Labor Pains, North Early Winters Spire III 5.11a
Avg time to climb route: 2.5-5 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 6
Height of route: 600'
OverviewLabor Pains is a slightly obscure, fun, and burly route. With mostly sound rock, it is a notch up in difficulty and commitment from the West Face. While the hardest moves on Labor Pains are not as hard as the most difficult sections of the Hitch Hiker, they’re far more committing and the gear is trickier. The rock on the first crux on Pitch 2 is slightly grainy but never poor. The moves are consistently challenging and the protection is engaging. The upper pitches follow a mix of splitter cracks and face climbing on excellent rock. Its spectacular position only adds to the quality of this climb.
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Route HistoryHusband and wife climbing partners Steve Risse and Donna McBain made the first ascent in September of 1988. Not much is know about their ascent. McBrain was an outstanding rock climber and was an early stalwart member of Women Climbers Northwest. She worked for quite a few years for the Trust For Public Land and was instrumental in the acquisition of Peshastin Pinnacles as a state park. Dr. Steve Risse from Seattle was famous for many first ascents in the area, including the notorious Tooth and Claw. Unfortunately, Risse perished along with his friends, Mark Bebie and Tom Waasdorp, while hit by an avalanche caused by falling ice on March 20, 1993, while attempting Slipstream on Snow Dome in the Canadian Rockies.
StrategyCrowds are unlikely even on a busy weekend. This route is certainly a step up in difficulty from the West Face with harder cruxes and climbing that is both more sustained and less straightforward. Labor Pains has some difficult, delicate, and technical sections, as well as some burly and thuggy sections. The hardest sections aren’t necessarily runout, but you can’t pull through most cruxes on gear. Climbers attempting this route should be solid at the grade.
The route starts up the Chockstone Route, before going up and left trending toward a shallow right-facing corner that marks the start of Pitch 2. This pitch is sustained and pumpy mid-5.10 climbing with a handful of 5.11a moves thrown
in near the top. Despite much the pitch climbing a thin crack, be sure to bring a 4” piece to the rack for this pitch; you’ll be grateful. Getting solid gear on this... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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