IntroductionThe Red Baron Tower (III, 5.10) is the westernmost route on the wall that forms the incredibly long south face of Lone Pine Peak. The Tower appears to be on the Lone Pine Peak wall but a watershed divides it from Lone Pine on the summit plateau. Its peak is known as Peak 12,960+ or Peak 13,016 depending on the map and book. The reddish summit of the 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 this route in a right facing dihedral system in 1972, calling it Red Baron Tower (III, 5.7 A2). Pat Brennan and Bruce Bindner freed the Beckey-Hagen route on the tower in 1996 and rated it 5.10.
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.
On the same formation as the Red Baron Tower and just to the right is a huge chimney/corner system. This obvious corner is the Milktoast Chimney (III, 5.8).
Route DescriptionHere is some detail of the climb. There is a good topo in Moynier- Climbing California’s High Sierra.
The climb is stout but protects well at the cruxes. The second, third and sixth pitches are especially good.
Approach the base of the Tower. Scramble up to the start at the base below the huge right facing corner. This is also the start of the Milktoast Chimney. 1. Begin up the chimney and traverse left to a platform below the red roofs (5.8, 100 ft.). 2. Traverse left under the roof (run it out to prevent rope drag) and continue up the right corner to a 1 1/2 ft. wide ledge (5.9+, 160’). 3. Continue up then right under a roof, exiting then up to another ledge (5.10, 165’). 4. Climb the runout face/corner to platform (5.8, 160 ft.). 5. More of the corner crack to a big platform (5.9, 160 ft.). 6. Straight up the corner to a pinnacle (5.8, 160 ft.). 7. Up to a ledge, right for 30 ft. then up and left for 40 ft. (5.8, 100 ft.). 8. Up the final right corner (5.8, 100 ft.).
To descend, traverse along the top of the tower to the wall. Continue 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 two sets of tcu’s from 00, set of nuts, friends to #4, and hexes. A full 50M rope is also needed. Five of the pitches are 160-165 ft. A 60M rope does not gain a better ledge and has a weight penalty.
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