West Face, North Early Winters Spire III 5.11a or 5.10a C1
Avg time to climb route: 1-3 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 6
Height of route: 300'
OverviewOne of the best climbs at Washington Pass, the West Face of North Early Winters Spire is worth doing for the pure of quality of movement on clean, solid granite. This is a great route for climbers attempting to break into the 5.11a grade or for 5.10a climbers to practice basic aid skills in a wild alpine setting. The first two pitches, which are on slightly grainy granite, are shared with the Northwest Corner. However, above Pitch 2 the rock quality is superb.
The West Face and the Northwest Corner are two of the more popular routes in the area and because they share the first couple pitches you can run into traffic problems on busy weekend. Despite the Northwest Cornerís and the West Faceís close proximity, each route has a distinctly different character Ė The Northwest Corner is a thuggish fight, while the West Face is a technical dance that favors balance over brawn.
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Route HistoryThe West Face was first climbed by Fred Beckey and Dave Beckstaed in June of 1965. Highway 20 was in early construction, and the pair was forced to hike 16 miles up the Early Winters Creek trail. Beckey eyed the line and enlisted Becksead to help him. Once on the West Face, they found the climbing sustained and difficult, and resorted to aid on most of the middle and upper sections. When Beckey and Beckstaed first climbed the West Face, the route was very dirty and they had to vigorously clean out cracks for gear and hand holds. Itís hard to believe how dirty the route could have once been with how clean the West Face is now, pearly white granite buffed from thousands of ascents. During the first ascent Fred Becky and Dave Beckstead put in what is now a protection bolt on Pitch 4 for a short pendulum. After the first ascent, West Face saw few repeats. It wasnít until the early 1980s that the route began to see more traffic. With greater use, the route cleaned up, and Washington hard men Steve Risse and Dave Tower made the first frees ascent in July of 1985.
StrategyNearly as popular as the Northwest Corner, the West Face is one of the most climbed 5.11a routes in Washington State.
There are three different ways to climb the West Faceóas a mostly fun and well- protected 5.9-5.10a climb with just one C1 pitch, as a mid-5.10 route with just 10 feet of AO climbing, or as an all free 5.11a route with a short crux, a clean fall and great gear. The first two pitches are slightly gravely, but above the big ledge, the route becomes one of the cleanest and most solid at Washington Pass.
You can link the first two pitches if you... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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