East Face, Minuteman Tower III 5.10b

   
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Washington Pass, Washington, USA

  • Currently 3.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 2-4 hours
Approach time: 1.5-2.5 hours
Descent time: 1.5-2.5 hours
Number of pitches: 6
Height of route: 600'
Overview
The East Face of Minuteman Tower is overshadowed by the other towering east faces of the Liberty group. If Minuteman stood alone, it would no doubt be a famous feature in the Cascades, but instead itís a feature extending from in the East Buttress of Concord Tower. The route has some poor rock and some lengthy runouts on mid-5th class terrain for three of the first four pitches. However, the fifth and sixth pitches are on excellent rock and the quality of movement is outstanding, making the climb worth it.

The position is unique and the views of the surrounding walls and ambiance are fantastic. If parties are quick, itís not uncommon for climbers to attempt to link this route up with another East Face route, making for a monster day. The poor rock on the lower half of this route is a shame, because the solitary splitter crack for that final two pitches is five stars.
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Route History
The East face of Minuteman Tower was first climbed in 1967 by Scott Davis and Bill Lingley. Not much else is known.

Strategy
While the East Face is well known, the route isnít that popular, likely due to some of its deserved reputation for bad rock and big runouts on the lower section. As a result, crowds are unlikely even on a busy weekend.
The looser and more runout climbing is mostly on 5.4-5.6 terrain with an occasional more difficult (up to 5.8) section. Be a solid 5.8 or 5.9 climber. Up higher on the route, the cruxes are well-protected on super solid rock, and you could easily pull through all the harder sections on gear.

The first one and a half pitches are fun and fairly well-protected on solid but often slightly sandy rock. Halfway through Pitch 2, the climbing eases, but the rock quality goes downhill, the route finding becomes less obvious, and protection becomes more and more scarce. Once you start up Pitch 5, the rock quickly improves. Two-thirds of the way up, the rock is as good as anything at Washington Pass. The fifth and crux pitch is long (185 feet) and is composed of sustained hand and finger jams on excellent rock. The fall is clean and with the abundance of available protection, this pitch would be a great place for climbers looking to break into the 5.10b grade. The final pitch starts with more of the same, but quickly eases and leads to a fun, exposed scramble up to the summit.

Most climbers leave their shoes and extra gear at the base where you will return.

Retreat Storm
There are no fixed anchors on this route, but it could be rappelled at any point using two ropes off of gear you would have to leave. The loose rock in the middle of the route and the lack of abundant solid protection make this a slightly scary undertaking.
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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff
Minuteman Tower - East Face III 5.10b - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
Minuteman Tower East Face
Photo: Mark Allen
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