|South Early Winters Spire
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).
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|
Aug 14, 2013
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ E3 5c
In line with the Supertopo ratings, I found pitch 4 to be the crux rather than pitch 6. While pitch 6 is steeper and more powerful, the 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 found on easier ground and are usually followed by new hardware.
Great route overall, despite the so-so rock quality down low. The moderate climbing at the start and finish make this a big route that climbs quickly.