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East Face T 
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East Face 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 800', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Steve Marts and Don McPherson
Season: June-September
Page Views: 8,609
Submitted By: sqwirll on Jul 7, 2009

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (43)
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Hannah Kepner exiting chimney


Multiple belay options are available and linking of some pitches are possible, but here's the general break down.

Pitch 1 - Climb up a crack system and traverse left into slopey climbing with difficult protection. Belay where convenient.

Pitch 2 - Continue up and slightly right to the base of the obvious left facing corner. Belay from a small tree.

Pitch 3 - Climb the left facing corner to a nice ledge with a tree belay.

Pitch 4 - Climb up and left through cracks ranging from hands to fingers and belaying at a stance below the roof with a deadend chimney. This is not the chimney you'll be climbing.

Pitch 5 - Once at the deadend chimney, traverse right on a small ledge with no hands for 30'(exposed). At the end of the traverse, pull a difficult lieback (one could jam this) and continue up the hand and finger crack. Crux

Pitch 6 - Climb the offwidth above, clipping the a jambed 2x4 for pro and passing two bolts to an alcove above.

Pitch 7 - Continue up the short chimney, which leads to blockier terrain and another offwidth.

Pitches 8-10 - Easier ground leads up and left to a tree belay. Continue up to the top of the formation. A 4th class traverse pitch across a catwalk takes you to the unroping notch.


Park at the pond (south side of highway) that is located approximately 1.2 miles east of the pass. Hike up the trail for 30-45 minutes to the base. There are a couple of options depending on the condition of the snowfield at the base. Option 1 is to go up gully to the left of the east face and get on the rock. Option 2 is get on the rock from the right hand side.

Descent - from the notch below the summit (you don't actually go to the summit), head west and take the gully to the skiers left. There are rap slings down there, but it's 20' of 3rd class, so it's not worth the effort. Once down the gully continue to traverse right(north)until you hit the cattle trail that goes up to Liberty Bell, which will take you to the Blue Lake trail. Once you're able to see the highway and the trail turns left, locate a faint climbers trail that will take you straight to the highway (probably saves a mile or so of hiking). Hike the road back to your car. Alternatively, one could hitchhike or do a shuttle to save on the walk.


Standard rack with gear to 6". We brought and used a #4 quite a bit as well. You could probably get by with out the 6" cam if you feel solid in the wide stuff. It was much easier than I had expected, especially with 2 new bolts.

Photos of East Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: East Face.
East Face.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at the 2x4 in the offwidth.
Looking down at the 2x4 in the offwidth.
Rock Climbing Photo: East Face.
East Face.
Rock Climbing Photo: Exiting the belay chimney to the traverse and crux...
Exiting the belay chimney to the traverse and crux...
Rock Climbing Photo: Erica Engle at the end of the traverse of the &quo...
BETA PHOTO: Erica Engle at the end of the traverse of the &quo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Erica Engle getting ready to step right onto a hid...
BETA PHOTO: Erica Engle getting ready to step right onto a hid...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking out towards Silverstar and the Wine Spires...
Looking out towards Silverstar and the Wine Spires...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing pitch 4.
Climbing pitch 4.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing the left facing corner on pitch 3.  The p...
Climbing the left facing corner on pitch 3. The p...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up pitch 1 of the route. Just above the cl...
Looking up pitch 1 of the route. Just above the cl...

Comments on East Face Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 11, 2017
By sqwirll
From: Las Vegas
Jul 7, 2009

The rock quality on the upper couple of pitches isn't nearly as good (grainy), but it certainly doesn't detract from the rest of the route.

Also, a huge avalanche wiped out a section of trail up there on the Blue Lake side, but enough people have been making there way through that it should be fairly obvious.
By Bryan G
From: Yosemite
Aug 1, 2013

This climb is longer than the 800ft the Supertopo gives it. I wouldn't recommend a #6. The "crux OW" is sport bolted, easy, and has lots of face holds so you don't even need to get in it.

We rappelled the route with two 60m ropes which allowed us to bring ice axes for the snow slope at the base without having to carry them up the climb. But late in the season when the base is melted out it's probably better to go up and over.
By Rafe
Aug 10, 2014
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

The moats were kind of gnarly in approach shoes and we were forced to do a variation off to the far right of the first ledge to start the route.

The "9+" offwidth didn't strike me as the crux of the route. If there was one bit of climbing that I thought was hard and funky and runout it was the 6" offwidth that gets 8+ in the new guidebook after the "crux" pitch. If I'd had a #6 I would have placed it I think. #6 isn't terribly necessary, but if someone had one, and they asked my opinion I'd say bring it.

Really nice route though.
By Erroneous Publicus
Jul 6, 2015

This is a great route, but definitely spicy. The second pitch, is especially heady. Never really difficult, but requires commitment well above small gear. I'd recommend bringing the #6 too. The off width is not that fierce, but it is really runnout without the big cam. The guide book recommended descent is really loose. You can avoid it by following the beta for the Liberty Traverse: Scramble toward NEWS on the ridge, aiming for the little tree covered knoll between the spires. There's a rap station on a tree at the far side of the knoll. From the bottom of that rap, scramble toward NEWS and pick up the main descent trail there.
By Dirk Rogstad
Sep 14, 2015

Awesome route!

