Category Archives: Rock Climbing

Yellow Jacket Tower

We attempted (and had to back off due to rain) Yellow Jacket Tower near Leavenworth on Sunday. The trailhead is on Icicle Creek Road a few miles outside Leavenworth. The approach is relatively short but quite steep and once you move close to the route, rockfall becomes a real issue. The views are spectacular – we even had a rainbow because of the mist – so it was well worth the effort. The summit just facilitates the trip, and I really didn’t care much that we couldn’t climb. Great group, great scenery and really good exercise going up and down that approach path! Photos by Tom McPharlin.

 

 

    South Early Winter Spire

    What a beautiful, evocative name for a peak! The South Early Winter Spire is accessible out of the Blue Lake Trailhead, 54 miles outside Marblemount. I left Seattle at about 7:30 PM, took a 14 mile unintended detour on a deserted road outside Derrington and hit Marblemount at about 10:30 PM. The next 54 miles I didn’t see a single other car – just the stars above and the brooding blackness of the peaks on either side of Route 20. I pulled up to the empty trailhead parking lot at about 11:30, curled up in the backseat and just slept until 6 AM. We got very lucky with the weather – absolutely beautiful fall sunshine!

    The approach is a bit steep and takes about 1 hour. There’s one tricky move on the very first pitch of the South Arete route, but other than that it seems to be strictly like 5.5 or so. There’s a really cool chimney move up a thin gully – inside is really fun, like being in the Hall of the Mountain King! We simul-climbed up to the Whale Back, which is an easy Class 4 traverse (we did it with a fixed rope). The summit is just one big boulder on top of a bunch of other big boulders, but affords spectacular views of the surrounding range.

    Downclimbing got a bit hairy at times because I was carrying a huge pack. Next time I think I’ll use some of the many bolted rappel anchors.

    South Early Winter Spire

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    Photo credit: John Barrickman