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South Face 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c R

   
Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, 950'
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c R [details]
FA: Fred Beckey and Dan McHale, November 1969
Page Views: 1,548
Submitted By: Justin Tomlinson on Apr 26, 2013

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the South Face of Hermit Spire

Description 

P1, (160 feet) Start in a corner with a nice, steep 5.8 double crack system to get you to a sloping ledge 15-20 feet up on your right. Walk up the ledge to another corner that goes left, with a chimney above that. Start out face climbing and stemming nice rock with fun moves, then commit higher up to the squeeze chimney, eventually opening to bombay at the top. Prepare to feel stuck, get dirty climbing through ferns, and wish you had a bit more pro. A strenuous pitch. 5.8

P2, (100 feet) You need to feel solid on the first 50 feet, cause you don't get much (a slung horn) for pro. A Big Bro should adequately protect the short crux move on this pitch, though I didn't have one.

Start off the belay with a short 5.7 move to gain easier ground. Possible to sling a horn here. Move up to a ledge and develop a strategy. Ahead of you is a gaping crack, (which would swallow your #5 C4 whole). Face climb right of the crack on secure knobs and in cuts, then through the crux by reaching for a hold on the left side of the crack, then higher right on more solid knobs to your first good pro at a horizontal crack. Easy climbing leads up to a big ledge covered in loose rocks. 5.8R

edit: maybe the crux move on this pitch is closer to 5.7R . Definitely a no fall situation, though.

P3, (120 feet) From here you can see the gem of this route, the HUGE right facing dihedral on beautiful rock. To get there, climb up a low angled slab at the back of the ledge to its top. Traverse left over loose blocky terrain and belay at the base of the dihedral. 5.5

P4 (200 feet) Dihedral up! Great jamming! 5.8

P5 (200 feet) Finish the dihedral, passing a steep 5.8 crux move. Shortly after, the angle eases and run out on easy terrain as far as you can. 5.8

P6 (200 feet) We went up fun 5.6 terrain here to a false summit, had to sling a block and rap back down onto the route. Instead, traverse across the blocky terrain a full rope length toward the saddle. 5.4?

edit: From Richard Shore's posting below, Fred B.'s first accent account, I believe we followed his route up the dogleg. We didn't summit from just below the summit, as the day was turning to night our quick glance at the summit prompted us to rappel down for the easy traverse back to the saddle.

P7 By this point you can go for the summit or the saddle. We traversed to the saddle to finish. 5.6 and 5.10 options to the summit are possible, though I don't know where they are. Once at the saddle, we used the low angle north face to reach the summit. There was at least one good bolt to rap from the summit to the saddle. We put a sling through the bolt(s?). The rap is a full 30 meters.

Location 

From the approach saddle, decend the west gulley to the base of the Hermit. Go through dense forest to an opening. Look up and left to the start of the route. Scramble up to get to the base.

Protection 

First pitch belay anchor was a #4 and #5 C4. (Useful higher up as well.) Doubles from .75 to 3 is highly recommended. I would've used triple #3 and #2 C4's on first pitch if I had them, but made it through without incident.


Photos of South Face Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: On the summit block!
On the summit block!
Rock Climbing Photo: There are a few ways to surmount the summit block:...
BETA PHOTO: There are a few ways to surmount the summit block:...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dow climbing the awesome dihedral.
BETA PHOTO: Dow climbing the awesome dihedral.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the awesome dihedral. The dihedral iis ...
BETA PHOTO: Looking up the awesome dihedral. The dihedral iis ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 2. You can climb it as an offwidth or use fa...
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 2. You can climb it as an offwidth or use fa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dow starting up Pitch 1. The start to the route ca...
BETA PHOTO: Dow starting up Pitch 1. The start to the route ca...
Rock Climbing Photo: Hermit Spire summit block with a January wildfire ...
Hermit Spire summit block with a January wildfire ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Erik Harz leading the P6 dogleg crack to the summi...
Erik Harz leading the P6 dogleg crack to the summi...
Rock Climbing Photo: P5 wideness. Photo: Erik Harz
P5 wideness. Photo: Erik Harz
Rock Climbing Photo: Richard Shore on the beautiful P4 dihedral. Photo:...
Richard Shore on the beautiful P4 dihedral. Photo:...
Rock Climbing Photo: Erik Harz leading the runout P2
Erik Harz leading the runout P2
Rock Climbing Photo: Richard Shore starting up P1. Photo: Erik Harz
Richard Shore starting up P1. Photo: Erik Harz

Comments on South Face Add Comment
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By Justin Tomlinson
From: Monrovia, CA
Aug 15, 2013

For those consulting the old Vernon guide, I should point out that he lists the start of this route as the Charley Knapp Route. If you look closely at the three or so references (photos, maps, descriptions) to this and Charley Knapp Route you will find some conflicting data.
By Fat Dad
From: Los Angeles, CA
Nov 15, 2013

Thanks for adding this. A great route and one of the more moderate climbs in the Needles vicinity.
By Richard Shore
Jan 20, 2014

Excellent route, IMO one of the best moderate adventure multipitch routes in the Needles vicinity, second only to the South Face of the Warlock. Why? Obscure and uncrowded, no fixed convenience belays/rap stations, excellent rock quality, climbing, and aesthetics. Fred had a good eye for routes, to be sure. The fourth pitch dihedral with knobs, horns, scoops and buckets ranks among the best moderate pitches I've ever climbed. Much much better than the popular Magic Dragon 5.8 on the Magician. Justin's description above is spot-on.

Did it mid-winter and hiked in from Hwy 190, ~16 miles round trip. C2C in 9:15.
By Richard Shore
May 6, 2014

From the AAJ -

Hermit Spire, South Face. An interesting edifice of nature highlights the rolling subalpine hills west of the Little Kern River, closely north of Lloyd Meadows (several miles north of The Needles). Its base is shaped like a typical Sierra dome, but about 600 feet higher its walls slenderize to form a crest-like spire. Dan McHale and I spent Nov. 29 and 30, 1969 climbing the south face, which had to be reached by some cross-country effort. The climbing was spectacular but with a rough (unglaciated) surface of minute horns, hollows, knobs, and spikes. We began up a chimney and jam-crack system that brought some early strenuous moves to the climb. After three pitches and some awkward moments, the route eased through some zigzag ledges to the base of the face’s principal feature: a great dihedral system that carried up to a platform just east of the thin summit crown. First there was delightful face climbing to its right, then a full pitch–mostly a dog-leg crack–hanging onto the dihedral. A pitch of semi-overhanging bonging provided some workmanlike aid maneuvers.

From the platform a smooth face on the left (very small holds) went to the crest of the south arête. In a biting wind and approaching darkness we climbed an awkward aid route on the frontal-right corner of the summit tower. There was no sign of an earlier visit, and the rappel down the “back” led us to believe Hermit had not been climbed before our visit. NCCS IV, F8, A3.

Fred Beckey

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