Rolf and I enjoyed some Labor Day work on Tower, putting up a grade III 5.10- on Tower's NE Face, and then climbing an old-school 5.8 on Golden Horn. Our schwacky 4-mi. approach to Snowy Lakes via Swamp Creek took around 3.5 hours up, a little over 2 back--not so bad. The other option is 10+ miles of Pacific Crest Trail.
Scurlock's pic of Tower's NE Face:
Calling the route tower of babble
. We eventually climbed on the other side of this probuscis-looking feature about halfway up (taken the evening before our ascent whilst scouting the approach and caching gear); someone should go back there and climb this side's steep, wide and white corner:
Got up at 3:30a, approached over a col on the NW side of the mountain and descended snow along the mtn's N arm. From the base of the arm, spent a little time deliberating over lines. The steepness of the face had us a bit skeptical. Rolf had attempted a route on the face before but bailed a few pitches up. The only other route we're aware of is a Doorish route, shown in yellow. Our approx. route in red.
Began with 2 simulclimbing pitches 5.7-8 below the big ledge, some 3rd class on the ledge system and then 5 more pitches above. The 5 upper pitches were the business and went 5.10-, .9ish, .9ish, .6ish and 4th. I led the first up through some mandatory steep and loose blocks, and avoided more unpleasantness by face climbing left to a more solid crack system, then up into and through a chimney to emerge on a ledge.
Rolf went out an exposed ledge and up the second pitch, better rock now with solid and clean splitter fingers and hands, and then step right into a mostly off-width/squeeze corner. Beautiful pitch, marred only by some loose blocks on the roof moves that ended the pitch.
looking down the corner
My lead started with a face move left to initially good rock, fingers and wide crack, devolving into sometimes loose flakes for the rest of my pitch, arriving at a sniper perch high on the arete. Our final steep pitch.
looking down after face move
and back at rolf's belay, where we could see through the mtn toward golden horn
from top of the more technical climbing
From Tower's summit, our next day's climb is visible on Golden Horn. It's the NE Arete on the right-hand skyline.
Overall, our route on Tower is recommended. There is some typical alpine looseness, but the climbing is generally aesthetic. The NE face warrants further exploration.
We returned to camp...Rolf not only brought a can-do attitude, but also some Oban scotch. This helped blur our decision-making, and we agreed to check out Golden Horn the next day.
The NE Arete was climbed in 1979; we were impressed by the huevos of these guys. The route requires substantial risk management and a sense of humor. Beckey's description, including the hearsay about shaky ratings, is pretty much spot-on. For example, at one point you must mantle/contort yourself up onto a ledge that holds a mound of kitty litter the size of a small car. Still, the route got better as we got higher, and there are glimmers of fun climbing. endorsement?
cannonhole in the arete
better rock up around p. 7
v fun weekend with some terror-tainment in the mix. more pics here.
edited to add: I see that rolf has posted a concise description of the pitches here: http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthr ... er=1033794