Snow Creek Wall abounds with excellent multipitch wall climbs, each a full, satisfying meal for any climber hungry for granite. April Fools Tower is not so much a meal, as a confection. Gone too soon, but pure heaven while it lasts.
used to be bigger. What we call April Fools Tower is really two
flakes and a sliver standing on end, all propping each other up. The
large, flat ledge they stand on and the color of the faces that
overhang the ledge make it obvious that something is missing. There
must have been a central pillar that somehow toppled from the ledge.
What remains is light, warm, and airy – like a good meringue.
It's also solid, protectible, exposed 5.8 climbing. But don't put it
off too long.
My description here is for the easiest route up the tower. There's also a longer, harder route, Tarkus (II, 5.9), that begins at the outside base and climbs straight up the outside.
the Snow Creek Wall main page for the approach up and from the Snow
Creek Trail. You'll see the tower before the trail reaches the wall.
When you reach the base of the wall, turn right and follow the trail
along the base northward. Two towers are apparent; the nearer one is
Easter (routes at 5.0 and harder). April Fools can be approached from
either side. Both ways are a little technical; I prefer passing under
April Fools to the edge of the woods. There's a mediocre trail here,
going straight up the hill – it's the main descent route from
the climbs on the north half of the Wall. When you're about even with
the notch, traverse to it (class 3, if I recall). The notch is partly
filled with the blocky remains of the missing part of April Fools
Tower, I guess. The blocks give easy access up to the big ledge the
tower stands on. It's hard to resist stepping up to check out such a
roomy, flat ledge, but the route starts below it, around the left
Approaching from between the two towers involves scrambling up a series of ledges and a squeeze around or under a boulder. It's exposed enough that I've roped for it sometimes.
If you're planning a climb of one of the longer routes on the N end of the Wall (Champagne is a fun 5.7 intro to SCW climbing.), consider a short detour on the way down for April Fools. Call it dessert.
From the notch between the tower and the wall, go around the left side of the base, below the ledge. (See this photo and its caption.) Look for a step down to narrow ledges that lead out around the N side of the tower. Rope up and venture out. It's low class 5 with good chock placements. Climb up onto the ledge on the outside of the tower (east side) and belay at the base of a little chimney that splits the outside.
Traverse around base.
Down from the top. The belay stance isn't the most comfortable, but it's secure.
The second and final pitch is only 60 feet or so, but begins about 200 steep feet above the base of the tower on this side. The chimney quickly fills in to become a double crack of fine, clean, hands-and-toes size. As the angle eases, the belay ledge disappears below you and increases the feeling of exposure. The right-hand crack turns out to be the division between that central splinter and the left (S) flake. When the flake ends, swing right onto the splinter to finish.
The top is a rounded chisel a little more than shoulder width. The belay platform slopes down toward the wall and isn't especially comfortable (see photo), but it has the requisite 2-bolt anchor and rappel slings. The beginning of the rappel is a bit awkward going over the edge.
rap is at most 60 feet, all free-hanging. As you slowly turn in the
air, there are times when you look past your feet, and it appears
you're suspended above the valley floor, a few hundred feet below.
Actually, you land smack in the middle of that big dance platform of
a ledge. Walk off and down the way you came.
Bring a smile or collect one on the climb. Also bring your standard trad rack with nuts to 2 inches. The last pro is an old bolt on the splinter – I enjoyed having a longer sling over the horn just below as a backup. After the spring snow melts, there is no water beyond the crossing of Snow Creek, a few hundred feet below.