The Watchtower Rock Climbing
Photo of Dan D. By Daniel J. :)
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The Watchtower is one of the larger and more easily approached objectives in the front country of Sequoia National Parks west side. A mere 1.7 miles on the gentle Tokopah Valley Trail and a moderate slab/talus scramble will put you at the base of a wall thats nearly 1,000 feet tall.
First climbed in 1970 by Galen Rowell, this formation didnt see another ascent for 10 years. Even today, only 4 routes have been recorded. That being said, there have likely been a few others over the years. Or maybe not
The climbing here has an alpine feel and loose rock and vegetated pitches are not uncommon. Only one of the four known routes goes free, the others all receiving an A3 rating.
The free option is the Timex Route (5.9) which wanders around and finds some good bits of climbing mixed in with bushes and lichen.
Late summer is the best time to rock climb here. Be aware that you need to be able to cross the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River to access this formation. If the water is still raging, a different objective may be in order. On the other hand, if you want it badly enough you could bushwhack up the other side of the river for two miles to the base. Keep an eye out for bears in this area and dont leave food in your vehicle.
Parking for all climbs in Tokopah Valley is in the large lot behind the Lodgepole Visitor Center and Market. From here, walk across the bridge at the east end of the parking lot and take an immediate right on the Tokopah Valley Trail. Follow the trail until you are within a couple hundred feet of the bottom of Tokopah Falls. Start looking for a place to cross the river.
The easiest descent is via the Pear Lake Trail which takes you to the Wolverton area and then on to Lodgepole in an easy three miles.
The Lodgepole parking area is located in Sequoia National park just north of Giant Forest.
From the south (Visalia) follow HW 198 into the park. Form the north (Fresno) follow HW 180 into the park.
Weather station 1.9 miles from here
4 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in The Watchtower
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Watchtower
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Watchtower:
Timex Route 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, 900'
Featured Route For The Watchtower
: Sequoia & Kings Canyon NP
: The Watchtower
Ok, so it isn't on the Watchtower but near -about another 1/2 mile or less at the back of the basin. There is a WI5 on the left often with a freestanding pillar, a WI4 in the center near a dihedral corner, and a WI3 on the right up a couple steps and up inconsistent thin ice, with other variations ranging in difficulty. Walk off west or rappel from trees. Assess avalanche conditions on the slopes above....[more] Browse More Classics in CA
By Guy Keesee
From: Moorpark, CA
Feb 3, 2016
The Climb "All Along The Watchtower" was climbed in 1976 by John Long and crew.
It follows the prominent Right Hand Book to almost the end of the book before traversing off to the right via rivet and bad bolt ladder, a pendulum gets you to the prominent crack and that crack gets you above the big roof system. John and crew escaped to the left at this point and joined Galen's route .... to the summit.
In 1975 I made three attempts to climb this with good experienced wall climbers.
Do not try and climb from the bottom of the book... look around, one can 3rd class to a good ledge just left of the book and haul from here.
The book is solid A4.
IMHO the real climb has not been completed. A crack system descends from the summit to a point about 80 feet from the point where Largo and team went LEFT.
This was my hi point, I didn't want to drill a bolt ladder up to the crack. I showed John some photos and he was up there in a New York Minute.