Lotus Flower Tower, Free Ascent. In early August Mark Robinson, Sandy Stewart and I completed the first all-free ascent of the McCarthy-Frost-Bill route on the Lotus Flower Tower during a three-day spell of clear weather. Several days earlier, we spent two days on the wall free-climbing to the terrace 1400 feet up but retreated in stormy weather. The first 300 feet involved awkward jamming up the wet and dirty dihedral with a difficult section near the top and route-finding problems establishing ourselves in the jam-crack. Climbing the long chimney system which then splits the lower wall was unpleasant, with loose holds, wet and dirty rock and much trash left from previous ascents. The extraordinary climbing on the upper “ski tracks” made up for this. We followed the aid cracks for most of the upper wall, occasionally traversing to either side of them when the climbing became wet or unpleasant. The second overhang was the crux on the upper face. After a steep, 30-foot head-wall, the crack widened and turned into hand-jamming and finally, 300 feet higher, to offwidth. One further note: the trash problem is increasing rapidly in the meadows and on the walls themselves in the Cirque of the Unclimbables. There is trash behind every boulder and even in the cracks and chimneys on the Lotus we found large quantities of garbage. All climbers should familiarize themselves with proper trash disposal, the use of latrines and the “pack it in, pack it out” philosophy. We were also greatly distressed at the practices of the Belgian party, for shooting mountain goats and marmots, cutting down trees unnecessarily and incompetent waste removal. The Cirque of the Unclimbables is a magnificent and beautiful area. Please let’s keep it that way.
Steven Levin, Unaffiliated