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BETA PHOTO: Milktoast Chimney
The Milktoast Chimney and Red Baron Tower are actually located at the base of Peak 3986m, however they share a similar location and logistics as the routes on the South Face of Lone Pine Peak. The Red Baron Tower will come into view as you make your way up the Tuttle Creek Drainage. It is the obvious red tower with an even more obvious right facing corner. Note that the Moynier/Fiddler guidebook has a photo for the Milktoast Chimney showing it on the larger, chossier, (and not red) tower to the right of Red Baron Tower. The route they mark is actually more or less the Zig-Zag Dihedral, a Grade IV 5.9, and the Milktoast Chimney is hidden behind this formation.
The rock on Red Baron Tower is good quality and face climbing friendly which makes the route improbably steep for an alpine 5.8. You will probably be doing a little extra face climbing if you go in the early season since the chimney system will be blocked by chunks of ice in some locations. The climb's two biggest shortcomings are it's length relative to it's burly approach, and it's rather forgettable "summit" which is really just a ledge halfway up the wall.
Most parties will want to rope up for a 5.0 approach pitch to access the ledge below the chimney. From here 5 pitches of sustained 5.6-5.8 climbing will lead to a large sandy slope. Be careful setting up a belay here so you don't send any scree flying down at your belayer. From the top of this loose slope, 2-3 more pitches of mostly 4th class gully climbing leads to the top of the climb. In general, the route finding is very straight forward. Either chimney and jam up the corner, or face climb to the right of the corner - whichever looks easier at the moment.
I thought there were 3 cruxes on the climb:
The first is a section of corner climbing past an annoying bush at the end of the second pitch.
The second is a burly and awkward move around a large chockstone in the chimney at the top of the 5th pitch (just before reaching the sandy slope).
The final crux is at the end of the last pitch where a chockstone/roof blocks the gully and you must face climb a steep and intimidating wall to the right.
From the town of Lone Pine, drive west on Whitney Portal Rd. Turn left on Horseshoe Meadows Rd and follow it past the Tuttle Creek Campground. Turn right on Granite View Dr and follow it for a couple miles. You will encounter some private property signs warning against trespassing, hang a right onto a less traveled dirt road and follow this for a couple more miles. There is a small parking area for passenger cars just before a steep grade. If you have 4wd (and high clearance is good too) you can continue up the steep sandy hill to a large parking area about a mile further. This is where the Stone House trailhead begins
Follow a well maintained trail to the Stone House. Walk around to the back of the house and pick up a climbers trail. Do your best to stay on the trail as you traverse the south slope of the canyon, staying well above the creek. You will hike the full length of Lone Pine Peak's south face. Eventually you will encounter a large expanse of giant boulders and manzanita which choke the canyon. Navigating through the boulders and bushes will prove to be the crux of the approach. After this you must cross the creek, which isn't too difficult, and then hike up to a nice flat camping area. Allow 5 hours for the approach if it is your first time.
From the camp site, relatively painless 45 minutes of cross country travel and talus scrambling will lead to the base of the Red Baron Tower.
To descend, scramble off left (west), following gullies and ledges back down to the talus. It will be obvious very quickly if you take a wrong turn. The descent is 3rd class and you should never be very exposed. The cruxes are a couple 10 ft downclimbs on solid rock.
A set of stoppers and a single set of cams from thin to 4.5"
By Bryan G
From: San Jose
Jun 29, 2011
To avoid confusion I should mention that the creek that runs down the canyon below the South Face of LPP is actually not Tuttle Creek, although it does join Tuttle Creek a point just past Stone House Buttress. I don't know what this creek is called, and probably referred to it as Tuttle Creek in the route description.
From: Atascadero, CA
Jun 30, 2011
Bryan - nice beta photo. I'm fairly sure the creek that runs down that whole drainage beneath the south face of LPP is the "North Fork of Tuttle Creek." The south fork is the one that runs in the next drainage (south) near Mt. Langley.