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Trip Report    

Basic Alpine Climb - South Early Winter Spire/South Arête

Successful early-season climb of SEWS with ten climbers. Good snow cover on approach. Climbing route is in.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Trailhead lot still has about one foot of snow but will melt out soon.  Plenty of parking at side of road.  Good snow cover for entire approach although a lot of  running water could be heard or observed under the snow later in the day.  The area at the base of the climb is snow-free as are all three pitches of climbing; a very small amount of snow remains at the base of the chimney on the second pitch.  The scramble portion has two small sections of snow but is mostly snow-free.  From the whale back to the summit there is no snow.

Eleven hours car-to-car for a group of ten; we also encountered seven other climbers from other parties but there was room for everybody.  We had four leaders and six followers so two leaders brought up two followers each by belaying from the anchor with a reverso (or guide).  Students all did well.  We climbed three pitches and put a hand line on the whale back which was left in place for the descent.  The weather held; no rain although dark clouds were in the distance.  Three single raps on the descent which went very smoothly.  One student slipped on the snow on the way out but managed to self-arrest after sliding about 20 feet.  6:15 AM depart cars; 8:00 AM first team climbing; teams arrived on summit between 10 AM and 1 PM (we were a bit spread out as we allowed other parties to climb through); started descent at 2 PM; all at base of climb at 4 PM; return to cars 5:15 PM.  Mentored leader Gerry Chu did a great job and kept us coordinated and safe.  Great day.  Food at Mondo in Marblemount.