Trip Report    

Alpine Sport Climb - Bastille

An exploratory mission to one of the newest and least well known sport climbing sites.

  • Wed, Oct 12, 2022
  • Bastille
  • Climbing
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Snow Lake and Source Lake trails in clear, summer condition.  In this late season, boulder fields were free of snow and required careful attention.  We had an issue on the way out where one member of the party slipped on a downward sloping boulder and into a sharp edged rock below, resulting in a lower leg gash and bleeding.

    The approach/retreat between the saddle of the Great Scott basin and the base of the climb is a steep side hill covered in pine needles.  These make the footing very slick, and there is potential to slide a long way down the mountain.

The first I heard of Bastille was just as a short aside during a Beta and Brews presentation by Jim Nelson on the Ptarmagan Traverse.  It's a group of "about a half dozen" routes, some single pitch, some multipitch created by Jim and others.  They are the same folks who created the Tooth Fairy.

As of our mid October 2022 trip, I was not able to find any other public beta on the area or the specific routes, so this was a mission of discovery. 


Following Jim's advice, we approached via the usual Tooth route, up the Source Lake trail and into the bolder-strewn Great Scott Basin.  It was about 2h10m from the car to the saddle at the top of the basin.  From there we descended down the south aspect maybe 100-200 vertical feet until there was a faint path across a narrow rocky area, and then a somewhat  treacherous side-hilling ascent through the trees to the base of the climb.  We both took slips on the pine needles and unnervingly long slides.  Got to what appeared to be the base at 47.44382,-121.45013. 


 Looking up I could only spot one line of bolts, and there were a LOT of them, continuing upward to a point where I couldn't see the anchor.  This route is the one marked in green.  Not knowing what we were getting into, we roped up and got going.  I'm calling this route "Venti" because it is about 20 clips to get to the anchor.

Bastile_topo.jpgIMG_7895.JPGThe route starts at a right facing dihedral. About 4 bolts up, the top of the dihedral opens up to a nice ledge, and from there I spotted 2 additional lines of bolts to the left.  Continued following the line of bolts upward as they curved to the left. 

We discovered that a 60 m rope is not long enough to do this route from the bottom.  Got to the halfway mark on the rope with about 4 bolts to go, so I put in a bail carabiner and had partner lower me to the ledge at the top of what I call "Block Island".  From there I was able to belay my partner up to where I bailed, and he was able to finish the route to the anchor.  The anchor looked brand new and was 2 chains connected to a ring.

The rock quality was excellent.  Feet stuck to the rock very well.  Finger holds were small, but positive and not generally down sloping.  Despite the steep exposure and seeming lack of holds, taking a deep breath and surveying each move, there was always some nice little flake, or nub, or small ledge or cove to get the toes on.  Bolt spacing was close enough that I never felt all that run out.  Felt 5.8-ish to me.

With a top rope in place, we took a couple of laps, then went over to the left side of Block Island to have a look at the other routes.  Because we were slow, we chose not climb the other routes (indicated in yellow and red lines).

We were going to rappel off the anchor on the red route, but after some exploration, I spotted the anchor in the middle of the yellow route, the route next to the arete.  We scrambled down to that ledge, and our 60 m rope was just long enough to get down off the rock from there.  Didn't really notice any bolts below this anchor, so that's why we didn't see the route when we approached.

I'm told that there are more routes further down towards the south, but our cursory survey in that direction apparently didn't go far enough, so we didn't see them.

A bit more effort to get to, but worth it.  This area could easily turn into a classic as it becomes more widely known.