Arrowhead Arete and Spire TR


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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 29, 2007 - 04:38am PT
You can see in Gary's second picture "Base of Arete" the place where Roper lost it, it is a close in space, and everything is going straight up from here... amazing that someone would find this place let alone devine a climbing route out of it!

Trad climber
just over the hill
May 29, 2007 - 06:58am PT
Thanks for the great TR and photos. This route holds some great memories. I did this with a good buddy in '82, during our first visit to the Valley. It was February, and we, being boneheads, got a lackadaisical start, finishing the approach sometime after noon. That start and our general sloth and incompetence led to our being benighted on the descent, with darkness catching up to us just above the big chockstone rappel. My partner wanted to continue, and I didn't (in those pre-headlamp days/nights). So he tried the chockstone rappel, and came to a stop in a meltwater stream when a big rope snarl hit his 8 ring. He got an inspired thought (think it was in a Bond film?) and removed his shoe laces and prusiked up far enough to untangle the rope, and finish the rap. That halted our descent. So we resigned ourselves to a long, cold, quiet night out, punctuated only by the occasional rock tumbling down the gully, and the sounds of laughter coming from the Ahwahnee hotel, far beneath us, where we could see drier, warmer people.

Trad climber
the blighted lands of hatu
May 29, 2007 - 10:40am PT
oh man that looks sweeeeeeet...nice TR and pics !

May 29, 2007 - 11:12am PT
Great Climb! And report.Been up this thing a bunch of times and I took my wife up this years ago.Still is an issue for discussion in our house!Scooting across the top seemed to spook her a little bit! Intimidating is correct.Beautiful though!

What do you think about this climb Dingus? ;)
scuffy b

The town that Nature forgot to hate
May 30, 2007 - 11:25am PT
Thanks for the great report, Ed.
I've been so psyched out by this climb for the past 31 years.
When I went to do it:
1)I hadn't led anything in about 6 months
2)My partner had only been bouldering for the previous 3 years
3)We got a late start
4)We were slow as slow can be
5)At the summit, at sunset, we were already wearing all our warm
gear (late March)
6)Almost walked off the 1st rappel in the dark (no lights)
7)Pulled a boulder onto myself when nearly down to the car
8)Self-rescued, arrived at the clinic 4 AM
Congratulations to all you folk who get up and down it in good
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2007 - 02:39am PT
Gary on the pitch 4 lead, Arrowhead Arete

Gary following pitch 5, the "White Flake" pitch

The granite "needle" that fell, broke in half, and rests on pitch 6 noted in the SuperTopo as "rock arch"... truly amazing

The view looking back along the "amazing exposed ridge" which probably would be 4th class if there weren't so much air on either side! From the "spike belay" atop pitch 7


Trad climber
Jun 2, 2007 - 12:32pm PT
Nice pics. Is there a consesus that this climb should still be rated 5.8 instead of the new Supertopo 5.9? I'm not getting down on the guys, just talking.
The crux of the climb for me was one of the sections still rated 5.8. I have thick hands and had trouble with the jamb at the rooflet in Ed's picture #1. In pitch 2, also my lead, the 5.8 was harder for me than the 5.9. I'm not that good at ratings. What are peoples thoughts.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 2, 2007 - 12:41pm PT
Gary and I talked about the rating... we had a great day and were climbing strong, but deliberately... somehow this climb wasn't a fast climb.

What we came up with was the idea that nothing was harder than 5.8, but that the setting, and the continuous nature of the climbing suggested that you should be a solid 5.9 leader to pull the climb off without drama.

We didn't find the "5.9 stem" on the second pitch but the "fists" part would probably wig out a leader unfamiliar with that technique... when I pulled the "5.9 bulge" on the third pitch I didn't think it was harder than 5.8.

The "5.9 thin hands" was steep but I didn't think it matched other 5.9 thin hands in the Valley.

The climbing is so featured that it was really unusual for a Valley climb, in my opinion. It is a remote place, though you could probably yell down to the YOSAR office and be heard... or wave your tee-shirt at Werner... wear red!... and the climbing is steep.

I think it is 5.8, but that rating is only a part of the story... the White Flake was a wild pitch, and it is only 5.7, but I'm sure glad we've been hitting the OW a lot 'cause it would be a pants filler if your technique was bogus.

