East Face, Chablis Spire II 5.6R
Avg time to climb route: 1-3 hours
Approach time: 3-5 hours
Descent time: 3-5 hours
Number of pitches: 4
Height of route: 400'
OverviewThe East Face is an unknown classic. It features good rock and moderate climbing among spires known for their difficulty. The one intimidating section, the short 5.6 R stretch on Pitch 2, is more like 5.4 or 5.5 and climbs big holds on clean rock. It is easier than the 5.6 R on the “Nervous Nelly pitch” on the Southwest Rib of South Early Winters Spire. While the route wanders back and forth, it has large, comfortable belay ledges and is sustained with every pitch at 5.6 (a rarity). This route is for solid 5.6 or 5.7 climbers.
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Route HistoryThe route was climbed by Fred Beckey, Richard Berge and Wesley Grand on June 17, 1952. Beckey, Berge and Grand had hiked in with the intent of climbing as many of the spires as possible. At first, the Wine Spires appeared impregnable, with enormous 1,200-foot west faces, and eastern faces rising 400-800 feet.
Berge spied a line on the granite slabs below Chablis spire. According to Beckey, “Although the route seemed to verge on the impossible, it turned out to be a delightful belayed climb, and we only had to use two pitons.” The trio was pleased that they had discovered a fun route on very solid rock.
After reaching the slender summit of Chablis, they descended and traversed to the lower flanks of Pernod Spire. They crossed a ledge along the east face and gained a notch on the north side of the peak between Chianti and Pernod Spires. They looked for a possible route, struggled with a slab for two hours, and placed two bolts and several pitons. With more difficult ground above them, they realized that the climb would likely take more gear and a full day to complete. Not prepared to bivi on the wall, they rappelled to the glacier. Later in the summer, Beckey and Wilde returned with McGowan, Hieb and Maki to the Wine Spires and camped in the upper Silver Star Creek. With a pre-dawn start, Beckey, Wilde and McGowan retraced their earlier attempt on Pernnod spire. Hieb and Maki went to attempt Chianti, planning to rappel 250 feet down from the notch and attempt a route on the other side.
Beckey, McGowan, and Wilde regained the previous high point at the bolts. Sustained and difficult climbing brought them to the summit. While they had been skeptical about the other team’s odds on Chianti, they could see them, also on the summit of Chianti, less than 50 feet away.
StrategyThe approach is long and the final permanent snowfield is steep (35-40 degrees) which deters crowds. Bring crampons and an ice axe. On the approach, look for the large, obviously split, detached block. The route starts just left.
The route steps off the permanent snowf... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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