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Texas Tower
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South Face T 

South Face 

YDS: 5.11+ French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 24 British: E4 6a

   
Type:  Trad, Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11+ French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: Tim Toula & Kathy Zaiser. April 26, 1987 - FFA Bret Ruckman, Tim Coats
Page Views: 4,365
Submitted By: Ben Folsom on May 1, 2004

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Derek Hersey on pitch 2 of South Face, December 19...

Description 

Climbs the obvious crack system on the south face of the tower.

Pitch 1- Climb hands in a corner on the left side of a pillar. Above the pillar climb 5.9 loose to a belay with bolts.

Pitch 2- Climb a 5.9 squeeze slot to a handcrack above then belay at bolts.

Pitch 3- An awkward 10- move leads to a good squeeze chimney. Belay on large ledge with bolt.

Pitch 4- Climb over blocks in chimney then make a stem move and hand traverse right to a good hand crack. Climb the handcrack past a scary loose spot to a good ledge with bolts. 5.10

Pitch 5- Start with 5.10+ fists and into steep offwidth above. This is a long steep pitch with three bolts. Lots of big gear needed.

Pitch 6- Climb a 5.10 offwidth to the top of a pillar and a piton, then 100' of 5.9 chimney to a belay bolt.

Pitch 7- Climb 200 ft of chimney past a fixed piece to a belay at bolts. 5.9

Pitch 8- Make a 5.10 face move then easier climbing leads to the summit.

Descent- Rappel anchors are found on the opposite side of the tower than where you top out. rap fixed anchors to the ground.


Protection 

1 each- #.4 - #1 Camalots; 3 each- #2 - #5 Camalots; 1-2 bigger cams; 2 #4 big bros; 70-meter ropes better but 60's okay.



Photos of South Face Slideshow Add Photo
The summit in February! ARRRRRGH! Photo: J Thesenga
The summit in February! ARRRRRGH! Photo: J Theseng...
Climbing the death block and the end of pitch 4.
Climbing the death block and the end of pitch 4.
Looking down on Pitch 6 from the one bolt belay.
Looking down on Pitch 6 from the one bolt belay.
Climbing pitch 6.  We tried to combine pitches 6-7 with 70 meter ropes and I had to belay from a stance inside the chimney.
Climbing pitch 6. We tried to combine pitches 6-7...
Comments on South Face Add Comment
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By Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
Feb 9, 2005

Derek and I did not free this. We did do an early ascent, in December 1990. There was some fixed bail gear on the route, starting with a SINGLE fixed small Tricam somewhere under the crux pitch. Must have been one scary rappel!

Tim Toula left a register (a 35mm film carton), but it was gone by the time we got up there.

This is the FFA info, as I understand it:

The first free ascent was done next year: Maurice Reed and Chip Wilson. I know Maurice freed it. This would have been some time in 1991. He led the crux pitch. Or else the third ascent was by Bret Ruckman, (and his brother?) who freed it too, in October 1991.

By Ben Folsom
Feb 21, 2005

Sorry about the mis-information. I think both guide books I looked at said that you guys did the FFA.

By Brad White
Oct 5, 2006

I'll add a story that may be relevant to the history of freeing this route, that I heard directly from Bret Ruckman right after he climbed it with Tim Coats. Bret, Tim and Tim's brother Larry were fixtures at Neptune Mountaineering back in the 80s/90s.

Apparently, Bret somehow got one of his rock shoes mixed up with a shoe of the same make, owned by his wife. So when he and Tim arrived at TT, he had one rock shoe that fit his feet, and one that was too small. This did not keep him from freeing the route (Bret was, and probably still is a crack master). He simply wore a rock shoe on one foot, and an approach shoe on the other foot.

Another funny aspect of this climb: at one point Tim (no slouch on desert routes) needed to downclimb one of the chimneys as he was leading, for some reason; apparently quite a distance. Perhaps he climbed past a belay and ran out of rope. Personally, when I downclimb anything, it is usually full of fear and extremely slow. I'm not sure how I would handle downclimbing a runout squeeze chimney, but I'm fairly certain I would be gripped. Not so Tim. Bret related to me that Tim down-*slid* (does such a term even exist) the entire part of the chimney that he needed to reverse. Maybe a dynamic approach to the situation was the best, definitely a fast solution. When Bret told me this he was chuckling at Tim's fearlessness.

I'm pretty sure this was the first free ascent of the Toula route, but don't ask Bret. He is the most modest, unassuming guy anywhere.

By bruce lella
Mar 11, 2008

Perhaps I'm mistaken but I belief that Fred Berman and myself made the second accent of this route in the mid 80's...We did not free all of it. What I remember most was getting our ropes stuck on the descent raps, beware of this. We had only 1 tube chock and 2 #4 friends, as I recall it was real scary! Also remember great cave dwellings in the area.

By A. Frost
Jun 24, 2009

Hats off to all the 80's and early 90's desert aficionados.

This thing is still terrifying, even with modern gear.

As my partner remarked: "It is best not to confuse and aesthetic summit with an aesthetic climb."

By chris Kalous
Feb 22, 2012

Virtually all the fixed gear- anchors to pro- is questionable on this route. With all due respect for their radness, he FA party was less than diligent when it came to drilling angles. Probably a reflection of the times when the idea of future generations repeating stuff like this was an absurd thought.

Anyway, its a tall order to climb this route and take the time to carry and replace hardware, but if a few future ascents beefed an anchor or two, the route would become a hell of a lot safer and at least the belays would give you a respite from the creeping uneasiness/spikes of terror.

Have fun. Climbing, location, and deterioration make this one of the most serious towers out there. Via con dios!

By James Garrett
Feb 22, 2012

In defense of Texas Tower Tim Toula, because I KNOW he does not read any of this MP stuff, most to all of the bolts on Texas Tower were added by other people after him.

By Jeremy Aslaksen
From: Albuquerque, NM
Feb 22, 2012

Well said James.

Jeremy

By chris Kalous
Feb 23, 2012

So I changed "lazy or retarded", which was sarcastic but hardly "brutal", to "less than diligent" in the upper post. Perhaps my lingering fear was clouding my judgement when I wrote "retarded". Will you run the new phrasing by Mr. Toula and see if it upsets him, James? If so, I will soften it a bit more. I met the man years ago myself, nice guy. I'm sure he is glad you are running down slights on the internet for him. Ironic that someone you KNOW doesn't read stuff on the internet (is he Amish now or something?) created something of a print prototype to Mountain Project in his great Rock and Road book.

However, you are wrong about all the anchors and pins being added. Some, probably, but not all. Desert Rock which was printed not long after the FA with info from the FA team describes them. I suspect that a few newer looking bolts are the added gear. Drilled angles are very difficult and a lot of work to place well. You need to drill the hole much deeper than the length of the angle and spend some time coning the front end. Fact is that someone didn't do that great of job with virtually all of them on Texas Tower, but I'm sure the FA team was satisfied with them at the time as they had no need to wonder about their age, etc. and just said "Fuck it, too late now", tied them off and forged on.

Now they are sketchy and some will probably not catch a big fall. Part of that is that they are old, but part of that is that most are sticking out really far. The anchors are probably okay, two or three sketchy tied off pieces can equal an okay anchor, but they look like hell and are scary to contemplate and usually backup is impossible.

None of this is Tim Toula's fault. It's just the way it is.

By James Garrett
Feb 23, 2012

I stand corrected and I abridged and softened my comments as well, they were hardly pointing fingers. Looks like you climbed it in Cerro Torre conditions! Congrats. Rappelling down manky old fixed gear in the dark in the cold of winter is always unnerving.