Trad climber
Jun 10, 2008 - 01:44pm PT
Cool thread and a cool looking climb

thanks for the post

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jun 10, 2008 - 02:02pm PT
Thanks again for your excellent report. Your sense of good adventure climbs is impeccable. I eagerly await your next report.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 10, 2008 - 02:57pm PT
thanks Ed-great TR and brings back fond and not so fond memories. In Sept 1960, Mort Hempel, Phil Scott, Art "the Move" Gran and myself made an attempt on the Arrowhead Arete.
On that long and difficult approach, Gran, who was ahead of us all, knocked a large rock loose. We all scattered and tried to decipher which way it would go. I lost and rolled with the rock for 500 ft to the base. Beat up, severely bruised and one hell of a mess i was fortunate to have no broken bones. Scott who had grown up in Hawaii, took off his boots, put me on his back and carried be to the valley floor and the hospital. Rugged dude.

Spent a good month on crutches and remember the high school coach calling me chicken shi#t for not playing football, i could only smile.

Went back the next summer and completed the route with a smaller crew. Also climbed the East Arrowhead Buttress Overhang Bypass route that summer with Roper. Another fun trip that summer was a climb of Castle Rock Spire with Roper and Powell. Have boxes and boxes of slides and photos from this era but have to get through the scanning process first. Someday!

scuffy b

watching the flytrap
Jun 10, 2008 - 04:22pm PT
A small coincidence here, Guido.
When I did this climb in 1976...the day before, I had been
talking with the same Phil Scott. He told a story of a climber
hit in the face by rockfall, who required an emergency
tracheotomy, performed by a surgeon who was part of his group.

When I dislodged a boulder nearly at the bottom of the all-night
descent, it struck my face on its way to squishing my arm.
Before I hit the ground, I'd already determined all my teeth
were intact and I probably didn't have a broken jaw.

We had just enough matches for my partner to check my pupils,
then we continued staggering down the hill.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 10, 2008 - 08:17pm PT
Another small coincidence- Its March 1988,Boche and I just sailed my boat into Honolulu after a 17 day passage from Tahiti and were in the Hawaii Yacht Club sucking down some tall cool ones and junk burgers. I'm in the head and I hear this voice which could only be Phil Scott .As you know, few people have a voice as distinctive as Phil. Sure enough it was-had not seen him since the Arrowhead Arete climb in 1960! He had been visiting his brother, a retired navy submarine commander. I remember when Phil was a student at Cal he lived in a tent in Strawberry canyon behind the Botanical Gardens. Quite a character.


Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Jun 10, 2008 - 10:12pm PT
excellent thread - thanks so much!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 10, 2008 - 11:24pm PT
Roped soloed Arrowhead Arete one day when I didn't have a partner and figured ignoring this route after living in Yosemite for many, many years was lame.

The route was stout but doable but I really got gripped on the approach when I stayed right of the gully when I should have been left. If the munge and hummoks gave out, I wouldn't be typing this!


Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2013 - 07:37pm PT
Linda, Bela and PeterC and I were up there yesterday... great day and great companions

Bela belaying pitch 1 from the tree in the notch

Linda contemplating the moves through the Pitch 2 crux...

...and at the top of Pitch 3

end of the day traverse

PeterC was too fast for my camera...
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 12, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
it was a wonderful day

Half Dome, Mount Clark, Gray Peak, Triple Divide Peak, Red Peak, Mt. Starr King
the high country
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 1, 2014 - 03:37pm PT
bump for the stoke

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Mar 1, 2014 - 03:46pm PT
thx, nice bump Ed

Squido was just up there, so had been thinking about it.

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Mar 1, 2014 - 03:54pm PT
Thanks for the pics/report

My (then to be) wife walked up to do this in fall '01 and she slipped on the approach and messed up her wrist. We turned around and went up to hike Half Dome the next day. Might have never done that hike if it hadn't have happened. It ended up being a fantastic hike. Now that I'm living in the area, I need to go up and check this out again.

BTW Ed, we have a mutual acquaintance, a geology prof from UNC-Chapel HIll and she said to say hi.
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