American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North Face, Mount Mitchell West

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

North Face, Mount Mitchell West. Like a rocky version of the Piz Badile, the north face of Mount Mitchell’s west peak dominates the spectacular surroundings as one looks across Lonesome Lake, in the heart of the Cirque of the Towers region. In late July, Yvon Chouinard, Ken Weeks and I made a direct climb of the face. At first we felt the ascent might require two days, but once at the base of the 1500-foot wall we decided to leave our bivouac equipment there. The start is about 100 feet left of an arch-cave on the base ledge where the route follows up a steep face for about 500 feet. Here the rock is so excellent and studded with holds that the entire climb was fifth class. Arriving at a large grassy ledge, the route traverses right and up a flake system. The key to the ascent from there is a prominent bowl about three-forths of the way up. A delicate slab system leads into a deep chimney, which is stemmed for two pitches to easier ground. We feel that the entire climb may some day become a classic route; it has a fearsome appearance, but while it has a number of difficult free climbing sections and individual moves, there are always good belay ledges to break up the continuity. The rock was very crystalline, excellent for holds, but piton cracks were occasionally scarce.

Fred Beckey

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