Arrowhead Arete history question


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 2, 2009 - 11:15pm PT
Classic Bump!

Trad climber
Nov 3, 2009 - 12:03am PT
Superb route, way up high off the valley floor... an experience from the valley floor all the way up and back again.

I climbed it in my old vibram mountain boots, I think in 2002, due to a foot injury. Still seemed about 5.8, but a few spots I had to think "What would Spencer Tracy do?"


Trad climber
Hollywood, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 3, 2009 - 04:13am PT
Sweet, I can't believe this thread resurfaced.

If you haven't done this route, do it. You won't regret it. You'll want to keep returning.

Re-read my post from last fall and stand by it. Would still recommend late spring. Plus the backcountry views are the best then.

Was going to do a return trip up there this year but life took a different turn and the Eastern Sierra is where I stayed. Oh well, it'll always be there for next year. One you'll always look forward to.


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 3, 2009 - 08:25am PT
A classic route done in the year of my birth, guess I'll have to do it.

Who's in? Beth?

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Nov 3, 2009 - 01:49pm PT
Memory serves me that it was THE horror climb then, and that Powell did little else after.

Peter, MP taught me how to climb, in 1973. So he did some good things after.

Shattering his ankle, changed his life.

He tells the tale to all freshmen in his Geography 101 class.

It's a very cool tale about motivation and desire.

He did put up maybe the first 5.11 on the planet, "Chingadera" in febuary 67.with Kamps.

I wish he would join the TACO....the stories he could tell.

Social climber
Vancouver, Canada
Nov 3, 2009 - 02:09pm PT
Did anybody else other than me walk to the Rim after AA ? A girlfriend and I did the route & walked to the Rim & down the Falls trail c'os someone had scared me away from doing the rap descent.......

It really was a mountaineering outing & that was my last trip to Yos. Fall of 1985.

Jacq and I did all sorts of Valley classics on that trip; E butt Middle, Snake Dike and AA. Love the AA !!!!

Trad climber
Old Climbers' Home (Adopted)
Nov 3, 2009 - 03:14pm PT
Although classic and remote (for the area), its hardly obscure. Vampire Spires, perhaps.
John Morton

Nov 3, 2009 - 11:39pm PT
I spent the night by a bonfire in the W Arrowhead Chimney with 3 others after doing the arete. I think I wanted to rappel in the looming darkness but was outvoted. Those house-sized chockstones are truly awesome, whether or not you can see them! I always thought anyone who hiked to the rim was just chickenshit about those rappels.

For the historians, regarding a comment earlier in this thread: I remember hearing that Powell shattered his ankle in a fall on the Apron, not on Arrowhead Spire. He fell on lead and pendulumed into Beverly, his belayer. Or was that a different injury?


Hobart, Australia
Nov 4, 2009 - 01:01am PT
Can't recall all the details, but I climbed that with my old climbing partner John Ely sometime in the late 80's, and we ended up doing an unplanned bivy somewhere (after the actual route, I believe) on our way to the rim, then we got to the rim and hiked down the falls trails the next morning.

Not sure why it took us so long. I recall we had been thinking we would find a way to rappel off, but did not see any possibility of where a rappel route could possibly be, so we made the decision to continue to the rim, which took a long time to get there.

Also, I recall thinking there were lots of variations of the route along the way. One or two pitches matched the green guide description, at least!

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Nov 4, 2009 - 12:08pm PT
John Morton......

Mark tells this tale about his fall......

He was taking a "young lady" climbing up the Arrow Head Arete.

It was lower down and because "she" didn't know how to take out pro, he wasn't using any. He slipped and decked on the ledge where she was sitting.

His ankle was shattered.......

But the reason he told this story was to point out a geographical phenomenon associated with Mountain Valleys.

The direction of the wind, in the mornings, it blows up-valley, in the afternoon down valley.

So while he is hurt on the ledge, he tries to "score" with her!

She starts yelling for help.....

He tells her "It will not help, nobody can hear us, it's am.

