Spontaneity Arête, Le Petit Cheval III 5.7
Washington Pass, Washington, USA
Avg time to climb route: 2-6 hours
Approach time: 1.5-2 hours
Descent time: 1.5-2 hours
Number of pitches: 8
Height of route: 900'
OverviewThe Spontaneity Arête, with solid rock, straightforward climbing, and an easy approach, has become a modern classic. It’s made up of mostly lower angle climbing with a few short, fun and well-protected 5.7 sections. It’s great for climbers looking to push themselves at the grade. It also has a ton of awesome 5.0-5.4 finger and hand cracks: a rarity in the area. The line itself is an aesthetic feature and you have excellent views of the Liberty Bell group. The route has one small disadvantage: a lack of exposure on one side. The exposure is great to the north with airy views looking toward the highway. To the right you are never more than a couple hundred feet above the gully no matter how high you climb.
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Route HistoryIn June 2004, Larry Goldie was heading east over Washington Pass late in the day when he noticed the west ridge of this little formation highlighted in the sun. A few days later, Goldie and Scott Johnston were headed up to climb the Direct East Buttress on South Early Winters Spire. Goldie mentioned the line as they were driving by and Scott said, “Want to go check it out right now?” Goldie swung the car around, and they made their way up to the start of the route. Goldie said, “We found the climbing so enjoyable, with pitch after pitch of fine moderate climbing on solid rock.” They were also delighted by the aesthetic line. They knew they had just discovered a new moderate classic.
The only down side was an unsavory descent down a steep, loose gully. The pair went back a few days later to establish a trail and Goldie decided to find a more pleasant descent. He set up the rap route a week or so later while guiding the second ascent of the climb. The name Spontaneity Arête comes from the spontaneous first ascent.
StrategyDespite being a newer route, there isn’t much loose rock and the route is quite clean. On the approach, it’s easy to walk right past the start of the route. If you hike into the gully to the right of the route, you’ve gone too far. Look for the corners that mark the start. The first two pitches have awesome 5.7 climbing, starting with some steep hands and fingers followed by a cool traverse around a roof. At the top of Pitch 2, move the rope uphill on second and third class terrain. After another easier pitch comes the crux. A well-protected 5.7 hand crack that bulges out leads to awesome 5.4 finger cracks. You can pull through the hardest moves on gear. Pitch 6 has an intimidating offwidth that is far easier than it looks. Start on the left side until a small foot rail appears and step left. If you’re not too tired, the 5.7 left Goldie Variation is no harder than any of the pitches you’ve already climbed and shouldn’t be missed. It has perfect hand and finger cracks with good stances to place gear from. You can traverse around right on lower angle 5.2 blocks but this isn’t as fun. Above this section, many climbers un-rope or simul- climb up the 2nd and 3rd class ridge to the top. The descent down the ridge is long and there is a fair bit of walking downhill and down scrambling, so unless your rock shoes are super comfortable most climbers bring their approach shoes up and then wear them down the route. If you think you might want to descend the gully then you’ll appreciate your approach shoes.
Retreat StormThe descent route is the ascent route with only slight variations. Descend at any time using one rope. You can also descend into the loose gully just to the south of the arête. The Spontaneity Arête gets all afternoon sun and dries out relatively quickly after a storm.
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