American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

North America, Canada, Cirque of the Unclimbables, Unnamed Spire, Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2004

Unnamed spire, attempt. Bryan Palminiter and I attempted a new line on an unnamed spire to the right of the Lotus Flower Tower in August. Since our return, we have learned that the high point of our attempt came within 50 feet of intersecting a Belgian line on the same formation, which was mislabeled “Tathagata Tower” in the 1979 AAJ (p. 205). The spire appears to be the right (northwest) buttress of the Lotus Flower Tower, but has a distinct summit (best seen when mist blows between it and the main tower). It can be recognized from below by right-slanting black rock at the base and a large square-cut roof with a left-facing corner on the lower head- wall. There is a smaller, slender triangular spire (with no recorded climbing history) between the Lotus Flower Tower and the one we attempted.

We started left of the black slabs and climbed three 60m easy 5th class approach pitches. The first followed blocky crack systems to below a 10-foot step. After passing this 5.9 step, the route trends up left to the base of the main wall. The main wall starts above and is quite vertical, with rock similar to that on the Lotus Flower Tower. We chose a large straight-in crack near the right edge. We followed the crack and nearby flakes and face features for two 100- foot pitches of 5.9/10-. We explored a little higher on more difficult ground before time forced us to turn around. We were attempting to reach the right arête of the spire, where we would have (unknowingly) joined the 1977 Belgian line. Several excellent lines are visible to the left of our line, and we were surprised there was no record of them being climbed. While in the Cirque we also climbed the regular route on the Lotus Flower Tower and climbed Unicorn Peak.

Kevin Jones

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