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[TR] Burgundy Spire- F.A. Action Potential. East Face Burgundy Spire 7/19/2004


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Climb: Burgundy Spire-F.A. Action Potential. East Face Burgundy Spire


Date of Climb: 7/19/2004


Trip Report:

7/18-7/20 2004. Mark Allen & Mike Layton.


"Action Potential" 1st ascent of Burgundy Spire's East Face. Grade III, 5.10a-5.10c, 5-7pitches. Seagram's Five-Star.


Action Potential: an electrical event along nerve; a wave of rapid depolarization, or a "firing" of a nerve impulse.


Mark and I had both spotted the line on separate trips over a year ago. It sat heavy in the back of our minds until after a rather heft spay-down, we both mentioned the potential for a route on the maybe unclimbed east face of Burgandy Spire. Well the last three days we acted on it...


Day 1:


I knew we were off to a rough start. Mosquitoes tried to make roost in my ear hole as my 5am alarm went off. The taste of stale tobacco and cheap beer kept my mouth sealed from the agonizing groan, the realization that I had some work to do that day. Two and a half hours of sleep. We were going to pay for last night's debauchery. Luckily the chickens provided us with eggs, and strong cups of cowboy coffee churned our bowels.


The 1st hour of the slog up Burgundy Col was an exercise in will-power. The accelerated blood flow through my liver speeded filtration, but pushed the chemicals deeper into my brain. As the last ounce of last night's fun left my system, we crested the col and blasted down to the east face of burgundy.


It had been two or three years since I had been under the east faces of the wine spires to do chianti, so I had no memory of what the east face of Burgandy looked like up close. All I had we blurry photos taken from trips up the Vasiliki ridge the two previous years. Would there be cracks? Or would there be compact granite seams of overlapping roofs and death blocks as usually is the case? Dragons? A moat Troll? The sky was laden with rain and despair.


Lo and behold! The fist part of the mountain was SPLITTER WHITE BUGABOO GRANITE!!! And legs that went all the way up! Heck Yeah! We did the old ro-sham-bow(sp?) and I got the 1st pitch! A 5.8 handcrack flake soared up to a weird off-width-like roof. There was gear! To my left a long layback with some lichen, to my right a spooky hand traverse into an a-cheval. Then it started to rain. I'll take the way with bomber hands and go right, I thought. Fun as hell! Natural belay spot at about 30 meters.


Mark came up and it stopped raining. Good. Keep going. This lead took quite some time to credit Mark's will-power and routefinding tenacity. There was a blank looking slab to a blank looking headwall, to a blank looking ramp, to another blank looking overhang. Gonna get shut down. Mark went to go take a look. "Dude, this slab has a PERFECT 5.7 fingercrack up the center," "Dude the headwall had a fingercrack with positive holds" "Dude the ramp has a fingercrack in it" "Dude the headwall has a long steep fingercrack" Everything had a fingercrack! By the time Mark got to the overhang/headwall fingercrack it started to rain. The key slabs for feet were covered in a black lichen carpet. He began to aid, and just as he reached for his 1st free move CRACK-POW. Thunder and lightning overhead.


We rapped off and headed home. Much debauchery with special guest Eric, SpecialEd and Lunger. It dumped rain all night long and into the morning. We ate much bacon that morning before we headed back up the pass (AGAIN) this time with overnight gear, dark skies, and a 1:30pm start.


Day 2:


