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North America, United States, Wyoming, Bitterroot Mountains, Spirolina Tower and Corner with a View

Bitterroot Mountains, Spirolina Tower and Corner With a View. Trapper Creek’s Spirolina Tower was named after its first ascent in 1977, by Craig Kenyon and Tom Cosgriff via the southwest corner (5-6 pitches, 5.8). The tower was notable to Kenyon because of his near-death experience on the east face descent. In 1992 Rod Sutherland and I, on a lark, put up the direct south face route, Whimsey (7 pitches, IV 5.10c) (1993 AAJ, p. 155), while also experiencing trials on the east face descent.

In 2002 James Pinjuv prophesized that a thin line on a blank gray wall high up Spirolina was a perfect hand crack. With confidence Jimmy led the first pitch, a left-facing corner system (5.9) 50' east of the start of Whimsey. I led the second pitch (5.8), up clean cracks to a small stance under a little tree. Jimmy led the foretold third pitch, the Jelly Jam (60', 5.9+)—one of the finest hand cracks in the Bitterroots, and named for its exquisite sweetness. I led the fourth pitch, the Orange Corner, a slightly seedy flaring crack, at 5.10b. Three pitches followed, with several options available. One can cut right, out onto the south face, following obvious cracks to the top (5.8-5.10, Whimsey finish) or angle northeast, toward easier terrain (Jelly Jam finish). During the east face descent we followed obvious ramps, placing several fixed pins and stoppers, and made five rappels.

During our descent Jimmy spotted a corner system, one and a half gullies to our east, that appeared to have a perfect crack in it. After two scrambling, roped approach pitches, I started up the third pitch, a clean, near-perfect corner (5.9+). Jimmy led the fourth pitch, a spectacular, vertical continuation of the corner (5.9+). Two more serpentine pitches (5.8) angling northeast led us to the top of the formation and a pleasant northwest walk-off into the descent gully (Corner With a View, III 5.9+).

Steve Porcella