Upper East Face
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The Upper East Face is a variation of the Northeast Ledges route. This route deserves Grade III because of the approach, descent, and route finding.
Pitches 1 and 2: Follow the directions from the Northeast Ledges route. Summarizing: climb 5.6 through blocky terrain up the prominent exposed ridge. The ridge levels out here and walking without a rope is not a problem. Rough total of 250 feet.
At this huge ledge, walk around the left of the Needle approximately 120 feet. You will then be on a ledge 20 feet wide and standing below a very nice wall. This is the Upper East Wall. We'll call this belay stance 'Courtney's Ledge'; it's very comfortable offering great views.
Look up and find a huge flake at the top of the wall. Some people may call it a short chimney or tight corner, whatever! I saw it and wanted to climb it.
Pitch 3: Climb the cracks that lead up underneath this huge flake (5.9?). I recommend setting a belay before the flake in secure but dubious looking rock (53 meters). This is a nice pitch but not superb. From this belay, if the flake above you is overwhelming, an escape out to the right could be made. The escape would be easier climbing but probably more exposed.
Pitch 4: Go for the flake!! First thing, step up and left onto the slab. Stay in the corner through a tough mantel (5.10-) bypassing the lower hollow flake until you reach a stance. Then get inside the flake and worm your way up. Continue up on easier terrain until you reach another ledge (50 meters), which will put you back on the Northeast Ledges route.
At this point the Northeast Ledges route wraps far around to the right.
Pitch 5: Choose any of the various 5.6 through 5.9 pitches to the summit. The further you traverse to the right, the easier the climbing.
The previous parties mentioned carrying boats down the Pioneer Point Trail. This is unnecessary. If your team is average at swimming, grab a couple of backpack dry bags and use them as flotation. The swim is about 100 meters?? in cold water. Rock On!
Note: The Upper East Wall has some burly stuff on it. The further around to the left you walk on Courtney's Ledge, the more difficult it will become.
Descent: from the summit, scramble down the ridge about 20 meters and find some shiny bolts on the back side. You will need two 60 meter ropes and have about 3 rappels to the gully. Walk/scramble back around to the base of the climb and your dry bags. Then jsut when you thought it was over...another 100 meter swim and a 2 mile hike out!! Adventure!!
Our intention was to climb the Northeast Ledges route, but we found the lower bits quite mellow. We chose instead to explore around the East side. The rack needed for this climb is identical to the Northeast Ledges route.
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