Central Tower - South Rib

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 44.07810°N / 115.0507°W
Additional Information Route Type: Technical Rock
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: 5.9 R
Sign the Climber's Log


From Upper Bead Lake traverse the talus field to the North, heading NW, and slowly gaining altitude to the base of several gravel chutes.

CAUTION! Wear a helmet!

At a cairn (just before two small trees) scramble up into a gully (3rd) for 50-60' then traverse over to the right onto a rocky spur (3rd). This avoids some of the looser sections in the gully. Continue the easy,blocky scrambling up the spur to a lower angle sandy section. Continue up and left (NW) for 30-40', noting a climbable breach in the next spur on the left. Traverse to this spur and scramble up to its top (3rd/easy 4th). Scramble up along the spur for another 30-40', until it becomes easier (feasible) to climb into the next chute to the left (3rd/easy 4th). This narrow chute is marked by its step-like, black rock (intrusion), which makes for fast vertical gain, but poses a serious bowling alley threat! At the top of the chute look to the left (W) to see the base of the climb (large corner with short rounded overhanging left face and less than vertical right face).

Route Description

This is a true backcountry route (infrequently done, solitude, loose rock) in a spectacular setting.

P1 - start on the right face of a large corner at the base of Cirque Lake Peak. There are several options initially, but all involve stiff 5.8 or harder climbing with some vegitation. This pitch is quite awkward in the middle and upper sections (dirty and a bit flaring). Climb to a spot where the right crack converges with the corner or just below to set up the first belay (gear).

P2 - climb up and through the chimney, which is easy 5.7 due to nice edges on the West side (recommend right side in, rack on left, tow pack). There is a nice jug and a small tree to help with the exit moves. Continue up on much easier terrain to a large tree to set up the second belay.

P3 - Continue up in a relatively low angle corner right next to the rib (the left -hand low angle corner is another alternative, but may take you too high). Climb to a medium tree and belay (note there is a set of bigger trees about 20' above).

P4 - Do NOT continue in the corner to the next set of trees, but climb up on the rib (5.5) to some blocks (watch for rope drag). You should be able to see the other side (East) of the rib/arete for the first time (it took us hours to figure out where to cross the rib). Continue up a 4" narrowing, low angle crack on the crest of the arete and pass a small tree. Climb the tapering crack to the end, then climb down and across on the East face (right side) of the rib (solid 5.9, watch for rope drag and pendulum for the second) to another corner. Climb up this corner (some vegitation) to a nice stance (approx. 35', at the belay there are some precarious blocks a few feet to your right and a chimney and a couple of distinct roofs above). Gear belay.

P5 - this pitch is long with a runout/poor pro section in the middle. Continue up the corner for a few feet and enter the bottom of the chimney. Climb out of the chimney to the right, traversing under the first roof. Pass the second roof on the right and continue up (approx. 40'+) on the right hand edge of the rib (R/poor pro) to a hidden crack, which actually faces East. Step out on the East face to enter the crack (solid 2" in back). Take the crack up to some precarious blocks (poor belay option) and continue up in a shallow corner on the left of the blocks. Take the crack/corner to its end (approx. 25') and step across the face (5.6) to another crack on the right and a belay stance (gear belay).

P6 - continue up the low angle, widening (3-5") crackthrough an awkward (5.7) section to its end (you can look down into the chasm to the North at this point). Scramble up a short, broken, vertical section and traverse to the left for a few feet, then downclimb 5' to a notch. Gear belay.

P7 - Climb the obvious crack at the belay for 20', then traverse right for 20', then continue up near the right side of the rib. Gear belay.

P8 - Climb up to some blocks, then down into a notch. The rock looks very fractured around here. Climb up (easy 5th on poor rock), heading for a large block. Climb around the block to the left, then climb out of a small trough and move on top of a flat area. Walk 10' NW and look down into the notch. It is possible to downclimb this section (watch rope drag, consider safety of the second). Tree belay.

P9 - We didn't climb this pitch due to impending darkness, a slight drizzle, and distant thunderstorms to the North. The climbing from here on looks to be easy 5th class on broken rock. The summit views should be spectacular.

Descent - we rappelled the West gully EIGHT times (using a single 200' rope) in order to get from the notch to safer ground. It may be more favorable to use two ropes and descend to the East, retracing the approach at a later point, however we did not try this.

Essential Gear

Rack: full set of nuts (some dbl.), full set of cams to #3 Camalot (including dbl. #.75, #1, #2); many slings (13), including several dbl. runners. 1/2 and 3/4 Aliens recommended. Offset friends (med.) useful on first pitch.

Miscellaneous Info

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