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This is likely the easiest way to summit the Lesser Spire. Ingraham calls it 4th class, but he does mention roped vs. unroped climbing, so his definition of 4th likely includes roped climbing. Approach by either east (via Rabbit Ears Canyon), or west (west described herein). From the Topp Hut, hike the road towards the mine, but turn right on an old mining road before the mine proper (this is the approach to Southern Comfort Wall). At the end of the road, follow the climbers trail to Southern Comfort. Follow the climbers trail all the way around to the routes in the middle of the wall, then follow a faint trail leading right and descend a break through the lower wall into the gully. Consistent with Organ Mountain approaches, your 'trail' now consists of finding the path of least resistance. You want to aim for the col just north of the Lesser Spire by ascending a maze of minor gullies. The area is relatively lightly vegetated (by Organ Mt. standards), but there are some thick sections and there is some loose rock to watch for. Once at the saddle, you are afforded with a great view of the Rabbit Ears to the east, and a rare vantage point of the chutes (incl. Boyer's Chute) on the west side of North Rabbit Ear. Belay from the saddle, or better yet to avoid rope drag and some brush, scramble up and a little left to a nice belay stance in some brush. Climb out left, then turn up towards the left edge of a largish roof (low 5th), and set a belay once past the roof. Scramble right then left to a large ledge. From this expansive ledge, you can go way left (where the ledge ends) make an easy but exposed move and turn right, or go up over the headwall directly (right over some flakes, hand traverse left to a vertical crack, and up. Set another belay amongst some large boulders. From here, scramble to the summit.
Note: I originally posted this route as Easy 5th, but have been convinced that the rating may be soft, so I upped it to 5.4 (isn't 5.4 low 5th?), but I digress...
From the small col north of Lesser Spire, the route climbs the NE ridge. You can reach the col from the east (Rabbit Ears Canyon) or west (ascend a gully from below the Southern Comfort Wall). Three raps get you back down to the col.
Light rack. No fixed anchors. There are old rap slings for descent.
The first pitch of roped climbing, aiming to bypas...
Moonrise over Lesser Spire (center) and ORP (right...
|By Aaron Hobson|
From: Las Cruces, NM
Jan 23, 2011
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV VD 3c
Staying right of the lichen roof on the first pitch is also good, and there is an old rusty piton below a "crux" move.
| || |rusty piton on first pitch variation
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Jan 23, 2011
For the second pitch, staying far left is a good way to scramble and is more of a 4th class move, although with plenty of exposure.
|By Marta Reece|
From: Las Cruces, NM
Nov 18, 2013
rating: 5.4 4a 12 IV VD 3c
Approach: From the bottom of Southern Comfort follow the trail slanting to the right and step over the edge into the canyon long before the middle of Southern Comfort. Go under the bottom wall, sticking to the rock as closely as practical. There is a bit of a trail there. Eventually you run out of cliff and there are some trees there. The trail runs down at this point.
Cross the gully and scramble up the other side, then traverse left toward the rocks. Stay on the slabby apron, just below the steeper part. Eventually the rock will become a trough. Follow that. Once past it, cross the gully to your left and take the ridge on the other side. Stay to the left side of the ridge until it runs out. Continue up the gully to the saddle. Once Lesser Spire is making up the right side of the gully, staying close to the rock on the right works well.
Pitch 1: Best to belay from a ledge up and left of the saddle. Climb along the left edge of the slab below the roof in the picture. Once past the roof, look for a rap station on a small tree, which can be used as an anchor point. Most of the pitch is in low fifth range, but there is one move that's more 5.4 or so.
Coil rope and scramble, first to the right continuing in the same groove you have climbed in. Once a way opens upward, take it. Head for the left side of a short buttress sticking up prominently on the right. Go up the corner left of it and up and left to a large ledge below a head wall.
The head wall can be climbed (about 5.8). Go up the sickle-shaped crack on the right of the big grassy ledge to a horizontal crack. Traverse left for quite a bit to a short, vertical crack in the top part of the wall, and go up it.
The Normal Route turns the head wall on the left. Walk along the bottom of the wall toward a bush. Squeeze through between the bush and the wall. Continue left to a large boulder separated from the wall by an off-width. Climb the boulder left of this crack. From the top of the boulder, step over to the grassy ramp. Follow the ramp to a rap station. Most of the climbing is not hard, but it's not trivial either. Not what you'd expect from "easy fifth." The start of the ramp in particular presents some challenges, as there are no real handholds once on it. It's still quite steep, but your hands are on hardly anything other than dirt. It's not hard, by most climbers standards, but you should be at least a 5.6 leader to feel comfortable on this. The pro you have will not keep you from hitting the boulder.
To scramble to the top, follow the ramp, step up as you do this, and then take to the slab on the left with a crack in it. Scramble up to the top from there.
This last scramble needs to be done in reverse, or you need to set up your own rap station. There are three raps back down to the saddle below Lesser Spire. A tree at the bottom of the large ledge is the only rap station not mentioned so far. You should be able to see the slings of the rap stations below as you go down.
Deproach: The best way down is to drop into Rabbit Ears Canyon. This is a nasty bushwhack (or I don't have it worked out yet), but once in the canyon, the way down is much easier, can even be done in the dark without too much of a problem.
All in all, the Normal Route up Lesser Spire is still a remarkably easy route up a seriously impressive peak. Definitely worth it.