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South Early Winter Spire/South Arête

Three rope teams started early on Saturday 7/11, 5am, to avoid "afternoon thundershowers" and timed it perfectly. We summited at 10am, and got back to the cars at 1:00. We were prepared to rappel on an instant's notice, but clouds were way south and east during the climb. There wasn't any lightning. We were camped at Lone Fir to climb the Kangaroo Temple on Sunday, and it rained down there all afternoon at the camp, clearing again after 6pm. The early start made us the first and practically only people on the route until our last rappel when another team came up. The whole team hiked and climbed quickly except for one struggle up the chimney with a backpack. We set a handline on the "whaleback" or "white camel hump", and set a prusik line up the gully to the summit to keep people moving quickly to and from the top without worrying about slippery gravel or that last scramble to the top. For the descent, the rope leads talked about scrambling all the way down to the top of the chimney, but opted to scramble only to a little stubby tree about 20 meters above the chimney with a 70m rope. That tree is kinda hidden over the top of a boulder on the way down the ridge crest. The "35m" distance put us well below the chimney on scramble-able terrain, and we scrambled down to the slung tree at the top of Pitch-1, making for two rappels total. A 60m rope from that same tree leaves you above a steep section in the chimney gully, but the 70m was perfect. There was no water after passing a very small creak about 3/4 mile from the trailhead, so bring extra on a hot day. We saw only about 5 goats this time.

 

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