SW Gully Upper South Ridge

Page Type
Washington, United States, North America
Route Type:
Technical Rock Climb
Time Required:
One to two days

Route Quality: 1 Votes

3145 Hits
71.06% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
SW Gully Upper South Ridge
Created On: Oct 6, 2004
Last Edited On: Oct 6, 2004


Approach from the Rainy Pass PCNST trailhead. The trail goes up gently through evergreen forest and eventually becomes sparse larches with nice views into the Porcupine basin before reaching Cutthroat Pass. From the pass contiune on PCNST northeasterly as it offers great views of Silverstar, Cutthroat and Liberty Bell area. The trail then drops down to Granite Pass at 6300 feet via many switchbacks. At this point you will see an imposing view of Tower Mountain. The beatiful u-shaped Swamp Creek valley will be on your left all the time until you get to the a horse camp before Mt Hardy. Here a distinct trail will split to the right from PCNST leading to the Snowy Lakes from where the peak can be climbed. Camping at the lower Snowy Lake is closer to Tower Mountain. The approach distance is approximately 10 miles.

(A direct bushwhacking approach from the Swamp creek basin is also possible and is about 3 miles for the more adventurous)

Route Description

Due to the large number of gullies on the west side of the mountain, route finding can be confusing. From the lower Snowy Lake first cross a loose scree field and climb the steep heather to get to the basin west of Tower. Then contour the talus field on the west side of Tower until you hit the southwest ridge. Climb straight up by staying on the ridge top to avoid couple lower gullies. There is a gully from the talus field going directly up to the SW ridge, which can be used on the descent but it can be too tedious for climbing. Go higher on the ridge until you reach the ridge top at the base of rock cliffs. At this point you will need to start traversing to your right (south) and you can see three distinct large gullies. The southwest gully is the farthest one. Negotiate the loose scree of each gully until you get to the broad SW gully. The gully starts class 2-3 and has loose rocks. Midway up the gully there is a steep class-4 step consisting of smooth but clean rock. Continue up to the ridge crest. 200 below the summit you will get to a flat belay legde and will see the open book crack next to a 60 degree slab which is the 60 feet 5.6 section of the climb. The crack gets wider as you go up and at the end of the crack you need to turn left higher around a block, which is the hardest move. This will bring you to a stand where you can belay your team up. There is a lot of loose stuff here so be careful not to kick rocks down. The rest of the climb is a class-3 scramble to the summit over larger blocks. The summit is marked with a 7-foot giant cairn, can't miss it.

Rappel down from a large block on the SW side below the summit. Placed two new long webbings (10/04) for the rappel. Climb down the rest the way you came.

Essential Gear

Helmet, harness, at least a 50m rope, cams to 2.5 inches and few nuts on the larger sizes. No need for hexes as the crack is almost parallel.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.