Gargoyle Buttress, The Royal Tower IV, 5.10a


Alaska, USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 7-16 hours
Approach time: 20 minutes
Descent time: 3-7 hours
Number of pitches: 13
Height of route: 2,500'
The Royal Tower (8,130 feet) is the tallest and most prominent peak in Little Switzerland. With its twin summits and amazing flying buttresses into the Pika, it is this peak that defines the essence of the region’s namesake. To the left of the major gully that divides the east face is a sweeping ridge of granite of near perfect proportions. This, the Gargoyle Buttress, is by far the most striking and obvious line out of the Pika Glacier. While most parties will be content to just complete the rock climbing portion of the route, it is the complete package that makes it one of the finest alpine climbs in the region. Although the natural line finishes at the slightly lower South Summit, to stand on either summit of this grand massif is a notable accomplishment. First ascensionist Dave Anderson recalls that the “featured rock and great moderate crack systems as well as the breath-taking positions encountered along the route are incredible.”
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The Royal Tower - Gargoyle Buttress IV, 5.10a - Alaska, USA. Click to Enlarge
An overview of the line.
Photo: Joe Puryear
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