West Ridge, Paisano Pinnacle III 5.9-
Avg time to climb route: 3-6 hours
Approach time: 2.5-5 hours
Descent time: 2.5-5 hours
Number of pitches: N/A
Height of route: 600'
OverviewOften overlooked because it appears much shorter than the rest of its fellow Wine Spires, this is without a doubt a relatively long and worthy outing. The West Ridge of Paisano Pinnacle is a classic of the range, one of the better 5.9s in the state. When combined with the North Face of Burgundy Spire, it makes an incredible 13-pitch IV outing in the 5.8+/5.9 range. Paisano has exceptional rock, even in an area know for its solid granite. The West Ridge is more “splitter” than most other routes in the range featuring many excellent cracks.
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Route HistoryThe route was first climbed by Carla Firey and Jim McCarthy in September of 1971. Not much else is known about their ascent.
StrategyUnlike the South West Rib of South Early Winters Spire, which only has two short 5.8 cruxes, Paisano is far more sustained, with more than half of its pitches at 5.8. But all pitches are well-protected, and with the exception of the final 15 feet of the route on Pitch 8, you could pull on gear if necessary.
While not as crowed as many of the popular routes in the Liberty Bell group, the Piasano-Burgundy link-up is the most popular route(s) in the Wine Spires, so you’ll probably see another party on busy weekend. Passing isn’t easy except on the 2nd and 5th pitches, although nearly every belay has a large ledge where it would be possible to pass.
If you’re planning on doing the link-up and find yourself topping out Paisano too late in the day, simply make the short down climb and rappel down to Burgundy Col.
The approach to the West Ridge starts off easy enough on a good trail heading toward Burgundy Col. At 7,650 feet, traverse down toward the start of the route. This section is a little sketchy across a steep gully on firm dirt. The start of the route can be difficult to find and unobvious, so study the topo and the photos to get a good idea of where you are going before you begin.
The first two pitches are a mix of tree battling and quality climbing on solid rock. Some climbers find Pitch 1 to be a sting in the tail. After the first two pitches, the route finding is much easier. Once on Pitch 3, the route is awesome with sustained 5.7-5.8 crack climbing on excellent rock. The cruxes of the route are on Pitches 4 and 5. Pitch 4 is deceptively steep with a slightly awkward pair of double cracks. The climbing isn’t straightforward and climbers challenged at the grade might find this pitch pumpy. There is some good rest, so figure out the next series of moves before launching into the unknown. You can pull through the hardest sections on gear.
Pitch 5 has three options but is still the most difficult. Option 1 has the greatest amount of fun climbing but involves a short and funky 4th class traverse. You also need to be more aware of rope drag on this option, and occasionally climbers will move the belay across this exposed slab. Option 2 is the most straightforward. It starts o... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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