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South Early Winters Spire
Select Route:
Boving Roofs T 
Direct East Buttress T 
Hitchhiker, The T 
Northwest Face T 
Passenger, The T 
South Arete T 
Southern Man T 
Southwest Couloir 
SW Rib T 

South Arete 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a [details]
FA: Fred Beckey
Season: Summer
Page Views: 6,288
Submitted By: Tits McGee on Mar 17, 2009

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (42)
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Ridge Traverse


Photos of South Arete Slideshow Add Photo
Looking down at the hairpin turn from the traverse...
Looking down at the hairpin turn from the traverse...
General view of the route, following the ridge tha...
General view of the route, following the ridge tha...
Early Winter Spires. South Arete goes up the left ...
BETA PHOTO: Early Winter Spires. South Arete goes up the left ...
The best way to cross the fin (which is the best p...
BETA PHOTO: The best way to cross the fin (which is the best p...
nearing the summit of SEWS
nearing the summit of SEWS
Looking down the chimney/gulley at the start.
BETA PHOTO: Looking down the chimney/gulley at the start.
The start of  the S Arete route,
BETA PHOTO: The start of the S Arete route,
Unknown mountaineer on summit.
Unknown mountaineer on summit.

Comments on South Arete Add Comment
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By sqwirll
From: Las Vegas
Jul 7, 2009

This is the standard descent route off the peak. Most of this route is 3rd class with a couple steps of 5th. A good beginner climb.

Descend the route by rappeling approximately 3 times with a 60 m.
By Nick Sweeney
From: Spokane, WA
Jul 5, 2015

The climbing is nothing special on this route but it is worth doing in my opinion. Great views and exposure. The mantle move on the first pitch is really the only move you have to think about, after that it is just plain easy fun!
By quillaja
2 days ago
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a

I was expecting more since it's described in "Selected Climbs", but this route disappointed. I didn't want to solo or simul, but that's essentially what 75% of the route entails unless you're looking for a slow and frustrating time pitching it all out. Avoid weekend afternoons or you'll be dodging all the good climbers coming down from the harder routes on SEWS.

My suggested approach:
P1- From the pretty obvious start, go up trending left towards the gully. You'll see a bolted anchor with chains. You could belay here (if you're all alone on SEWS and won't interfere with people rapping). An alternative is to go slightly (10-15 ft at the most) farther up and to the right, and belay using a solid tree and a comfy ledge. When belaying the leader on P2, you can extend the anchor a bit and get in a good position to see up the gully.

P2- Go up the gully and climb around the chockstone using mostly the left side of the chimney. Above the chockstone you'll see a tree with slings for rapping. I think the best thing to do would be to continue left into a V-notch (if I remember correctly) and keep going until you're out of rope or you end on a pretty obvious large area of sandy 3rd class ledges (basically the part when you think to yourself "Ok... when does the climbing start again?"). Find a tree or build an anchor to belay.

At this point, backpack your rope and carry it up to the summit or leave it there for the descent raps.

Keep going up on this sandy 3rd class part, then find a good spot on your right to do some 4th/easy 5th moves up to the higher part of the top of the arete. Keep walking up and the whale/camel/sharkfin/whatever will finally come into view.

You can belay this crossing easily if you want, as there are good spots on both sides to build anchors, and even spots for pro before and after the fin (which has a bolt on the side towards the SW Couloir, as of 7/2015). I slung a tree located atop a little ramp. There is also a diagonal crack in this ramp that'll take med-large cams (I think I used BD 1 and 2?). This tree and crack can be seen above the climber in the picture of the fin. Before the fin, I found a spot for a BD 0.4. After the fin, there's a crack low which I put a BD 1 and extended. Scramble up the other side and lasso a tree.

After that, I went rightward through some trees, across a little patch of exposure, then up and left to the crossing above the SW Couloir. You could probably hop across the tops of the boulders, but going on the left side of the boulders and "into" the couloir provided less exposed and easy climbing over to the actual summit.

Reverse all this until you return to the sandy ledges area, then find a tree with rap slings. It's sorta tricky getting to the tree. From there, 3 raps with 1 60m rope. It'll be 2 trees, one at the sandy ledges and one just above the chimney/gully, and the bolted anchor. The chimney/gully rap probably won't reach the chains, but it's a fine spot to just walk the few feet over to the chains. I can't recommend attempting longer raps because there are a number of trees around that are perfectly designed to snag your ropes.
By Mike Zasadzien
12 hours ago

Just like previous comments, fairly easy 3rd/4th class with a few 5th class moves that make you want to rope up for quick jaunts. Descent exposure, and the chimney is actually quite fun without a backpack. The trouble is chaining the cruxes together, as the rope drag would be horrendous and would take too much time. So there's a bit of putting things away, and bringing it back out, or just solo'ing some easy crux bits. The only trouble is that you have to downclimb those same bits later on if you decide to descend the way you came...

The way we comfortably ran it was to pitch the first up to the bolted anchor visible from the ground, we stopped there since it's a hard right up the field after.[70 feet]

Second from there got us past the chimney problem, but to properly protect it, you create some insane rope drag, so stopped right above it at the rap tree. [100 feet, slightly longer than a rap from the tree with a 60m rope could handle]

We ran a third pitch from there just for a couple of 5th class moves past the tree and onto the sandy bit with a gear anchor.[60 feet]

Then we solo'd a couple 5th class moves into the 4th class boulders to the shark fin.

We protected the sharkfin[which has a bolt on the backside facing the couloir right before you smear], but in hindsight we probably could have skipped roping up. It looks a lot more intimidating than it actually was.

Climbed up the top of the ridge, scrambled acround and up to the top.

Since we were physically and mentally tired and from an earlier climb that day, we opted NOT to downclimb all the previous quick 5th class moves[theres no rap stations for the 3rd pitch and higher] and we rapped down the chain of rap tats in the couloir. This method is also used to prevent running into other teams heading up on a busy weekend. The following was done with NO snow in the couloir:

Downclimb the scree on skiiers right to the 3rd or 4th tree pile with rap tat. The last available one will get you to the next tat on the skiier's right side past the lip with a 60m rope, any earlier will make you walk on some super-loose scree to get to it.

We rapped that to the huge x-formation tat to skier's left that utilizes a ton of pitons, had to come off the rope and traverse over about 15 feet. Then rapped down into the gully below.

Backpack the rope and downclimb a bit[few 100 feet] trending to the right until you get cliffed out. No worries, there's one last tree with more tat on it there to rap back to the ground.
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