So she starts yelling even louder....

When the winds changed, about 3 pm or so, folks in the Valley can hear the cries for help and some sort of rescue is organized, but they had to spend the night out alone and cold.

Marks says "she was so happy to be rescued from that bivy"......

I'm sorry for butchering Mark's story, but this is the gist of it.

He is the best story teller I have ever listened to and climbed with.(largo is second)

Guy Keesee


Trad climber
Bay Area
Nov 4, 2009 - 10:29pm PT
I did it in April. BITD. Started to snow while we were on the white face (pitch 4?).
Contemplated retreat but carried on. Snow stopped before the rock got wet! YEAH
Awesome exposure.
A most excellent adventure. It's on my tick list to do again. One of the finest long days in the valley. Be careful rapping the west Arrowhead chimney.
I thought it was 5.8, not 5.9

old toad

Trad climber
yosemite, Ca.
Nov 4, 2009 - 10:37pm PT
Bump the climbing threads, deep 6 the rest!!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 4, 2009 - 10:39pm PT
You are pretty close, Guyman. Mark had done the AA several times and had even down climbed the route. On the day in question, for no good reason, he chose to traverse left too early. Rather than backtrack to the approach gully, he chose to rope up and start climbing on easy ground. As he describes it, he paused on a big foothold which broke off unexpectedly. He rattled down for about forty feet and struck a horn with his left foot. A long protracted rescue took place, complicated as you mentioned by the air moving toward the rim.

Trad climber
Moorpark, CA.
Nov 5, 2009 - 01:34am PT
That sound about right.... most of the 70's are pretty hazey in the memory banks.


Trad climber
somewhere approaching Ajna
Nov 5, 2009 - 02:34am PT
This is one of my all time favorite threads... each time it gets bumped it's still as good as ever. One of these days...


Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Apr 17, 2010 - 04:37am PT
Bump for Powell and the infamous howl.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Apr 17, 2010 - 12:31pm PT
What's interesting about the AA is that it shows how certain climbs cycle through the climbing community and are sort of rediscovered by later generations who were never privy to the original hype. Like, when I started going to Yoz as a senior in High School circa 1971, the really hot, leading edge stuff were long things like DNB, Stovelegs, LA Chimney, and so forth, whic had been done very few times. And of course the new hard free climbs like New Dimensions, Nabisco Wall and so forth.

For the previous generation, who basically left the Valley around 1970, the Arrowhead Arete had been a big deal, probably up to the early to mid-60s. I first climbed the route with an "old timer" (Phil Gleason) who knew the old history, because none of my generation did. Without threads like this one, few present day climbers would know anything about the AA.

To get full value, you'd need o go up there with half a dozen pegs, a goldline, and climb it in hiking shoes sans chalk.


Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Apr 17, 2010 - 12:54pm PT
Everything about Arrowhead Arete is 100% classic. If there is anyone out there on ST who has not done this route... DO IT! Sure, it may not be 5.14 and all that, but put your ego in your back pocket and go have one of the best days on rock you will ever have!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Apr 17, 2010 - 01:09pm PT
Some Arrowhead Arete threads

A Dingus Milktoast classic:

A trip report including the Spire

and another

gear recommendation


Trad climber
san diego
Apr 17, 2010 - 04:35pm PT
JL nailed it(the sentiments/requirements at the time, not the route...duh)when he mentions DNB, the Stovelegs, and LAC.

John and Will Tyre shaved significant accent time off the DNB @'71! And the LAC was tagged as "the hardest day of your life"...just a pleasant note for anyone having second thoughts. And i remember looking up at the Stovelegs and thinking it was a long way to go and then have to rap back down, as was then the rage.

And the Nabisco Wall with stories of 70 ft. whippers off Wheat Thin, and Butterballs had yet to be plucked...great time for a noob who was all ears.

But by '74 i recall the AA as being a must do classic once again...JL must have spread the word.

EDIT: Make that "longest day of your life"(in my was both)!
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