North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada Range, Tower à la Neptune, Wheeler Crest

Publication Year: 1980.

Tower à la Neptune, Wheeler Crest. This is the farthest left of the “Hot Tuna” towers, a row of pink granite spires about 3000 feet above the Owens Valley floor on the Wheeler Crest. In December Mike Graber and I started before dawn and roped up at 8:30 A.M. below a direct start into an obvious chimney system on the left side of the 1000-foot wall. After several starts and a couple of hours time, the first pitch was completed with a move of aid where a nut placement interfered with a fist jam, and the leader, me, chickened out. Graber followed the pitch free, finding it moderate F10 with difficult protection. Time dictated an 80-foot leftward traverse into a chimney system at the end of the second pitch, rather than having a go at a more difficult single crack directly above. The chimney provided consistent F8 and F9 climbing for two pitches, before breaking back into easier going near the top. The eight pitches took seven hours, and the descent into darkness took another three. NCCS III, F10, A1.

Galen Rowell