REI Community
Mendenhall Towers
Select Route:
Balancing Act - West Tower T 
Fogels-Visscher T 
Great White Conqueror T 
Iron Curtian T 
Mountaineer's Route - Main Tower T 
Solva Buttress T 
South Buttress - Main Tower T 

Iron Curtian 

YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 12 pitches, 1200', Grade V
Original:  YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Blake Herrington and Jason Nelson July 2009
New Route: Yes
Season: Summer
Page Views: 2,779
Submitted By: Jason Nelson on Apr 3, 2011  with updates from Laurel Fan

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (1)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]
BETA PHOTO: Topo of The Iron Curtain by Jason Nelson


A fantastic voyage up splitter granite cracks in an amazing setting.
Preferred Approach: Take a helicopter. There's a great landing platform right at the base of the curtain which also makes for a great camp location.
Long Approach: Take the Mendenhall Glacier Trail to an overlook well past the toe of the glacier. From here the trail heads up the mountainside and away from the glacier. Find a weakness in the cliffband and descend loose gully to the ice. The lower glacier is a maze of crevasses. You're the mouse, go find the cheese! Head up glacier and to the climbers right below and partial icefall. The towers will be in view and you'll have to find a way through 200-400' of lower cliff band before reaching the upper glacier that sits below the curtain. Plan on at least 2 days to approach.
The Climb - Begin just right of a gully to the east of the Main Tower. There was lots of natural rockfall activity in the gully while we were there. You can pick out the climb because some of the dihedrals are golden colored.

P1:After negotiating a bergschrund, Splitter cracks for breakfast gain a bowl. Belay on ledge. Easy to locate as this is the most logical way to gain the bowl above. 5.10
P2: Climb up water streak working right to reach a ledge at the base of the steep wall. 5.10
P3: Climb finger crack and pick a ledge to belay on. 5.11a
P4: Climb solid stacked blocks into a dramatic overhanging radiator feature. 5.11
P5: Climb slightly right. When crack ends, make face moves left to a committing mantle. 5.11a R
P6: Continue up cracks and belay below roof with splitter crack. 5.10d
P7: Climb splitter crack through roof (#1 camalot size) into splitter crack above.
P8: Move left into a wide crack. 5.10
P9: Easy rock leads to the ridge of the curtain. 5.7
Main Tower: via splitter cracks on the ridge (4 pitches, 5.11a). Route finding is straightforward.
Fourth Tower: summit via a 100' rappel into a notch and then 3 short pitches of 5.10c with a R section getting out of the notch. If you go this way, you'll want to descend the Southeast face of the fourth tower.
Descent from Main Tower: return the way you came. There are many options for blocks you can leave slings on.


Climbs the left side of the Curtain, a steep wall connecting the Main and Fourth Towers on the South Facing Side.


Double set of cams to #4 Camalot. Maybe a #5 camalot (I forget on this detail) Stoppers, Quickdraws, 2 ropes at least 60M, some cord to leave behind for rappelling.

Photos of Iron Curtian Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Blake Herrington approaching the summit of the Mai...
Blake Herrington approaching the summit of the Mai...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jason Nelson leads the crux roof of the Iron Curta...
Jason Nelson leads the crux roof of the Iron Curta...
Rock Climbing Photo: Blake Herrington on one of the splitter cracks alo...
Blake Herrington on one of the splitter cracks alo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Blake Herrington following the overhanging radiato...
Blake Herrington following the overhanging radiato...

Comments on Iron Curtian Add Comment
Show which comments
By Karsten Duncan
From: Sacramento, CA
Jan 2, 2013

Route description and topo indicate 5.12. Is the 7th pitch the 5.12?
By Jason Nelson
From: SLC, UT
Sep 4, 2013

Yeah, pitch 7 was the crux. Grade might be soft as I have big mitts. Likely 12a at most. Who knows, it was years ago and I never spent much time thinking about it (or caring for that matter). Blake found a different way to go, and maybe you will too. Go have some fun. It's a great route regardless of what number you paste onto it.

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About