E Face Lexington Tower Photo Trip Report


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Big Wall climber
Yosemite, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 5, 2008 - 02:53pm PT
No, Washington Pass is not in Yosemite. But, the offer of a small work project and the opportunity to return to Seattle during prime Cascade climbing season has put me “on the road” for the summer. Not to mention avoiding the hot in El Portal.

I had done some cragging with Stewart in the past, so we teamed up for a Washington Pass weekend. Getting out of bed at 4 am on Saturday to avoid the bad I-5 N traffic on Friday night was not feeling so good on Saturday morning. We toughed it out and headed straight up to the Pass. Along the way, there was intermittent misting and even some rain. Wasn’t looking Bluebird at all. We got to the pass, after both thinking more than once that we were doomed to Sport Climb in Mazama. But, we got out of the car to look at our objective…

The East Face of Lexington Tower, which is the second tower to the left of the huge Liberty Bell on the far right. At 8:30 at the pass, while the sky wasn’t clear, we really couldn’t see weather bad enough to stop us. So, we both agreed that “there was no reason not to go”. So, in we went.

It’s a fast hike to the base of Liberty Bell, and a party above the roof on Liberty Crack provided a diversion from the hiking exertion.

They however were not reachable by monkey call, in spite of me being able to hear every word they said. (Neither were the masses of people that we saw later on N Early winter spire. I guess unlike the California Monkeys, the Northern Monkeys have lost their ability to communicate between traveling groups).

We found the base of the route (for us that day) as a small rock pedestal in an island of snow, reached by using our trusty rock-axes. I noticed a hangerless bolt on the low end of the pedestal after Stewart started leading.

We only carried one camera that day, so photos are limited. The first pitch was easy going, and the only question was how to do the linking we were trying to do to line up our pitches the way we intended. Stewart ending up leading most of the 5.7 weird face on our “third” pitch. Neither of us really liked this strange face pitch with little pro. I did the easier 5.7 up to a stance. If we did it again, I would surely have to lead the 5.7 as a penalty pitch.

Stewart led up the fun dihedral and stopped again at a tree. Now it was time for me to link 4 & 5.

Pitch 4 was really fun, with some fun jamming, pretty easy climbing, and secure enough to save most of the pro for the later part of the pitches.

In spite of my best intentions, I rope dragged myself just in time for the 5.9. Apparently, the rope got jammed in somehow next to a #3 cam, and then I left a piece with just a bit too short of a sling in the dihedral down below the hand traverse. The hand traverse was wild and fun, with the main difficult being careful protection for no drag (which ended up being pointless as the damage was already done). By the time I got to the 5.9 crack to go up to the alcove, the drag was pretty hopeless. Even though I know the mistakes I made in linking this, and could supposedly correct them in the future, I think it would be more fun to just separate the pitches. Why not, the route is short anyway.

So, after much laboring to slowly crawl up the final bit of 5.9, I got to the alcove. Stewart’s OW to chimney to super fun OW was about to begin. The chunka wood is still in the crack and there are two new bolts above that. The chunka wood isn’t really in a place where it provides meaningful protection, but could be used. With the bolts and our overall experience on the climb, we believe that you really only need two pieces of big gear instead of three. We had a new #4 (not really counting that as big gear), a Friend 5 (which is like a BD 4.5) and an old #5, plus a big bro. I think we could have left the Friend 5 at home.

Stewart cruised the initial OW (not really an OW at all) finding some handholds to climb it facing left. I had to chimney it with back to the left, then turn around at the second bolt (awkward). Then it was a real move of OW and up into the chimney. I love chimney’s but this was a skinny, frog style chimney, ala top of Generator crack size or a touch wider. Not my favorite size but secure. I prefer a bit wider, but whatever.

After this, the best part of the route emerged…the longest coolest pitch of 4 inch-ish and bigger OW I have ever climbed. The solid kitty litter style rock made the OW a lot easier than if it had been smooth granite. While I was definitely grunting all the way up, it was the good exhertion. No desperation, a little knee knocking (they are both bruised now) and lots of good feet! A little narrower than the hard part of Generator Crack, this was perfect for my feet in rock shoes. For bigger people, the feet would almost be crack feeling feet. I was having so much fun following this pitch, and whooped out some yea-haws a couple of times. Stewart and I were just raving and raving about the pitch at the belay. After the OW, the slightly balancey face moves to the ledge and tree that Stewart belayed at (easily linking 6/7 with rope leftover) were scary! I preferred the OW!

From the belay it was easy 5th to the first “topout”.

Then we did belay again to the top of the feature.

