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NikiY

[TR] East Wilmans Spire - Standard 06/24/2018

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Trip: East Wilmans Spire - Standard

Trip Date: 06/24/2018

Trip Report:

My friend Jean was looking for a partner to climb East Wilmans Spire. I had never heard of it so of course I was in. We left Seattle at 6am and arrived at the TH around 7:30 and we were off. The trail to Monte Cristo is pretty flat and the four miles flew by in a little over an hour.

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A little less than two hours after leaving Monte Cristo we could finally see our objective.

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The snow field is split by a rocky ridge. The left of the ridge looked like it might have continuous snow all the way to the notch, the right would definitely involve some talus. We opted to go right since we weren't sure if we could actually get over that ridge and didn't want to get cliffed out. Jean headed up first and decided to ascend straight to the talus/scree and hike up. However the scree proved to be extremely loose so we traversed left and ascended a thin sliver of snow as far as we could.

Once we were back on the snow the slope angle gradually increased and it was at this point I started to regret my gear choices. I had brought soft hiking boots and Petzl Irvis hybrid crampons (the kind with the dyneema cord). This combo proved to be too flexy for the snow conditions. Fortunately Jean had some real mountaineering boots and graciously led up the snow kicking pretty solid steps that I could follow.

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The snow just barely continued up to the notch. The notch itself was completely snow free and comprised of the same extremely loose talus we had encountered earlier. Once at the base of the climb we geared up and Jean took the first lead. This involved first climbing up some low fifth-class terrain, traversing, and then down climbing about 15 feet of loose 5.5, finally followed by another traverse over loose rock at which point rope drag dictated a belay. While following I was very thankful that Jean somehow managed to get 4 pieces of pro in that short section of down climbing (more gear than the rest of the climb combined!) which made the crumbly down climb feel really safe.

I took the next lead which zig-zagged left then right. The topo said "follow the obvious route" which of course was not obvious at all. I stopped at a decent stance which looked like it could have been the start of the third pitch and contemplated setting up an anchor. However further right looked much more promising so I committed to a thin traverse (probably only around 5.3, but felt significantly harder with all the rope drag) and found a comfortable belay spot beneath a splitter (relatively speaking) hand crack.

We swapped leads again and Jean got the privilege of leading the only real section of rock climbing on the entire route. Three hand jams, one cam and a 50 foot run out later and she was on the summit.

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On the way down I cut away at least six slings from one of the rappel anchor (and added one) and it was still a complete rats nest. PSA: if you are going to add a new sling to a rap anchor, cut at least one old sling away.

The descent was mostly uneventful other than slicing my leg open with my ice ax. Total gumby move.

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In total it took us about 11:30 hours car-to-car. Was it worth it? Yeah I guess so. It's an extremely cool feature that just begs to be climbed.

Gear Notes:
Cams to #2, nuts

Approach Notes:
The snow field is split by a rocky ridge/cliff. From the base you can't see if the left side is continuous or not, however from above you can see that it is possible to get through the cliff band (at least when there is enough snow).
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