Did this route on 9/12/15 and found the left side gully to be completely snow free and full of rotten rock. Would not recommend. Instead, scramble up the slabs on the far right. Then climb up left through a corner to gain a ledge with some small trees on it, continue to climb up and left until meeting back up with the original route (midway through pitch 1?). Much safer and probably about the same speed, imho.
By Mike A. Lewis
From: Estes Park, CO
Sep 28, 2015

This route is worthwhile if you are in the area, but nothing to travel for, in my opinion. I gave it 2 stars. I'm not a hardened, jaded, old climber dude who likes to down-rate things, etc. But, compared to other popular national alpine rock climbing areas such as RMNP, the Hulk, Mt. Evans, The Winds, Tetons, etc., I found the climbing on the East Face to be of moderate to low quality. The rock was grainier than I expected with a 4.5 star rating on MP and 5 stars in Ian's book. The OW sections were short-lived, and much easier than the grade, and the overall climbing was less than classic, in my opinion, minus a few sections of nice climbing here and there. The position and the feature itself is obviously awesome - so, that makes it a "good" route in my mind.
By Mike A. Lewis
From: Estes Park, CO
Sep 28, 2015

The OW pitches. These are nothing to worry about. From the details given, and the abundant use of the word "burly," I expected a long, continuous, vertical section of sustained offwidthing. The OW on Pitch 6 in Ian's book, was a a 20' section of overhanging OW in a dihedral. This is where the wood block is (which was loose and floating - I didn't use it). Using basic 5.7+ chimney and stemming techniques gets you to a bolt. The #6 Camelot fits perfectly and makes you feel comfy. Without it, you are a little exposed above your belay, and maybe you clipped the wood block, but the climbing is really not very hard, unless you have absolutely no chimneying/stemming experience. Then with another bolt clipped and using some 5.8 face climbing technique, layback or stem around short OW bulge, and you are done. For the Pitch 7 OW, just grovel your way up some low angle rock, using your feet well on the sticky granite - this pitch would be 5.7 or maybe 5.8 in Yosemite or Lumpy Ridge.
By Mike A. Lewis
From: Estes Park, CO
Sep 28, 2015

Descent. From the col between the top of the E Face route and the summit block, look SW and you will see the "Island in the Sky" bivy ledge. It is an obvious flat ledge with some small trees - looks like a very cool place to camp. Traverse some 3rd class gullies to get over toward this bivy, and before getting up onto the bivy platform, take the 2nd class gully down to the right (W). OR, if there is snow/ice, you can get up on the bivy ledge and look for rap slings off the SW side of the ledge. Short rap into 2nd class or snow terrain. Enjoy.
By Rafe
Oct 25, 2015
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Mike Lewis. I'm curious why you would rate Blues Buttress at 3 stars and East face of Lexington at 2. By any measure I am familiar with, Lexington is by far a superior route. In what ways did you think Blues Buttress was a better route?

If your traveling through WA on a climbing trip there probably aren't many people who would suggest the East Face of Lex as a "must do" route. But using the rest of the climbing at WA pass as a gauge, it's pretty darn good. Not much at WA pass is world class. I'd say you probably picked the wrong climbs if you were looking for rivals to national classics. Next time, if you are on HWY 20, go crag at Newhalem instead of Fun Rock and then climb something on the East Face of Liberty Bell.
By Drewsky
Jul 6, 2016

This is a nice route that's a bit adventurous for the moderate grade. It's a bit grainier and a bit more 'blue collar' than some of the other routes at the pass, for instance routes on the east face of Liberty Bell or, say, the west face of South Early Winters Spire. On the first pitch, I failed to traverse left at the proper time and ended up on some difficult, loose and fairly runout climbing. I managed to join the 'correct' ending to the pitch later on. This pitch has the potential to be dangerous if done incorrectly but perhaps this mistake is easy to avoid.
By Billy Barghahn
From: Seattle, WA
Sep 27, 2016

Very fun varied climbing!

The first rappel anchor for the descent (at top of Tooth and Claw) is no longer a tree. The tree is dying and any slings were removed by a previous party. The anchor is now a horn that is slung with cordelette and stopper, located a few feet back from the ledge near the former tree anchor. Bring some extra webbing/cord as there is currently only a single cordelette. Rappel is straightforward once you locate the anchor.
By Drewsky
Jul 11, 2017

There are no longer tree or slung horn/chock anchors present at the top of the East Shoulder. If rappelling, one can scramble down part of the final pitch of Tooth and Claw (4th class or very easy 5th) to a bolted anchor and rappel from there with two ropes. T & C tops out about 20ft to the climbers right from the East Face route. I'm not certain if one can rappel from this anchor to the next bolted anchor with two 60m ropes; if not, there is an intermediate nut and sling anchor in place that can be used. Two 70m ropes will certainly allow one to skip the nut/sling anchor. After that, the rappels down T & C are relatively straightforward:

Bolted anchor, top of P5
Bolted anchor, top of P4
Tree Anchor, top of P3
Bolted Anchor, top of P2
Bolted Anchor, top of P1
Tree from lower access ledge to snow/talus

Don't start your rappels from trees further to climbers left; there may be (green) webbing present but the rappels are from less than ideal stances and tree anchors and are best avoided.
By kevinoh Holte
Aug 26, 2017

1. Definitely worth doing
2. Whatever you do, don't bring a #6 (We used a 5 a few times but you could definitely get away without it)
3. Guidebook is misleading, the 2 bolts protect the wide crack way lower than the topo makes it look like. I clipped the first bolt before I was pulling through the crux. The guidebook really hypes up the difficulty on this one. 5.8 with a few short wide bits. This would be 5.7 at Index....
By Jplotz
From: Wenatchee, WA
Sep 11, 2017

I really enjoyed this route, in a blue collar sort of way. Heady but safe offwidth climbing. The bolts take the sting out of the crux. And that stance before the foot traverse is wildly exposed! Being in the cold, dark shade all day adds to this climb!
But don't misled by previous comments about it being soft (5.7 Index, blah, blah. Yes, we get it. Everything's sooo much harder at Index). If you're a 5.8, or even 5.9 onsight leader thinking that this is below your onsight limit, then you may be rudely awakened.

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