Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Sep 6, 2009
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Summer

Trip Report

Baron SpireCamp
Baron SpireBaron Reflection
Southeast FaceP1
Baron SpireBaron Spire
Baron SpireApproach
Southeast FaceP2
Southeast FaceP2
Southeast FaceP2
Southeast FaceP2
Southeast FaceP3
Southeast FaceBeckey Ladder
Southeast FaceP4.5
Baron SpireBeckey Ladder
Baron SpireBeckey's Broken Drill Bit from 1949?
Baron SpireBeckey Ladder
Baron SpireSummit
Baron SpireSummit Views
Baron SpireDescent
Baron SpireBaron Lakes
Baron SpireBaron Lake

A quick, post-work, 9-hour push from Portland to Stanley, ID is topped off by a short night of sleep on the front seats of our Subaru. Blondie gets the primo spot in the trunk. Morning comes and though the sky is clear, the temps are low…ok, let’s get a coffee fix at Redfish Lodge first. Coffee turns into breakfast and we finally disembark the shuttle boat at the far side of Redfish Lake just an hour shy of noon. Various hikers we pass deliver news of incoming rain, snow and even fire-storms that are supposed to roll over the Sawtooths this Labor Day Weekend. Somewhere below Alpine Lake, we run into a nice ranger lady who threatens us with a ticket for not leashing our dog…though technically Blondie IS wearing a leash it’s just that the handle is in her backpack and not in my hand. I try to brown nose her by saying that at least we pick up and pack out all her shit. To this the ranger responds in an outraged voice: “I will NOT take her crap out for you!!” Uhhh – never mind. I am reminded of the scene from Borat. A clear miscommunication. The remainder of the 9-mile hike in goes quickly and though the sky is overcast, things are dry. We get our first view of Baron Spire at the pass above Baron Lakes. Very nice – a high five! Problem with an early arrival in camp is that there’s not much to do. Out of boredom we go through most of our two days worth of food in one sitting and hit the sack early. If we’re hungry after the climb tomorrow, we’ll be more motivated to hike out. At night, a thunderstorm rolls through and we wonder if our gamble to venture out to Idaho to escape the PacNW weather for Labor Day was the right call. By morning, however the skies are clear and sunny.

By 9 am on Sunday, we’re at the base of the Southeast Face of Baron Spire. Given that our free climbing season was shit this summer, we figured this (at 5.9 A0) would be a reasonable choice of route. The first pitch offers fun climbing on clean granite…well, until the very top when I have to garden through some wide section that is filled with thorny bushes. This would be a recurring theme on the lower 4 pitches – clean crack climbing interrupted by some short vegetated wide sections (probably route finding screw ups on my part). The second pitch offers a choice of a finger crack in dihedral or a wideness-to-hand crack further right. I choose the latter and enjoy the pitch tremendously. After four fun pitches of climbing we arrive at the unique summit block and scramble over to the west side. It is here that the somewhat famous “Beckey Ladder” from the 1949 FA offers the only established passage (A0) to the summit. Things go quickly and the last piece of the ladder is – I think – the 60 year old broken drill bit courtesy of Mr. Beckey. As the sky is clouding over and the wind is picking up, I do not linger long to examine it but use it to transition to free climbing…very fun free climbing all the way to the summit (best pitch IMHO)! Shirley juggs the pitch. We sign the rain soaked summit log sheet a bit disappointed that it’s a brand new register (with the previous and only summit entry put up in ’08 by folks working new routes on the west face) and start the raps. Somewhere along the way, we cannot find additional rap stations and have to roll our own. I screw up and we end up with a few “bonus” rappels and then have to scramble back up to base of route to retrieve our dog and packs. Despite the dire predictions, the weather is essentially perfect all day.

We head back to camp, cook what little we have left of our food and hit the sack. The night is chilly and Blondie migrates from the vestibule and into the tent. Squished together like sardines, we wake up at first light, hike out and catch the noon shuttle boat back across Redfish Lake. Drive home goes quickly with another captivating Hieronymus Bosch audio novel. A great weekend in Idaho.

