Ultra Mega OK, Burgundy Spire III+ 5.11a


Washington Pass, Washington, USA

  • Currently 2.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 4-8 hours
Approach time: 3-5 hours
Descent time: 3-5 hours
Number of pitches: 9
Height of route: 800'
This is a newer and adventurous route on mostly solid rock. It’s a big step up in difficulty from Action Potential because the climbing is harder, the route finding more challenging and there are more runout sections. The position and the finish are awesome and the cruxes are well-protected. You can pull through the hardest sections on gear but there is a lot of easier 5.10 and 5.9 moves a short ways above your gear on dirty, lichen-covered rock. Be solid at 5.10+ or 5.11a for this route.

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Route History
Tom Smith and Mark Allen made the first ascent on July 24, 2004. Smith and Allen saw the line during the second free ascent of the East Face via Action Potential on July 22 (only three days after that routes first ascent).

On July 24, after consuming jet fuel (coffee), at the Mazama Store, Allen and Smith left the Highway on the approach at 7:30 am. Allen and Smith started up Pitch 1 of an independent line, barely ten feet to the right of Action Potential’s first splitter pitch. The two routes shared the first belay. They trundled few rocks and began climbing a chimney that was followed by a right-facing corner. The system continued via hand and finger cracks as predicted by their previous scouting. Then, an unexpected difficulty. They stood on a ledge below an open book seam leading to a double-roofed hand-to- fist crack with changing corners. Lichen made it very difficult to free climb. Smith aided the seam and freed the difficult roofs at 5.10c/d. As the second, Allen was able to free the newly cleaned seam and concluded that it should be 5.11ish.

Allen and Smith continued to discover finger and hand crack systems made more exciting by great exposure and position to the glacier below. They followed the system with enthusiasm, stoked by views of Vasaliki Ridge and the Silver Star Glacier drainage. Smith led the amazing last, spicy pitch and topped out on Burgundy’s north shoulder joining the Original Route (Becky, Hane, Parrott, 1953) for a few final pitches to the summit block which he reached at 8:30 p.m. Allen said, “I was amazed at the quality of another unclimbed line on Burgundy East Face.” After making it to the summit, they rapped down to Burgundy Col. The route was done car-to-car, free of tat or bolts. Two Lost Arrows were placed at the crux belay and one remains.

Crowds are unlikely. There is a fair bit of loose rock, and you would not want to climb under another party.
The route starts less than ten feet to the right of Action Potential, up a twin splitter crack system on very clean granite. After 100 feet, you reach a small ledge and the top of Pitch 1. This is also the same belay station as Action Potential. The next pitch starts up a dirty chimney with good gear leading to a splitter .75-1” crack, followed by more blocky climbing, some splitter cracks and the belay. The next pitch ascends funky, loose looking but fairly solid blocks. While these blocks look fairly solid, take care not to dislodge one on your partner below. Climb past these blocks to a short under-cling leading to the belay at the triangle ...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff
Burgundy Spire - Ultra Mega OK III+ 5.11a - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
Burgundy Spire Ultra Mega OK
Photo: Ian Nicholson
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