The Watchtower is located about 1 1/2 miles southwest of Tokapah Falls at the head of Tokapah Valley. From the Lodgepole campground, follow the Tokapah Valley trail to near its end in the vicinity of Tokapah Falls. Head south, crossing the river where practical and head up steep slabs ( and snow in early season ). Climb up past the large right facing open book on the Watchtower ( the " All Along The Watchtower " route ) to the Northeast Arete. A small campsite ( with water in early season ) can be found near the base of the route.
This excellent classic climb was first done by Galen Rowell and Greg Henzie, Labor Day, 1970. It has been called both the " Rowell Route " and the " Northeast Arete" route.
Starting left of the large right facing open book, head up 3rd class until difficulties begin. A 165' pitch of easy aid ( A2 ) and free ( 5.6 ) lead up a crack past a fixed pin and a flake to a stance. Pitch 2: continue aid climbing up the crack ( some A3 ) to a sling belay at a bolt. A short mixed free and aid pitch leads to ledges. Pitch 4: a wandering mixed aid and free pitch ( 5.8, A3 ) follows flakes, cracks and face to a stance 130' higher. Pitch 5: another difficult pitch ( 5.8, A3+ ) follows face, aid from tiny horns and finally free climbing to a ledge. Pitch 6: 4th class followed by an aid move leads to free climbing up a gully ( loose - use care ) - 195'+. If using 165' ropes, move the belay up 25' to a big ledge. Pitch 7: a couple of aid moves in a corner leads to a ramp and 3rd class near the top of the Watchtower ( 150' ).
Walk off to the Heather Lake trail which is followed back to the Lodgepole campground.
Much of this route could probably be free climbed at 5.11 - 5.12.
In 1983 we used the following - 4 knife blades, 12 Lost Arrows, angle pitons - 3 each 1/2" - 5/8", 4 each 3/4" - 1", 3 - 1 1/4" and 2 - 1 1/2" pitons, 1 skyhook, 20 stoppers # 3 - 12 and 2 sets of Friends. No doubt a lot of the pins ( most ? ) can be replaced with tiny cam units, cam hooks and small offset brass nuts not available then. Hammocks may come in handy.
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