At the pass by 3:30. Started the climb (AGAIN) by 4:30. We were a little late. We swapped leads so Mark could enjoy the 1st pitch and I could free the 2nd pitch. Mark went up the layback instead of the handtraverse and continued up the headwall and slab to below the 5.10 fingercrack. A FULL pitch of 5.9 (about 3 5.9 cruxes) to a semi-hanging belay. Future parties should split this up, we were in a hurry. I tacked the lichen fingercrack. My body needed to pull one way, with the crack jammed the other. No feet. Gotta scrub this. Some scrubbing and sequencing got us up the crux to insecure handjams. I continued up a handcrack covered in lichen (5.8) to these WILD system of flakes. You can see them from the ground. Huge fingers of rock pointed wildly into the east. There were several of these overlapping flakes creating a wildly exposed and fun jug haul to a major ledge system. There I found a very old looking fixed hex. Shit! The route had been done! Wait....I looked down to my left and saw a 4th class scree ledge system that led to my stance. Must've been an exploratory pitch cuz no-one had been the way we came, and very doubtful that they continued up. This was the only piece of fixed pro on the whole route. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure I'm not. This 2nd pitch was also a very long 55 meter pitch.


Mark's next 80 meter (simul) pitch took us 1/2 way up the massive corner system that splits the upper face. It was the MOST fun in a chimney (except epinepherine of course) I've ever had. as characterized on this route and the variations every time you needed a foot, one appeared, everytime the hands got to thin, there was a hold, sidepull, or undercling. What a blast! My pitch started of a big mungy with a couple interesting moss mushroom, but after a few pieces, it got stellar again and I stemmed and chimneyed and face climbed up the corner to the big split at the top. I took the right hand chimney (fun) b/c the left looked quite hard. Now we were on the huge ledge just below the summit. Mark finished the mountain with the 5.7 or 5.8 arete that I guess is part of the N.F. route. We did our last rap in the dark with big giant smiles on our faces!


Day 3:


A 7:30 wake up (slept through the alarm) woke us to seriously looming skies and chilly conditions! Luckily the face was mostly wind protected. Mark started up a crack to the left of the bugaboo crack that was a big easier and led to below the headwall below the ramp. It was a great pitch also, but I like the flake to roof to layback pitch better. Instead of doing the fingercrack pitch, I headed right up a thin crack open book that stated as a thin crack left facing corner. A little bit of lichen cleaning and I fingerlocked and laybacked up the 10a crux. This led me into the open book where I jammed, stemmed, and fingerlocked to a ledge. The wall on my left loomed above me with a HUGE AMAZING HANDCRACK that went all the way up to below a massive overhanging roof with a slab traverse below it. It fist-jammed, foot jammed, hand jammed, toe jammed, and finger locked (it has everything!- including a BEAR HUG!) until I was outta breath and outta gear.


Mark finished the crack and was discouraged that it blanked out. No, I shouted, I think I see a crack that splits the slab! There was! Mark delicately switched cracks and led below the big roof to where it ended on the arete. The roof ends at the arete where the two come together creating a heady step around. Mark took his time choosing holds and gear. He dissapeared. Then I heard, "I am at the ledge above the flakes!!!" No kidding! It went, and linked up with our route! We just established a fantastic variation. Both ways are fun in their own way. This one had this awesome pitch I led, the other has the hard fingercrack and the wicked flake pitch.


Mark had to be at work by 6pm so we decided to rap since we had already down the other pitches. A giant diagonal rap got us to our 1st anchor. Mark had a wire brush and spend and hour and a half on rappel scrubbing the shit out of the steep finger crack pitch. It may be easier than 10c now? The desperate insecure handjams above the fingercrack has good jams now and you should be able to use your feet on the slabs alongside the fingercrack. Future parties are encouraged to take a big wire brush to freshen up this pitch and also the step-around variation to expose key footholds.


After shivering my ass off waiting for mark, we started to pull the ropes to do the last rappel. After three feet of pulling, the ropes got stuck! We did eveything we could to get them down including some very sketchy shit. Mark HAD to get to work, and it was very steep to prussik up the ropes, so we did not have time to retrieve them. Mark is going to try and get them back asap, but there are beers involved if you get them for him. Please don't booty our ropes after we put all that hard work in, please. Just coil them up and huck 'em off from the ledge.


I will post some photos soon (they suck, I used the wrong speed film and the lighting was terrible). Mark took better photos, but are slides, so it may be a bit. Mark is working on a topo and is probably done. He will post it online soon. It contains all 11 different pitches. It will also be available at the board near the Mazama Store.


