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North America, United States, Washington-Cascades, Chianti Spire, East Face

Chianti Spire, East Face. “Let’s see, the slide is here somewhere. …It’s an outer space-like hand crack . . . Looks fantastic! I wonder how steep that direct start is.” Once below the spire we changed our plans: “…It would be nice to get there directly, but it doesn’t make sense; it’s all broken and undercut. How about over there? That comer looks as if it might go.” I spied this start, so the first pitch was mine. A spectacular traverse left under roofs led to a hand crack in the corner. Jim Nelson started the second pitch up a wide icy crack leading to the top of the right shoulder of Chianti’s east face. Five pitches up, I approach the crux—it’s wet, and I aid around it. The next pitch is wet too, and our “hand crack” now needs a #4 Friend. We rappel off. Two weeks of hot weather later, we swap the leads, Jim taking the good ones this time. Dry rock finds us quickly free-climbing to our high point and then into the unknown. Very soon we top out, making the fourth ascent of the spire, just a tyrolean away from Burgundy. (May 25 and June 8. III, 5.10 – .)

Mark Bebie