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The best rock climb in the world? Most routes to which this moniker is added may seem insignificant compared to the SE Face of Lotus Flower Tower. The route climbs perfect alpine granite for 18 pitches to an amazing summit.
The climb is all about uniformity. The first three pitches climb a well-defined left facing corner. The next five or six pitches climb a long chimney. Then, the fun starts. After a short left facing corner, the last ten pitches or so climb cracks and knobs on the exposed and narrowing face.
Pitch 1: Climb a left-facing corner to a fixed belay. 5.8
Pitch 2: Continue up this corner to a fixed belay 5.9
Pitch 3: Follow the corner until it's end and exit right, skirting below a large roof. This pitch is often wet, but when dry, the exit moves feel about 5.10a.
Pitch 4: Since you are on the face now, wander up the face to the base of a long chimney. 5.7
Pitches 5-9: Climb up the 5.7 chimney. The chimney is long but secure. It's possible and advisable to simul-climb this section, especially if you're doing the route in a day.
Pitch 10: Wander up and right to a large ledge. This ledge is big enough to park a school bus on, well, probably a short bus. 5.8 This ledge is an excelent bivy, as it's totally flat.
Pitch 11: Climb a big left facing corner, 5.9+, to an amazing small ledge at the very edge of the face.
Pitches 12-15: Follow parallel cracks up the face of the tower. Though you protect in the cracks, the preponderance of strange diorite knobs encourages face climbing. There are many ways to ascend this section. Just follow knobs to the base of an unmistakable roof. 5.9
Pitch 16: Climb past the obvious three-foot roof. This move is easily aided, making the route 5.10 C1. Otherwise, expect a 5.11- pull past the route. This move is much more difficult than any other move on the route. It is possible to traverse right and climb a splitter hand crack through the roof, but this may present its own set of problems. Sustained 5.9 cracks lead up to the belay.
Pitches 17 and 18: Gradually widening cracks lead to the summit. The last pitch contains some 5.8 offwidth climbing, but it's really not too bad.
Descent: Rap the route. The upper part of the route has fixed belay stations, so rapping is straightforward (just be careful about snagging your rope on the knobs). Once you reach the ledge, the rap route diverges from the climbing route and heads down the face. There is a serious epic potential here as the stations are tough to find on the big face. Stay out of the chimney at all costs. I know. If you end up rapping back into the chimney, you're in for a long and slow descent as your rope gets hung up on every possible feature.
George Bell's website has a great topo and tips for climbing this route in a day: www.geocities.com/gibell.geo/cirque/
Standard rack, heavy on the stoppers for the upper pitches. Two 60 meter ropes.
Not a great photo, but the knobs are clearly evide...
Savoring the stellar headwall.
the foreshortened Southeast Face from the base of ...
more headwall: an Italian group of three tackling...
Headwall above P-10
|Comments on Southeast Face
|By Brad G|
From: Yosemite and else where
Dec 2, 2007
I want to do this climb soooo bad. If only it were closer to home
|By Deaun Schovajsa|
Dec 5, 2007
This is one of the coolest routes I've ever done. The knob climbing on the middle pitches was the closest I've ever come to gym style climbing in the alpine realm. You plug gear into the thin seams and pull and stand on these super cool chicken heads. Camping in Fairy Meadows is awesome, but the area is very sensitive - please tread lightly.
|By George Bell|
From: Boulder, CO
Dec 12, 2007
The video above is excellent. It is great to see such elite climbers having a blast on this route. I was expecting to hear Caldwell or Rodden complaining about how easy the climbing was, but there is none of this. There is a great sequence of Beth climbing in a snowstorm near the end.
Jul 19, 2008
@ Brad; Me too. I'm have a loooong distance to The Cirques. I think I'll go there in 2009 or 2010
|By Steve Levin|
From: Boulder, CO
Dec 30, 2012
FFA Mark Robinson, Sandy Stewart, Steve Levin, August 1977.