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Trip Report    

Intermediate Alpine Climb - South Early Winter Spire/West Face & Southwest Rib

A fun and pretty straight forward day climb

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • The route was dry and it was a beautiful sunny day.



I was looking to do a simple day climb and the Southwest rib has been on my radar for a couple years now.  Justin agreed to join me despite being sick and I think wishing he was at home in bed. (Thanks Justin!) 

We got started at the trailhead at 7:15 and reached the base of the climb at 8:15, then started climbing at 8:40.  A few highlights: 

Pitch #1 has a bulge that I believe is the crux on the route, but has reasonably good protection options. 

The “wavy crack” was one of my favorite parts.  If you look down to your left, it feels extremely exposed, but the body position and protection gives a contrasting feeling of it being reasonably secure.  Justin led that pitch, but I look forward to leading it next time. 

The nervous nelly slab was a bit of a mental crux for me.  It snuck up on me as the climbing below felt so secure.  The pitch starts by going wide right on some very secure terrain, then turning left up the slab.  At about 15ft past my last protection, there was an insecure slab traverse move.  I found a left hand crimp that secured my body position, but I’m told there is also a small step down to the right that makes the reach to the jug more accessible.  5.6 seems a little sandbagged to me, but I may have just missed something. 

The bear-hug pitch was my other favorite sequence.  It looks exciting from below, but after the first move, it was secure and really fun.  I placed a #4 BD at the base, and as I moved up, placed the #5 I had been lugging around more to get it off my harness than anything.  There’s a ledge that you’ll arrive at soon after.  I scrambled up past that to the next belay, but in retrospect should have stopped there to avoid rope drag. 

At that point, simul-climbing is a good choice.  We rappelled to the gully when we reached the “rabbit ears”, but it appeared we could have saved time by simul-climbing down to the right before reaching the rappel. 

The final moves to the top are short, and in my opinion only warranted a rope because of the exposure to the left and right.

At the Summit (12:30), there were some bugs that looked like termites waging war on each other.

Summit Dance.jpg

(Apparently swatting a swarm of flying ants makes me look like I’m dancing.)

So Justin and I got our summit photo slightly below the summit.


We chose to take the South Arête down rather than the gully, which I really enjoyed.  It was fun down climbing, to a conclusion of two rappels.  We arrived back at our packs at 1:40, and got sunbaked on the way down, arriving at the cars at 2:45.

My take-away:  This was a really fun day-climb.  Next time I go up, I’ll probably bring less gear.  Doubles up to 0.5, singles to #4.  Some will want a #5, but I didn’t feel it was necessary.  Overall it was a nice, relaxed day of climbing on a beautiful day, with no big surprises.