I have already forgotten but I believe that we spent 5 hours on route? 9:30 to 2:30? Sounds right. Fun day.

We hiked out and got a ride to our car from some guys looking casual, clean and having just cruised the 5.11 on N Early Winter.

Some relaxing car camping and a good dinner (Hot dogs, sardines, black beans and more) led to a good night sleep and a not so early 5:30 am wakeup. It actually gets light at Wa Pass earlier than Seattle, so it was pretty easy for me to wakeup at 5:30.

We headed off for an easier day, one that we thought might take longer, and would take us to the top of a peak…Cutthroat Peak, via the SW Buttress (also known as the S Buttress).

(See the SW Buttress trip report here… http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=648322&tn=0#msg648322 )

Ice climber
Aug 5, 2008 - 03:18pm PT
This looks like a really cool climb.

Trad climber
berkeley ca
Aug 5, 2008 - 04:23pm PT
looks cool. Nice snow field.

BUT, leading with a pack in OW on a 4 hr route, that makes the OW like 5.11+. Anyway, their are easier ways.

I think monkey calls are only for valley frat peeps. It's like real wilderness reticents up north, tru mountain peeps. You know seen enough of their buddies die in an avalanche to really yelp anymore.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 5, 2008 - 04:34pm PT
Nice report - almost my backyard. Very nice dry alpine cragging, plus I have a friend who lives in Mazama.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Aug 5, 2008 - 04:37pm PT
That's a fun one. Good timing to avoid the smoke too, Holly.

Lots of really good stuff at WaPass, enjoyed everything I've done up there. It's like roadside alpine rock cragging rarely more than 30min from the car in a gorgeous setting. Good beer in the pub in Winthrop and some good fishing over there too. Just watch out for the deer on the eastside at night, it's insane.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Aug 5, 2008 - 05:43pm PT
Nice. How were the bugs?

You should go do that West Face of North Early Winters Spire, if you haven't already. Not 5.11 - at most 5.10c; easier than Mr. Natural. Short crux, good pro, and good feet. Probably the crux is getting past the crowds if it's a weekend....


Big Wall climber
Yosemite, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 5, 2008 - 05:53pm PT
Fixed the Liberty Bell reference...Thanks!

Bugs were brutal, I was still itching all day on Monday.

Dude...remember the deal, I only post these photo trip reports as long as people are nice. So, don't call me a Valley Frat Peep!!

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 5, 2008 - 07:04pm PT
Nice work, Holly - great report and photos as always!


Aug 6, 2008 - 01:01am PT
Thanks for the nice write up Holly, it was fun doing the route with you. It'd been on my list for a while.

Oh and I like climbing with a pack much more than hanging two liters of water, my jacket, and my shoes off my harness. Then I can just dangle my pack for the OW and Chimney sections that require it. :-)

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Aug 6, 2008 - 08:41am PT
Cool tr.


Trad climber
Aug 6, 2008 - 09:06am PT
Nice report Hollyclimber,
Looks like a beautiful area.
Russ Walling

Social climber
Out on the sand.... man.....
Aug 7, 2008 - 05:55pm PT
bump for the BigBro on his rack. Good job.

the gray bands
Aug 7, 2008 - 06:10pm PT
thanks for keeping it real, i.e. posting a climbing report on a climbing site.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Aug 8, 2008 - 12:42pm PT
Have you taken a day off from climbing this summer?
(well, maybe except for the drive from Yos to WA)?

Purrty awesome!
Thanks for the pix!

Social climber
Prescott, AZ
Aug 8, 2008 - 03:03pm PT
very cool TR. Thanks!

Seattle, WA
Aug 8, 2008 - 06:40pm PT
Yeah WA pass! I think i've climbed with Stewart too (mid winter aid at index if i recall...)

Here are a couple from a trip up there a few weeks ago:


Social climber
My Inner Nut
Aug 8, 2008 - 08:39pm PT
Nice TR, Holly. It's getting to be that time of the year where I miss the NW Alpine scene.

Thanks for the vicarious living!


Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 30, 2009 - 12:14am PT
End of the 60M offwidth pitch.
End of the 60M offwidth pitch.
Credit: Darwin

Another TR of the East Face of Lexington Tower at
Washington Pass in the North Cascades.
It took us longer than hollyclimber's , but we did have fun.

Our Sept 2009 Trip report
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Idaho, also. Sorta, kinda mostly, Yeah.
Sep 30, 2009 - 12:23am PT
Nice, Holly.
Beautiful place, that. I've not had the pleasure of the Cascade outing,.

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 30, 2009 - 01:33am PT
Hey, Holly. Nice TR once again. Keep pullin'.
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