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[TR] The Lion's Head - Lion Tamer 8/21/2011

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Trip: The Lion's Head - Lion Tamer


Date: 8/21/2011


Trip Report:

First off, thanks to Jeff Zickler for motivating me to get my butt up to the NF of the Lion's Head in order to do this route.


The NF of the Lion's Head is awesome and has tons of room for more stuff. Also, I would agree that it is old school 10. I felt that there was adequate protection throughout with few real runouts. The description in Lairds book makes the approach and the route sound pedestrian. Neither are. There are three 5.10 pitches. Two 9's and a low fifth.


Having recently done the Stanley Burgner on Prusik I was prepared for the first pitch.


1. 55M of 8 and 9 Chimney climbing. The 9 chimney protects well and is a tad easier than the Stanley Burgner chimney but it has a way more dramatic finish with a 10 hand crack exit and a couple more 10 boulder moves to the belay.


2. Goes straight up the obvious groove and has a nice 9 layback at the end that deposits you on a ample ledge.


3. takes you up some more wide but awesome 9 maneuvers and puts you directly into some 10 thin hands and laybacks. After this little crux another 50 or so feet of 8 will set you on a giant mossy ledge.


4. Fun 9 laybacking up a wide crack to an awkward mantle. Some easy face climbing and a finish behind a wide flake.


5. Laird describes this as easy climbing on ramps. Kittel calls it 10 fingers and a 10 hand traverse. I agree with Kittel. Climb the easy chimney. Go straight up a thin open book with 10 maneuvering. Exit left via a hand traverse, more 10. Zig back right to a large mossy belay.


6. Now an easy exit right will get you close to the top. Low fifth.


Descent is due south via two slabby raps with one 60.


The route is a bit dirty but not horrifying. The climbing totally makes up for it. If this was in the cascades there would be a que. It is an excellent route.


Thanks a ton to Skatan for going. Couldn't have done it without ya.


Gear Notes:

0-4 TCU's. Stoppers, Double camalots from .5-3. One 4. Two ropes would be required for a retreat.



Approach Notes:

The approach notes in Lairds book are adequate. Remember to follow the pink tape even if it seems to be taking you away from your objective. Also, were pants. There is some schwacking and you'll like them for the Chimney.

It took us about an Hour and a half to get to the final boulder field. So, two hours total to the route. On the way out we stayed higher than on the way in, around 6000'. This way we cut across slabs instead of brush. This cut way down on the schwacking. We did the descent in the dark. One headlamp for two. If I had not remembered my GPS we would have had a bivi. So Start early. We didn't.

Edited by pu

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Mad props! Ive been thinking about heading up from Moscow to do that climb this fall before the snow shows up. Looks like a super sweet climb.

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Congrats on this and on Prusik! Should have taken me so you could get in some Z-pulley practice too. Plus I could have been the official photographer :)

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Thanks to Jeff and Partner, and thanks to Joe and Partner for the beta.


NOTE--Unnecessarily long post intended for anyone seeking details about the climb and approach.We did the route on Sunday, but likely would have headed west to more popular climbs in the cascades if we hadn't seen your posts here regarding the Lion's Head. We drove in after dark Saturday late, thus missing views of the massif from the road in. A bit disoriented, we started walking Sunday morning with only a vague clue where the cliff actually was.


We found the hiker's flagging immediately (hard to miss), and followed them uphill until they ended (this was a mistake, and we should of broken off right early on).


Heeding Joe's comment of staying higher to walk on slabs rather than 'schwacking through the jungle, we chose to err on the side of caution, staying high. This put us on the ridge to the NE of the wall, where we descended to the cliff from the climber's left (east).


Upon arriving and looking back to where we started, we clearly had covered WAY more terrain and elevation than we needed to. Although we had negligible bushwhacking and easy walking on stone, our approach probably wasted an hour or so. We took about 3 hours to the base.


I gambled, hoping I'd be able to find snow-melt at the wall (Thanks for the pictures Jeff!!!), E chose to carry all his water in........SUCKER. Snow melt was ample and should remain so for the season.


The route was awesome, awesome, awesome. Big ledges, skint knees, shade all day, free water at the base, these were undoubtedly the best 5 pitches I've done all year!


We agreed that the route was NOT "dirty" (E called it fairly clean, I called it pretty clean), though it's clear that the 2 recent ascents cleaned off many of those foot smears for us(thanks again gentlemen).


We managed to find the faint climbers trail and flagging at the toe of the talus field, this way out was a cake walk compared to our approach course. We probably could have reached the car in an hour if not for those delicious berries everywhere.


The climbers trail is direct, though faint. Some markers are visible, we kept an eye out for logs that had been sawn as an indication of the human trail. It is unlikely that I could have found or even stayed on the trail on my onsite attempt of the approach.


We were fastidious about staying on the trail, backtracking many times. I'm glad we did.




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Psyched to hear you climbed and enjoyed the route! I agree the route would benefit from lots-o-traffic. Brice, Ben and I pulled several poorly chocked boulders off the route. More to appease my need to throw large shit from high places than anything. Spencer and Ray keep telling me to get ahold of you to discuss objectives - 5.13 sport climbers are a dime a dozen and 5.11 trad climbers are a rare few in these parts...

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Anybody know how this compares to south ridge of Gimli? As good?


Not done lion tamer but done lots in the area. It does sound like one of the best in the Idaho Selkirks. Gimil on the other hand is a must do.

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One could do both as part of a 4-5 day trip to the Kootenays. But once you look around at Mulvey Basin, you will be tempted to just stay there. Classic routes abound. The N face side of Gimli is a lot of fun too.


So whoever goes to Lion's head next, can you do me a favor could please help me confirm who the two guys from Bonners Ferry were that first climbed it? I suspect my Dad Bob Pace and Everett Davidson in the summer of 1938, but I would like to know for sure. The book just says 2 guys from Bonners. Bob and Everett approached from Smith creek, after visiting my uncle on the Smith creek lookout.

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Gimli is a great route and in a league of it's own.

I think lion tamer is shorter and more sustained in difficulty. It is steeper and obviously less traveled, but I think it was absolutely just as memorable and a BLAST!.

If you find and stay on the climbers trail, the approach is much less traveled than Gimli but the length and elevation gain are about the same. As leeareden pointed out, all the info we had about this climb and approach, we pulled from this post, which added to the adventure factor.

Thanks to Jeff and Joe for motivating us to get out there and enjoy this beautiful place.

We plan to return this month to sample the south face chimney or ??? And will let mcallboater know about the 1938 FA.

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