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North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Wheeler Crest

Wheeler Crest. An upsurge of climbing activity around Bishop led to a number of outstanding new routes in this expanse of granite towers and buttresses. The routes are listed south to north: 1) The Great Escape. In March Kim Walker and I ascended the right side of the buttress that drops into the canyon immediately south of the Smokestack approach gully. The climb follows a right-facing book for four or five pitches of crack and chimney climbing, then moves up and left to a bushy ledge. From here face-climb right to a flake that is aided to a bolt from which

an enormous pendulum/rappel right to a ledge system leading to fourth class. A direct finish from the bushy ledge seems feasible, but would require protection bolts. NCCS III, F10, A2. 2) Growler. In June Bob Harrington, Joe Rousak and Kevin Leary ascended the narrow rib immediately south of Hot Tuna Tower. The initial part of the climb is on the right side of the rib, but the upper part moves around to the left. NCCS II, F9. 3) Hot Tuna Tower, Sorry Charlie. In May Bob Harrington, Will Crljenko and I climbed this route that starts near the left side of the tower and works up into a left-facing book that is ascended to a point where one goes right, then up an easy face. The third pitch goes left to a pin, then up and right past three bolts to a two-bolt belay. From here we went up and left past two bolts to a crack that led to a bushy ledge. We climbed the book off the right side of the ledge, then up past a bolt to a second bushy ledge. Two easier pitches led to the top. NCCS IV, F10+. 4) Hot Tuna Tower, Violet Green. In June Bob Harrington and James Wilson climbed this route just left to the Rowell-Belden route. It starts in a right-facing book. From its top, one climbs an easy but unprotected face. The fourth pitch ascends cracks to a two-bolt belay. Two more steep, difficult pitches lead to a traverse right to join the Rowell- Belden route a short distance below its impressive roof. NCCS III-IV, F9. 5) Hot Tuna Tower, Open Book Route. In April Bob Harrington and I made the first free ascent of this route. NCCS III, F10. 6) Hot Tuna Tower, Starkissed. In June Paul Brown, Kim Walker and James Wilson followed the striking right-facing book that lies half-way up this route, and is about 150 feet right of the Open Book route. Cracks lead to the base of this corner that is chimneyed and exited halfway up on face holds. An F9 pitch, then two easier pitches, lead to the top. NCCS III, F9. 7) Soaring Eagle Tower, Chicken Delight. In 1978 several routes were reported on the incredibly knobby face to the left of the Rowell- Vandiver route, ranging from F4 to F7. Apparently the farther one goes to the left, the easier. This has proved the most popular route in the Wheeler Crest area. 8) Cobbler’s Bench, The Weary Leader. In May Rick Wheeler and Kevin Leary climbed this obvious grey tower to the north of Big Grey Pinnacle. The route starts on a ledge “a pitch up”. Two pitches lead straight up to a ledge, then climb right on a marvelous dike. One follows a corner to a belay on the face to the right. The fifth pitch, the crux, follows a corner, then works right, passes two bolts, then left to a finger crack. Two pitches lead to the top. NCCS III, F10. 9) Botanist’s Holiday. In December Bob Harrington and Will Crljenko ascended “the most obvious line on the most obvious formation on the right side of the canyon two canyons north of the Hot Tuna Tower approach canyon.” The approach starts in Swall Meadows, and the climb follows a right-facing chimney system. NCCS III, F7.

Alan Bartlett, Buff Alpine Club