Tunnel Route, Concord Tower II 5.8
Avg time to climb route: 1-3 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 3
Height of route: 300'
OverviewThe Tunnel Route, sometimes called the Cave Route, on Concord Tower is a good route on its own or a popular alternative to the often-crowded Beckey Route. Liberty Bell routes are popular in the morning since it has the morning sun, and Concord Tower is favored for afternoon climbs as it has the afternoon sun and it is often fun to climb a route on Liberty Bell in the morning and a route on the North Face of Concord in the afternoon.
The Tunnel Route is a step up in difficulty from the Becky Route and is a little harder than the North Face. The route has a few committing sections and route finding is slightly challenging but never difficult. The rock on the North Face of Concord is distinctly different from the granite on a lot of the surrounding peaks. Itís much darker, sharper, and more featured than the rock on the south, east, and west faces of the Liberty Bell group. From the tunnel for which this route is named, itís a nice place to hang out, eat some food and watch climbers on the Becky Route, Rapple Grapple, The Girl Next Door or the Overexposure Route.
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Route HistoryThe Tunnel Route was first climbed by Ron Burgner and Don McPherson in 1968.
StrategyWhile the route is not runout, you canít pull through many cruxes on gear, making it more suitable for confident 5.8 leaders. Because of some tricky traverses and a lack of traffic, this route demands a little more route finding than many of its grade. It is in the shade most of the day, takes at least a day to dry out after a storm and is often icy early and late in the season. In addition, it can be windy due to its exposed position in relation to the Liberty Bell-Concord Tower col.
Equal in popularity to the North Face, it is unlikely you will have to share this route with another party except on the busiest weekends. This is a novel feeling, to look over and see climbers on every pitch of the Becky Route and more waiting to start, while there is no one in front of you or possibly on all of Concord Tower.
Pitch 1 is for sure the crux and demands a little commitment. You get a solid piece right before the crux, but you wonít see the placement until it is right in your face. Pitch 2 has some tricky route finding as you try to detect the best way up and left underneath a small roof. The cave at the top of Pitch 2 is a fun place to hang out and is large enough to walk around unroped. You can link the last two pitches if you donít put in too much gear and if planning to do some maybe have some non-verbal communications worked out. It is hard to hear the leader from the cave. After walking through the tunnel, the final pitch starts with a slightly devious move out of the tunnel that leads to a spectacular finish. There are some fun features on the pitch, including an enormous heuco up the easy but exposed summit ridge. Leave shoes and extra gear at the bottom of the route as the rappels end a stoneís throw from the base
Retreat StormRetreat from the top of Pitch 1 with one 60m rope. From the top of the Pitch 2, you need two ropes. The cave at the top of the Pitch 2 offers excellent protection in the event of a storm. While the route protects fairly well, itís tough to aid up it in the event of a storm. The last pitch, while very moderate, is also slabby and is dangerous if it is wet or icy.
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