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lunger

first ascent [TR] Tillie's Towers - Austera Ridge - W Tillie's Tower N Arete 8/17/2008

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Trip: Tillie's Towers - Austera Ridge - W Tillie's Tower N Arete

 

Date: 8/17/2008

 

Trip Report:

Inspired by J. Scurlock's photo, Rolf Larson and I climbed an approx. 1100' route (6.5 rope-stretch cysmastfu pitches) on the half-sunlit arete of the right hand tower, just left of center in pic below:

TilliesTwrs07300505.jpg

credit: J. Scurlock.

 

Tillie's Towers are basically the most prominent NW terminus of Austera Ridge or Austera Towers (point 8260' on USGS map), of which Beckey comments: "The name is for austere, barren rock towers consisting of many massive rock blocks and spires. The N flank of the western towers is above an unnamed glacier where there is the steepest wall of the ridge...These are two impressive towers..."

 

We found solid, mostly clean and featured rock--Eldorado Orthogneiss--offering both nice cracks and gear-protected face climbing. The route featured gobs of 5.8 and .7 climbing, with a few moves of .9 sprinkled along the way. Joking about a route name, I liked "Nutmeg Tilly" (you better lay your nutmeg down), but Rolf rightly observed re our route: "an unearthed obscurity destined to return to obscurity." "Unearthed Obscurity" is better because the adjacent Piltdown Tower (see pic below) refers to Piltdown Man, an archaelogical hoax comprised of part man, part monkey--like our team. This is an out-of-the way rugged corner of the NCNP; I dug the cool position and alpine ambiance.

 

Pardon the pictorial play-by-play, I got a few decent pics--wildfire haze has its pros and cons...but the rock and area are photogenic.

After hot long hike in from Colonial Cr Campground on Aug 16, sunset light on Primus peak and Borealis Gl from our camp:

Primus_sunset.jpg

On up/down/up approach morning Aug. 17, it started raining, but we decided to go to the base of the route and see what the weather decided. Looking back at Tricouni at sunrise, Ragged Ridge L background:

sunrise_ragged_ridge_Tricouni.jpg

Showers stopped, we ascended over blue glacial ice to base, and were stoked to get on it. Pitch 1, crack and face on neat-O rock:

rolf_p1.jpgrolf_pitch_1.jpg

We generally stayed either on or w/in spitting distance of the Arete. However, on pitch 2, I did a curve right to access a chimney system to bypass an overhanging pillar. Belay from cleft, top p. 2, hard to see Shuksan in background:

chimney_shuksan.jpg

Rolf heading up scrappy .9 section of p. 3, from deluxe alcove belay:

rolf_p31.jpg

I drew these nice cracks on pitch 4:

pitch_4_cracks.jpg

Pitches 1-4 are pretty steep; from 5 on the arete backs off a bit. Here's a shot looking down 6 at the glacier:

looking_down_p6.jpg

From the summit, views of the McAllister Gl icefall and Austera Ridge (towers):

mcallister_gl_icefall.jpg

Austera_Ridge.jpg

Descent beta: rap S face c. 100', then traverse E and downclimb steep 4th to gully between the Towers. Descend gully only a little, looking to ascend/traverse E to Austera ridge crest. Find your way down and onto to N Klawatti Gl (deep moat). On rap, half man half monkey Piltdown Tower:

piltdown_tower_from_rap.jpg

Tag E Tillie for good measure (dry Buckner background):

E_Tillie_dry_Buckner.jpg

We had time, and a poor next-day forecast seemed to prohibit climbing the N side of Primus, so we went over Primus en route to camp. Along the way, snuck a pic of contemplative curmudgeon with more Eldo Orthogneiss, rare opp to avoid the finger:

rolf_eldo_orthogneiss.jpg

From summit Primus, view of our camp at outlet of Borealis Gl:

borealis_lake_camp_from_primus_peak.jpg

Lightning and thunderstorm that night, with next morning dawning temporarily clear:

borealis_lk_camp_storm-cleared_morn.jpg

Such a purty place, with a dapper Pinocchio to boot:

dapper_dan.jpgjed.jpg

(clem done found him a tattered hat)

skunk_cabbage.jpg

Parting shot of Tricouni and Primus, happy to hike in the rain:

rainy_depart_tricouni_primus.jpg

 

Having only cragged once this year in March (long ski season, busy summer), this was an ideal alpine shot in the arm with--dare I say it--an easy-going and downright fun-to-hate partner. The route's certainly not destined for any guidebook, but if you like untrammeled lines, a fine place.

In light of all that, prob. moot title:

West Tillie's Tower - N Arete ("Unearthed Obscurity") III 5.9

 

Gear Notes:

med. alpine rack, brought pins did not use them

axe and crampons

4 12 oz. Rainier

1 flask bourbon (Porter: can you guess?)

 

Approach Notes:

icy hot

 

become what you hate

destroy what you love

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rare opp to avoid the finger

 

an easy-going and downright fun-to-hate partner

 

:laf: :laf: :laf:

 

Rock on guys... chalk up another one for the climb more spray less team :tup:

 

 

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Those pictures of Rolf are printing out and will be posted on my office wall in a few moments. Congrats on the BALLIN climbing! Looks great!

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Great Tr,the pic. of Mcallister GL icefall is tore up from

the floor up!! KOOL SHIT!

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Nice find - I remember yammering with Layton about checking out the rock in there a while back. Looks like some incredibly well-featured climbing.

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Hell yeah boys! Takes a lot to slog all the way back there not knowing if there's even gonna be a route on those things. Thank you so much for saving me the effort, but of course now I'm jealous now that you've murdered the impossible.

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You guys are way core and badass. And so handsome and fashionable! Although I must admit the half man/half monkey thing is news to me.

 

Nice work; looks fun.

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Thanks guys...yeah Mike, that's a long ways to go for an unknown quantity, but it worked out great. Oh, and 'staafl (nullum gratuitum prandium): what I meant was that our team is one man and one monkey, not 2 half-monkeys. Backhanded compliment(?) to the man-monkey. Sorry for any confusion.

 

You can see there are more lines to be had on that N facing wall, hope someone gets back there, would like to hear about it. There's also a good-looking long-ish ridge climb with gendarmes off to looker's left (not visible in first pic, but the ridge toe is in the pic preceding the McAllister Icefall pic), so lots of options...

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great name - the piltdown man was accepted scientific fact for a long while - really trippy looking rawk!

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Nice trip in an out of the way spot.

 

mcallister_gl_icefall.jpg

 

 

From the FA in 1973:

McAllister.jpg

 

Doesn't look like the McAllister has changed all that much. Mine was taken maybe a month earlier.

 

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wow, that pic of Rolf with the parasol is putting me over the top. i think i'm going to blow it up into a poster.

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Nice looking climb!

 

Those pictures of the McAllister icefall make me want to go back in there during the ski season. It looks like the icefall has lost a fair bit of mass since 1973, especially on the looker's right side. Hope it holds up a while longer...

 

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