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[TR] Yellow Jacket Tower, - Standard 10/19/2013


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Trip: Yellow Jacket Tower, - Standard


Date: 10/19/2013


Trip Report:


YJT on Your Zipper


My buddy Coop had started bouldering a bit, so it wasn't too hard to convince him that he needed to get into the alpine. After a couple trips to the crag to learn how to dangle from a rope, we found ourselves driving across Steven's pass in the dark with the gas light on. Coasting into Leavenworth, we filled up on gas, flipped society one last bird, and headed up the icicle. I had forgotten all beta and map, but had read about the climb on the internet, so we were set.


Coop paused at the signs stating "private property do not enter", "pass here and die", and "trespassers will be shot". I told him not to worry that we were on route and the signs are just to weed out the gym rats.


We huffed and puffed up 2000' of hook creek approach trail, stopping to take in the amazing fall colors and morning light (and mostly catch our breath). Eventually we got to the main approach gully and scrambled awkwardly around the lower chockstone step. Up the sandy gully goat trail for a bit, then to the fork: a couple years ago i had gotten sucked up and left here, so we went right and scrambled up easy rock steps and sandy ledges. Then we were at chicken head wall, hungry and ready to climb.


We dinked around trying to hang a pack at ideal goat pinata height, and then peeing as much as we could to attract them to the spot. Once we were satisfied with our goat diversion, we roped up and started up the final class 3/4 approach pitch. I had scrambled this pitch a couple years ago on a failed attempt at this epic tower. This time we pitched this out, not wanting to overwork a new partner's nerves through an awkward class 3+ step.


We anchored into a nice two bolt setup at the bottom of the first class 5 pitch, and I then sewed the next 30-ft like I was making a sweater for a dying orphan. Lots of easy placements in the crack and fun/easy class 5 climbing using the crack and the left slab face. At the top of the pitch, I setup at the tree beforer the cave, waved at Coop and yelled "on-belay". He climbed up efficiently, with only one stop mid-pitch to take pictures.


A couple scramble moves got us over the cave and onto the large ledge just below the tower. We soaked up the sun and views for a while, then decided we better get after the last short pitch of climbing. I followed the main crack up climbers left to right, worming my way up an unnecessary chimney move, before getting to the base of the final 15' of the climb. This is where everyone says to use a pink tri-cam in the little pocket to provide a last bit of protection. The hole is way bigger than a pink, but I plugged in a red. This really only gets you 6' higher protection than the horizontal crack at your feet. A bit of mantling and grunting and I was on the summit, belaying Coop up from a bomber set of tat, chain, and bolts.


The views from this little summit were much better than I had expected. It was a blue bird fall day with a dusting high on the ridges above and fall colors in full force. Edwards Peak and the Hook Creek group looked incredible with snow starting about 500' below.


After basking in the sun for a while having lunch on picnic ledge, we began rapping down. 3 raps down our 3 pitches, plus 2 raps down lower got us out. Unfortunately even with extensive effort, we did not attract any goats to our bag. With no goats to rangle and ride down the trail, we set off down the steep approach. Screwed around at the rat creek boulder a bit, before heading to Bavaria for overpriced beer, brats, and slutty german chicks. Welcome to the alpine Coop!







Hanging out at the top of the main class 5 pitch (our p2)



Just about to top out



Fall is here



Summit pose



Gear Notes:

Red or brown tri-cam fits in summit pocket, but just don't fall.

Friends with SLRs are even better than friends with boats.


Approach Notes:

Don't get shot, find a big boulder, go up

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  • 2 weeks later...

well someone got all excited in there and she'll never be pink again.



It was a fun fall trip with a noob. I wish I'd have gotten one more climb in last weekend. It was a weird year as I did 4 alpine climbs with 4 different sets of partners. I still haven't found a new partner who dreams of obscure alpine 5.4's in the rain... Guess it's time to start skiing.

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