Mark and I had such a fun fun fun and amazing time. What a great three days. And what a classic line! Folks who want to climb Burgundy but don't want to do the N.F. route are highly encouraged to repeat this route. There is no sketchyness involved. I reccomend carrying shoes in the pack and rapping the N.F. to the col . The N.F. is 4 60 meter raps straight down.



Gear Notes:

Rack: One set of thin gear and big gear to 4". Double on fingers to fists (i.e. double set of yellow alien to yellow camalot). Double ropes if doing long pitches. Single rope and rap line if doing shorter pitches (more fun that way). Wire brush to spruce up the route.


P.S. Mark left his brush on the summit rap by accident so if you want to grab that, rap the route, and scrub, go for it.


Approach Notes:

A 2 hour grunt to the pass. There is a cairn on the pull out where to drop down. Soft snow on the col with some steepness. No tool neccesacry, can bypass the steep bits until it gets icy later on.

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Oh yeah, mark also dropped an ATC and a candy wrapped. I smoked a few at the shiver belay and dropped a few butts outta my pocket. I think I picked most of them up, but basically we littered the mountain with ropes, butts, wrappers, brushes, and belay devices.

Leave no trace? Whoops.

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Those were of both of us on the 1st pitch.



That was mark on pitch two of the 1st day's scouting.



That was mark starting up the long, fun chimney. I have other photos but they really suck.

Mark will post photos and a topo in due time. Hopefully the topo will be at the board of the Mazama Store.

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fruit.gifOk brothers and sistas from another vista...thanks to Jammin I am now apt in the art of this site. Here you go. Enjoy and send. ~Mark laugh.gifgrin.gifwink.gifcantfocus.gifooo.gif


Pitch 1 ooo.gif:Climb the crescent shaped flake crack into small alcove roof and through v-notch (crux 5.9). Go left into undercling crack and back right to belay at good stance small crack for gear.

Pitch 2: bigdrink.gif climb up and left into Right leaning finger crack. Boulder move(5.9) up and right into hand crack on pillar for 15ft until widens and even with foot ledge. Traverse left on cracks and ledge 20ft to corner seam and finger crack belay w/ semi hanging stance.

Pitch 3: (Crux pitch) the_finger.gifTraverse out left to arrete and up face holds to 5.10 fingers for 15ft. exit out small roof on right and up finger/hands 5.8 and up large flakes to the Money Ledge.

Pitch 4: cheeburga_ron.gifMove belay up to base of Chimney on easy 4th

Pitch 5: wave.gifClimb chimney with inter jamcracks occasionaly bypassing chock stones on right side jamcracks. Belay and good leage right of large flate sqare shaped slab w/ RFC (see topo)

Pitch 6: grin.gifClimb up chimney and off width aiming for prow. Exit left below prow onto face cracks and up to ledge for the money position.

Pitch 7: wink.gifClimb from ledge past blocks up slabs to cracks past old Becky bolt and traverse left to arrete. Move up into right leaning hand crack and gain ridge. Hand over hand into Right leaning hands crack and around corner. Down climb 5ft and traverse 10ft to large ledge and Belay.


Begin Descent off chock stone that was passed gaining large ledge just below down climb. 4 X 200ft raps to col

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  • 2 years later...

A friend and I repated this climb on 7/1/2007. The first 3 pitches are incredible with great crack climbing on sound rock. The upper chimney section starts out fun as well. Unfortunately the 6th pitch as marked on the topo is loose and chossy through the crux and just generally kind of suck.


Once on the ridge crest you join the Original Route which is again just stellar. The climbing felt very similar to the meag-classic East Ridge of Wolfs Head in the Winds. The topo is missing an 8th pitch to reach the actual summit. Pitch 8 is a short downclimb on the west side followed by a friction traverse under a roof then wide cracks to the top.


All and all a good climb if you can forget about that 6th pitch. Highly recommend the original finish for anyone climbing the North Face as well!

Edited by dberdinka
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