Southwest Couloir, South Early Winters Spire II 5.0 40º

   
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Washington Pass, Washington, USA

  • Currently 4.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 1-2 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 10
Height of route: 600'
Overview
The Southwest Couloir on South Early Winters Spire is one of the most moderate climbs in this book and is the easiest route in the Liberty Bell group. It is best done when there is snow all the way up the couloir and the chockstone near the bottom is completely covered. The Southwest Couloir has an excellent alpine ambiance. It feels like many bigger climbs in the range and is a great place for aspiring climbers to learn techniques and gain confidence.
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Route History
First climbed by Kennethn Adam, Raffi Bedayn, and W. Kenneth Davis in July, 1937. When this trio first hiked in the 16 miles, all the summits were still virgin. This group was part of the California Sierra Club and had considerable experience, including several longer climbs in Yosemite. Due to the loosely spaced lettering of the words “Liberty Bell” on their Forest Service map, the climbers didn’t know exactly which of the spires was Liberty Bell and thus picked the tallest, southern-most peak in the range. This decision was also made partially because all the other spires looked extremely difficult on all sides, so they opted to climb the non-technical Southwest Couloir. Their coveted first ascents upset a few locals who had been hoping to make the first ascent themselves; quickly pointing out that their “Yosemite training” had only got them up the only non-technical route in the Liberty Bell group. Adam, Davis, and Bedayn did also manage to make the first ascent of Cutthroat Peak via its technical and intimidating peak via its West Ridge on this same trip, a route that was rarely repeated until the highway was built.

Strategy
The Southwest Couloir on South Early Winters Spire is one of the most moderate in this book and the easiest route in the Liberty Bell group. Conditions are ideal when snow is covering the entire couloir, including the chockstone near the bottom. The snow should be firm or you will post-hole up to your hips all the way up the route. Crampons are generally required, but it is unusual that snow con...   [full history for SuperTopo members only!]

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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff
South Early Winters Spire - Southwest Couloir II 5.0 40º - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click to Enlarge
Kurt Hicks approaching the Southwest Couloir under typical early season conditions
Photo: Chris Kouba
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The soaring East Butress of South Early Winters Spire
South Early Winters Spire - Northwest Face III 5.11a - Washington Pass, Washington, USA. Click for details.
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The Northwest Face of South Early Winters Spire
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Less traveled section between Lexington and N.E.W.S. Rappel at far end of ledge in middle of photo.
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