Thanks to Sean for sharing the beta for this formation!

SE Face

Baron SpireSE Face III 5.9 A0


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-14 of 14

Deltaoperator17 - Sep 8, 2009 3:29 pm - Voted 10/10


Sounded like a quick trip, mean ol ranger lady huh? LOL


rpc - Sep 8, 2009 4:10 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice

thanks Steve.
She was cool actually & let us go with a smile at the end of it (I actually felt bad that she thought I aksed her about the transport... :)

vancouver islander

vancouver islander - Sep 8, 2009 6:32 pm - Voted 10/10

Very nice - high 5!

for (Sascha) Baron Spire. Nasty ranger lady but preferable to number one prostitute in all Khazakstan :)


rpc - Sep 8, 2009 6:50 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Very nice - high 5!

heheheehh - thanks Martin.
I think I need to re-write that section as the ranger WAS cool actually & it was me who was at fault. The other part was just a sort of funny misunderstanding. Appreciate the visit (& the laugh!). Cheers.


SawtoothSean - Sep 8, 2009 8:01 pm - Voted 10/10

Good TR

Nice write up and pics! I've seen 1 ranger in 300 trips in the Sawtooths- so I'm declaring unlucky for you to meet one. You were probably still on route most of the time even when you ran into vegetation. I just don't think it gets done more than 1 or 2 times per year, plus there's other routes leading the the bolt ladder. What condition were the bolts in? Did you just use etriers and biners, or did you have to actually place anything in the rock?


rpc - Sep 8, 2009 8:12 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Good TR

Hi Sean,

First, many thanks for sharing the topo & your great beta on this formation/line. Great stuff! Figured on the ranger luck but like I mentioned above, she was a very cool gal who was not offended by the misunderstanding (..again, my fault).

I've sent you a pm on the questions you mention. Let me know if you want any other info.

Appreciate the kind word & the visit! Take care.


McCannster - Sep 22, 2009 12:20 am - Voted 10/10

Nice Radek

Cool. Always wanted to see what the summit block of this thing looked like.


rpc - Sep 22, 2009 11:55 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice Radek

Thanks man - I'm looking forward to your Shiprock TR :)


WoundedKnee - Oct 8, 2009 1:49 pm - Hasn't voted

You two sure get after it.

I'd love to return to the Sawtooths one day. Nice TR!


rpc - Oct 8, 2009 6:50 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: You two sure get after it.

thank you much Sir :)
looks like you too don't sit at home too much eh? Warbonnet done from NC is a much bigger deal IMHO! Very cool (& you got some nice shots from it). My hope is to check out your neck of th woods -- scare myself sh..less on that runout NC granite someday. Cheers!


WoundedKnee - Oct 9, 2009 9:45 am - Hasn't voted

Re: You two sure get after it.

NC might be a nice change of pace for you. Based on your track record, I'm guessing you and Shirley will climb something here on a four day round trip road trip...


rpc - Oct 9, 2009 12:59 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: You two sure get after it.

You Sir are too kind with your lavish praises ;)

So you think the climbable seasons info. as suggested by that NC Rock book is accurate? In other words, what are the chances of getting in some climbing around New Years if we follow book's recommends? I know - a loaded question - but figured I'd try. Thanks!


WoundedKnee - Oct 9, 2009 1:46 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: You two sure get after it.

Usually the weather's acceptable, but it can get bleedin' cold here in the winter. There's even some ice climbing to be had from time to time. There are a lot of places with south facing walls. Best possibilities include Stone Mountain (the runout granite you refer to), Looking Glass (probably the most famous) or Rumbling Bald. I've been to Stone in February and am heading to Looking Glass in late November. If you can handle cold weather most likely you'll be good to go...unless it rains...the runouts on Stone would be NO FUN in wet weather.


rpc - Oct 9, 2009 2:03 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: You two sure get after it.

thank you very much! appreciate the on-the-ground info :)

Viewing: 1-14 of 14



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