Chianti Spire is the second (from the north) of four granite formations (plus one adjoining formation called Paisano Pinnacle) that make up a cluster known as the Wine Spires. The “cluster” forms a ridge trending SE to NW. At their northern terminus (at the foot of Burgundy’s north face) the spires are separated from Vasiliki Ridge by Burgundy Col. On the south side, a thin-looking ridge connects the Wines to the West Summit of Silver Star Mountain. Chianti’s summit is roughly equal in elevation to the nearby Burgundy Spire (within resolution of USGS maps, ~8400 feet) – shorter than Pernod and taller than Chablis. All routes up Chianti require 5th class rock climbing (easiest reported by Beckey is on the north face, II 5.6). Spire was first climbed by J. Hieb and A. Maki in 1952 (Beckey’s gang….though at the time Becky was FA-ing another Wine Spire).
Note that there are 2 versions of the route page for the most popular line on the formation, Rebel Yell (III 5.10). One is more adventurous, the other one is more anal. Take your pick.
Drive WA state highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) to Washington Pass (directions are easiest to give from there regardless of whether one's coming in from east or west). From Pass, drive 4 miles east on the highway to a wide pullout (there are several before) on the right (south) side of the highway (4250’).
Look for a steep and faint trail descending down (scree/boulders) towards Early Winters Creek (~300 feet below highway). Trail becomes more distinct at bottom. Follow the initially flat trail and cross the creek on a log. The trail quickly turns uphill and gains elevation quite efficiently. Next flat section (good camping and a water source) is at about 6400'.
West Side Routes:
Have not done any but I’d imagine your cross country adventure begins roughly here – at the wooded bench.
East Side Routes:
From there, your objective is the obvious Burgundy Col at 7950 feet. Hike up the trail which quickly peters out. Follow cairns up the loose gullies generally traversing right and up ending up in the main gully just below the Col (few bivy spots; year-round snow for water).
From Col, descend down (steep snow or loose rocks or moats - your pick) for about 200 to 300 feet until able to traverse (right) under the east face of Burgundy spire (year round snow with seasonal rock bands). East face of Chianti quickly comes into view and the start of Rebel Yell is fairly obvious - look for a wide crack in a dihedral near the right side of the east face (upper headwall OW cannot be mistakened).
Red TapeNone. NW Forest Pass is NOT required as you’re parking on the side of the state highway. Note that WA state highway 20 (North Cascades Highway) is closed from first snow till spring.
CampingNo permits required. Follow standard leave-no-trace rules. Good campsites (year-round spring provides water, look 200 yards north of trail) available at a wooded bench at ~6400 feet when approaching via standard approach described here. Few (2 or 3) bivy sites established at Burgundy Col at ~7950 feet (year round snow for water). Slogging bivy gear up the Col would be fun once snow free (trailhead ~4250 feet)…
External Links(1) Text-only TR.
(2) Nice TR with great pic's.
Mountain ConditionsWine Spires are located within Okanogan National Forest. Area is administered by Methow Valley Ranger District out of Winthrop, WA (509 996 2266).
Guidebooks(1) Selected Climbs In The North Cascades, Volume I (2nd ed.) by Jim Nelson and Peter Potterfield. Excellent description for Rebel Yell route only including topo. ISBN 0-89886-767-3.
(2) Cascade Alpine Guide, Volume 3 (2nd ed.) by Fred Beckey. Descriptions for all routes listed below. ISBN 0-89886-423-3.
Routes Overview(1) North Face (II 5.6). FA by J. Hieb and A. Maki in 1952 (?).
(2) Lichen Bouquet (II 5.9). FA by A. Kearney and M. Houston in 1989.
(3) Rebel Yell (III 5.10). FA by J. Nelson (of guidebook fame) and M. Bebie in 1986.
Search www.cascadeclimbers.com for new route development beta.