IntroductionThe south face of Lone Pine Peak is an incredibly long wall. It is actually made up of two mountains, Lone Pine Peak, and farther up the canyon, Peak 12,960+. The farthest formation on the wall is the Red Baron Tower, on Peak 12,960+. The reddish summit of the Red Baron Tower is seen as a very flat platform part way up the skyline when viewed from the Stone House Ashrama. It’s a lot longer to get to the climb than it appears from the Stone House.
Fred Beckey and Barry Hagen climbed a route in1972 calling it Red Baron Tower. It’s now also the name of the formation. On this same formation and just to the right of the Red Baron Tower route is a huge chimney/corner system. This obvious corner is the Milktoast Chimney (III, 5.8), first climbed by Craig Harris and Bruce Bindner in 1997.
ApproachFrom the Stone House, going cross-country, contour along the south side of the canyon, not descending too far down. When a rock wall is apparent and above on the south side, continue up to this wall then diagonal up. High in the canyon, cross the boulder field. Cross the north fork of Tuttle Creek just above where the South Gulley route enters the canyon. The way has been cairned and it is preferable to stay high rather than deal with the brush lower down. Continue up onto a plateau with huge trees that lies near the Zig Zag Dihedral on Peak 12,960+. There is great camping here and a flowing stream. Its four hours to the camping area and another hour further up to the base of the climb.
Route DescriptionHere is some detail of the climb. There is a good topo in Moynier- Climbing California’s High Sierra, and at this site.
Approach the base of the Tower. Scramble up to the start at the base below the huge right facing corner.
The first five pitches of the Milktoast Chimney climbs the corner using a little bit of every climbing technique- crack, lie back, full body chimney, and face sections. The route description is very easy- straight up. The first pitch is to just under the first roof. The second pitch starts out with runout through the crux ending in a big chimney. The third climbs through roofs and chimneys to another ledge. The fourth is up another chimney. 5. Face climbing leads into yet another chimney. Belay on a ledge after the final crux. Up onto a sandy slope, then move the belay into the base of the chimney. Two more pitches in a big chimney and finish on the top of the Red Baron Tower formation. Each belay is at a big comfy ledge.
To descend, traverse past the gulley on the left and descend into the next gulley for a short distance. Do not continue down this gulley. Traverse left, and descend gradually on ledges toward a large buttress that will become visible after a short while. Descend into the flat canyon just before the buttress. There may be water flowing in this part of the canyon as you continue your descent.
Essential GearYou will need a set of tcu’s from 00, set of nuts, Camalots to #4, and hexes. A 50M rope is needed. A 60M rope does not gain a better ledge and has a weight penalty.
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