Flycatcher Buttress, North Early Winters Spire IV 5.10b

   
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Washington Pass, Washington, USA

  • Currently 3.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 4-8 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 11
Height of route: 800'
Overview
The Flycatcher Buttress on North Early Winters Spire (NEWS) is the least popular of all the East Face routes. This is due to a lack of information more than a lack of quality climbing. The last accurate topo was available in Bryan Burdo’s Kinko’s- made guide book in the mid-90s. Fred Beckey’s guide still shows the original 1965 aid route. This relatively moderate route is worth a look and certainly deserves greater popularity. At first look, The Flycatcher is big and looks more intimidating than elegant. A closer look shows it to be an adventurous outing on mostly solid rock with amazing position and quite a few quality pitches. The difficulty is comparable to the Direct East Buttress on South Early Winters Spire. The DEB is cleaner, the route finding a little more straightforward, and the difficulties more sustained while The Flycatcher sports slightly more challenging individual moves.
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Route History
The Flycatcher was first climbed in July on 1965 by Washington Pass pioneers Steve Marts, Don McPherson, and King McPherson. They spent quite a few days on the face, and the first ascent was done mostly on aid.

With stories of loose aid up to A3 and difficult route finding, the route soon faded into obscurity. Then in 1990, it came to the attention of Washington’s second most prolific route developer, Bryan Burdo. He had been free soloing several different routes in the area all summer. He examined the east buttress, eying the features on the face, not even knowing exactly where the 1965 route went. Burdo was inspired by some of the routes John Bachar put up in California, onsight, ropless, with only a chalk bag and a tooth brush for scrubbing holds. This was certainly one of the boldest and proudest ways to establish a first ascent. Burdo left the ground under sunny skies with only a chalk bag, a tooth brush, and the T-shirt on is back, telling himself he could just down climb if things went bad. As he climbed higher, the sky grew darker. About halfway up, Burdo pulled a roof that he wasn’t sure he could reverse. The wind picked up and he felt the occasional drop of rain, but with no gear and no rope, he was committed to making it to the top. He found a dead flycatcher – a small bird that hunts insects – near the summit and wondered if this was a bad omen. Less than 200 feet from the top with thunder in the distance, he ran into a section he couldn’t get around. He tried several ways out to the right but nothing went. Burdo recalls that at this point, he started to get a little worried. Then he noticed a crack system up and to the left that looked as if it might go. Not only did it go, it turned out to be fantastic climbing. He quickly topped out, and as he down climbed the chockstone gully it began to hail violently. Relieved to have survived the experience, he didn’t onsite solo again for some time.<...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff
North Early Winters Spire - Flycatcher Buttress IV 5.10b - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
The East Buttress’s of South and North Early Winters
Photo: Ian Nicholson
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North Early Winter Spire - Blue Bradley follows Pitch 6 of the Chockstone Route
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