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Trip Report    

South Early Winter Spire/South Arête

Conditions Update & Successful Summit of SEWS post-rockfall event

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Wanted to provide a conditions update since there's not a lot of info out there about this climb after the big rockfall event.

    It appears the rockfall occurred in the 3rd pitch (above the chimney) and affected pitch 3 and 2.

    The major trundling work has been completed thanks to a local guiding company, and the large loose blocks have been cleared. There are still many small loose rocks in the chimney pitch and just above. With careful climbing, you can avoid knocking rocks down on your party. Special care must be taken to only weight rocks that you know are part of the mountain.

    Be especially careful topping out of the chimney. Much loose rock here. Recommend to top out on climber's right side of the chimney, and set up your belay carefully - think about where your rope is going to be running.

    On the 3rd pitch, I slung a few trees up high, more to keep the rope running high, out of the loose rocks, rather than to protect a fall. The climbing is easy here.

    We pitched it out as follows:

    Pitch 1 to the tree anchor on the right

    Pitch 2 to top of chimney (we belayed from the tree)

    Pitch 3 to top of loose gully; tree anchor

    Long simul pitch to White Camel

    Long simul pitch from White Camel to summit


    Long simul down climb to top of Pitch 3 rap station, slings on tree

    Rappel 1: Single rap to NEW bolted rap station on skiers' left of the top of pitch 2 chimney

    Rappel 2: Single rap down chimney pitch. A 60m does not quite reach the final rap chains (skiers' right). We stayed skiers' left (out of the fall line of any loose rocks) waited until everyone was down, and then scrambled over to the final rap anchor.

    Rappel 3: Single rap from chains to the base of the climb

    Recommend getting an early start so that no one is rappelling while you're trying to climb pitch 2 & 3. Remember that the S Arete is the descent route for the whole peak.

    Plenty of snow still on the approach, conditions were good for kicking steps. Used ice ax and crampons.

    In short - the route is definitely doable, but caution should be taken. Might not be the best for new climbers who aren't confident in their movement. I'd recommend students use rock shoes instead of mountain boots to help with precise footwork. Test holds before committing.