East Face, Lexington Tower IV 5.9+


Washington Pass, Washington, USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 3-7 hours
Approach time: 1.5-2.5 hours
Descent time: 1.5-2.5 hours
Number of pitches: 9
Height of route: 800'
The East Face of Lexington Tower may not be the biggest of the Liberty Bell group’s east faces, but it’s a full value experience that certainly packs a punch. While it may have an easier grade than many of the East Face routes, if you are unaccustomed to wide cracks, this route could feel like the one of the hardest. That said, those up to the challenge will be greeted by excellent, clean rock with amazing position, and sustained wide climbing not often found in Washington State. Climbing below the ominous roof is alluring and the traverse around its right side is spectacular.
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Route History
The East Face of Lexington Tower was first climbed in 1966 by Steve Marts and Don McPherson. This was pre-highway and the pair faced a long hike in up Early Winters Creek. With no road and few people around, the towering east faces were an extremely bold and committing undertaking. But the pair’s experience in the area and their recent first ascent of Liberty Crack gave them confidence.
The climbing started off easy enough though protection was scarce, the route finding unobvious and the impossible- looking roof loamed over them. Once they reached the roof, Marts and McPherson were relieved to find they could traverse to the right and avoid the incredibly difficult looking Bombay Chimney above. After
a tough section requiring a mix of aid and free climbing, McPherson aided off a hook. With no protection below for quite a distance and no possibilities for anchors in sight, he wedged himself into the crack. Not wanting to waste time, he began shouting at Marts to start jumaring. McPherson started drilling while Marts jumared on McPherson’s body; keep in mind, this was in the days of the swami belt. It was an intense moment. McPherson recalls, “I was taking a chance on both of us,” but he didn’t want to slow down. After that, one more challenging pitch led to easier climbing. They finished their route without losing their rack, and claimed another classic First Ascent on another of the great east faces.

The East Face of Lexington Tower is a big route for solid 5.9 climbers with wide crack experience. Because of the East Face’s formidable reputation, crowds are light and more than one other party is unlikely even on a busy weekend. Passing is difficult. There are no variations after Pitch 1, and the stances are small at nearly all of the belay ledges.

Start early. While the first few pitches are easier with generally ...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff
Lexington Tower - East Face IV 5.9+ - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
Lexington Tower East Face
Photo: Ian Nicholson
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Lexington Tower North Face
Lexington Tower - Tooth and Claw IV 5.12a - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click for details.
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Lexington Tower when viewed from the East
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