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North America, United States, Montana, Lost Horse Buttress and Unnamed Tower, Bitterroot Mountains

Lost Horse Buttress and Unnamed Tower, Bitterroot Mountains. Five separate attempts were made on this route before it was finally completed. Most were foiled by bad weather. Rod Sutherland began this route on the south face in July, putting up eight pitches. We started between two large rock flakes that lie on the lower apron of the buttress. Six pitches of thin, often run-out 5.8 slab climbing gained a small ledge below the prominent dihedral on the headwall.The seventh pitch was a full rope-length of 5.0 to 5.7 climbing and traversed west up flakes to a small belay stance protected by a bolt and a pin. The next pitch started off with 5.9 face climbing, followed by some thin crack A2, an east-slanting flake-and-crack system and finally ended at a bolt and pin belay stance on a 2-inch ledge. In August, Bruce Anderson and I regained the high point just as we were hit by a cold, rainy Montana storm. Rather than to rappel nine pitches that involved a now dangerous, wet traverse, we decided to continue on. Bruce led the ninth pitch (5.8, A2), which traversed to the right and up good flakes and cracks to a large ledge. I led the 10th pitch, which followed up a shallow, crackless comer to an east-facing wall with a good crack. An exposed eastward traverse brought us to the crux of the route, a large overhanging roof with widely spaced, marginal placements (A2+). After turning the roof, we continued up to a bush and then to the east and to a belay on a small sloping ledge. The last, short pitch went through a second smaller roof, traversing west and then east over loose rock to gain the plateau on top. (IV, 5.9, A2+.) In September, Rod Sutherland and I became intrigued with a crack that split the major roof of the Unnamed Tower. The first pitch (5.8) started up a rotten, blocky gully. The second pitch moved onto the face and ascended steep rock with thin, discontinuous cracks (5.10). The third pitch (5.8) followed up a comer to a large tree. The fourth pitch, the crux, went up a left-facing comer and through the roof, which I led over, following shallow, poorly protectable cracks (5. 10s-R) up the face to a right-facing comer system. We traded leads for the last three pitches of 5.8 crack climbing to finish the route. (IV, 5.10c.)

Stephen Porcella