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first ascent [TR] Leaning Towers - First Ascent - east face of Hall Peak 8/16/2014

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Trip: Leaning Towers - First Ascent - east face of Hall Peak


Date: 8/16/2014


Trip Report:

Are you an alpinist or alpine rock climber or even just a frequenter of the Patagonia catalog? If the answer is yes then chances are you’ve heard of the Bugaboos and chances are… you haven’t heard of the Leaning Towers. They are a group of three notable peaks 50 miles south of the Bugaboos. They feature similar age granite (granodiorite) to that of the Bugs but the 16 km approach that requires a significant amount of bushwhacking keeps the crowds away.


The first ten days of August Winter Ramos and I spent bushwacking our way to the best alpine granite that either of us have climbed on.


In our days in the range, we established two new routes on the east Face of Hall Peak:

- The Direct East Buttress of Hall Peak (IV, 5.9+, 17 pitches, ~2000')

- Post Credit Cookie (II, 5.10A, 4 pitches)






The Leaning Towers are best viewed from the air; they are composed of three major named peaks.




Given a hint after two of our friends had put up a new route on the east face of hall peak the previous year , we aimed directly at the largest buttress on Hall Peak's East face.


The LT's are ~50 miles south of the Bugaboos.



One of the best (legal) ways to get into the range is via the Dewar Creek Trailhead and then a hike up the pass just above Bugle Basin and down into the drainage below hall peak. This trailhead is accessed out of Kimberley, B.C. ~50 km of dirt roads.



We horse packed in the first 12 k; then shouldered our big packs to hike up and over the pass. If you hit it early season enough there will be plenty of snow to make for easy going.



At the top of the pass, we found our first view of Hall Peak's DRAMATIC east face.


A night at the pass was followed by an epic descent into the most remote and exclusive bouldering area in all of British Columbia.



Only a two day approach!



This bush on the up had us hiking straight up the creek.


UP, UP and UPPPP! we went until we were camped just below Hall Peak and our prize.





The "Direct East Buttress" is in the centre of the above photo.


This comes after a compilation of others routes in the ranges shows how much rock remains untouched!




(Lines courtesy of Ryan Leary)


With a bit of a rest day and a chance to scout around for our descent route, we racked up very soon after arriving to try for the Direct East Buttress. A 20 minute walk from camp at 5:00 AM had us at a nice ledge below our first pitch of climbing.





The most intimidating feature on the lowers portion of the route is a large roof we could see through camp. Expecting something super hard, we brought out aiders and a few pitons. Winter found a sneak through on airy 5.9 moves.




The rock was SPECTACULAR, lots of cracks only requiring moderate cleaning in spots where a bit more traffic would make for perfect climbing.




Awesome face climbing just to the right of the main ridge (which is overhanging at this point), we connected cracked systems with a bit of slab all at 5.9!





Winter led the crux pitch of the route, 40m of 5.9+ splitter hands!



Our face climbing ended a the notch below a large gendarme on the direct south buttress, from here it was meandering mid-5th ridge climbing.






After 17 pitches, some shortened for lack of gear and rope drag, we reached the summit!!!






From here it was a bit of down climbing 4th class slab, a few rappels, some steep snow and we were back to the col where we rappelled onto the snow field above camp.





(image courtesy of Ryan Leary and John Scurlock)





Followed this climbing day with a day of rest, when we slept and played around placing pitons in our campsite practice wall


The day after a much needed 24 hours of rest; we felt just leaving would be a bit sad. After taking two days to get to such awesome granite, why not keep rock climbing? A jaunt placed us just below the shorter northern aspect of Hall Peak. We spied a good crack system and ended up putting up a four pitch 5.10a we called "Post Credit Cookie"




The first pitch was the 10a crux, clean cracks and fun lie backing and stemming moves gave us a fantastic intro to this face of hall peak.








Then came another quality 5.9 pitch.



The third pitch was 5.9 with an exposed slab and then low-5th



You top out 100m to the south of the fixed rappel anchor. A quick double rope rappel takes you back to the snowfield above camp. We descended, packed up, and hiked partway out.


We tried the high road on the way out, sticking to moraines and sidehilling on moraines on the northern side of the peak just adjacent the pass we were aiming for. A cold campsite for the night, then more STEEP bushes followed by three single rope rappels through vertical bush put us on an endless block field to the pass, we recovered some stashed gear and then down the other side.




Even though it was incredibly hot, we relaxed our weak knees at Dewar Creek Hotsprings.



Finally back at the trailhead several hours later we headed back down that isolated dirt road, looking forward to dinner in British Columbia's own Bavarian Village (Kimberley, B.C.).


Block Tower and Wall Tower still offer large and probably HARD objectives. Wall Tower has no completed routes up its east face




Hall Peak, thanks again!



Get after it! Will be posting more writing and photos at my blog


Gear Notes:

We brought 2 60m half ropes.


Full double rack to 3, with one 4. Could probably get by with single rack to bd .5 then doubles .5 to 3, single 4.


If you are thinking of leaving the 4, we used it every pitch


Approach Notes:

Horse packers help a lot!


Brad helped pack us in the first 12 km.


Give yourself two days on the approach.


Also! Would like to thank the Mazama's for helping to support our expedition!

Edited by shishcabob30

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Incredible that a feature like that has waited until 2014 for an FA, long approach notwithstanding. Excellent work gentleman!


So, the best illegal way to get in is... helicopter?


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Yep. As the towers are in the Purcell Wilderness Heli is out of the question.


In 1998, Sean Isaac and Guy Edwards (two canadians) caused a pretty big stir by taking a helicopter into the range. Canadian climbers were REAL upset that the two used their grant from the AAJ and CAJ to hire an illegal helicopter ride.



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glad to hear someone actually got up something there... I made trips into the Leaning Towers in 1979 and 1980, and got rained/snowed on for a week both times. approached up the St. Marys river to the hot-springs, then over the ridge to the towers. in 1980, we never even made it over the ridge, just camped at the hot spring for a week while it rained & snowed, then packed up & hiked back out. not sure that this is the first route on the east face of Hall Peak -- I believe I recall descriptions of at least one earlier route from CAJ mid-seventies. a superb venue, if you can catch the weather window... congratulations.

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There are now three routes on the east face of Hall Peak. The 1975 route and route put up by Ryan Leary and Evan Reimondo is also highlighted (Upper Ramp)



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Awesome work and play. The Leaning Tower group has come to mind so many times since our little reconnoiter up Dewar Creek a few years ago. Stellar!

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