrain and lots of rope drag.

If you choose to do this:
1). bring a 70m rope, or tell your partner not to fall as they will have to start climbing before you reach the large ledge
2). bring the whole rack. even though most of the protection is bolts, having a wider assortment than I had will help with the questionable gear
3). if belaying on the large ledge on the right side, after the questionable gear and the lone bolt, save a black diamond #3 and some other gear between a BD .75 and #3 for the anchor.

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