Leaning Tower Beta Wanted

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My partner and I are planning to climb the "West Face" of the Leaning Tower in early October. A topo and report indicate that two bolts on a bolt/rivet ladder on Pitch 6 were broken off, necessitating a pendulum into A2+ territory. Does anyone know if these bolts/rivets have been replaced? Will an EPIC cheater stick with the accompanying tent pole stick reach past the blown bolts? Also, I have heard conflicting reports that the rappel stations are either easy or hard to find. Does anyone have any beta on the descent?

-- Mark A. Fletcher (mfletche@turnerdesigns.com), August 10, 1998


We climbed the route in June (1998). We did not pendulum on pitch 6; I did use a cheater stick to extend my reach about two feet at the second bolt/rivet. Rivet hangers are very useful (and cheap!) - we used them on several pitches. Generally, there is reasonable gear all over the route - although, of course, that changes with time. I had read the same beta about blown bolts, but everything necessary is in place. The descent is very straighforward (in daylight!): From the notch at the top of the route (impossible to miss) make three rappels (first two short, then one long one) down the steep slabs. Fixed slings at each anchor. Then scramble into the top of the chimney (past a good bivvy site) to the start of a series of rappels down LT chimney. We rapped the entire chimney, which is quicker than scrambling down loose scree with a haul bag. Near the bottom of the chimneys rappel/scramble out right (facing in - towards Fifi buttress) to avoid rappelling directly over the final slabs.

'Hope this helps, and good luck Adrian

-- Adrian Hill (adrianhill@lucent.com), August 11, 1998.

I met Chris McNamara this last Jan(98) while attempting a solo accent. At the time he and some friends were replacing all the bad bolts for the entire route. Last I had heard all were replaced with 3/8 rawl bolts. Good luck.

-- Sean (wldncrze1@aol.com), August 22, 1998.

I don't recomend bringing a cheater stick on the Leaning Tower, there isn't any reason for it. Furthermore, Chris Mac to my knowledge replaced a lot of the bolts on the route, but not all of them, as that would be close to impossible. An important note is that the descent is not hard to find, walk down a straight down, an exposed yet not unreaonsable 3rd class ramp to a fairly okay rappel station marked by multi-colored fixed slings around a chockstone. I do not use this station anymore, as I find the 4th class down climbing is a little faster although a bit more dangerous. 1 60m rope is all you need and all you should take to get off The Tower. I had an expereince years ago rapping with 2 ropes, and the knot holding the ropes together would get stuck a lot when I pulled it after my rappels, and also sent additional rocks down on my partner and I. After the first rappel is done, coil your rope and walk West (or if you can imagin yourself just finished the rappel, when facing the rock, go left and look for the obvios hole, about 25ft away). You will notice a great bivi spot right before the hole, it sleeps 2 comfortably) This rappel station has not been redone by the ASCA (American Safe Climbing Assosiation) but I'm sure will be in the future if not by them then another good samaritan. The anchor consists of 2 (or maybe 3 I can't recall for sure) 1/4" bolts, some of which I believe were placed by harding on the first ascent, yuk! This rappel is short (about 10-15m). Be sure to ride your haul bag here, as you dangle into space the whole way down. The descent becomes obvios at this point; your in a chimney, the only way out is down. After you rappel, be sure to hide yourself from rockfall that will happen from both pulling the rope, and your partner. Next, coil your rope and walk to the next station, 1 bolt and a fixed piton (this belay is better, although some jerk really tried hard to clean the pin so it's not looking too good). I left slings here qith a thick rap ring, equalizing the bolt and pin to make it safer. This is kind of an awkward rappel, into a wide chimney that is smooth on either side formed by running water, about 20m. The overall nature of the rappel is to make a short rappel, then walk and do easy though loose down climbing and then make a rappel. The next rappel is short and can be avoided by walking and climbing down a short loose section that waould otherwise be rappeled. Next is a long rappel, down a loose gully. Make sure your rope is middle-marked or is set up perfectly, so as just when the rope runs out, the rappel ends (a full 30 meters). If your rope is a few feet short, down worry you will just be stuck in a 3rd/4th class gully, which isn't unreasonable, yet you will be screwed later on for the last rappel. Again, clear away from the base, and walk over to the large tree to your left as you face away from the chimney. from here, its 3 more rappels to the ground, straight foreward and on reasonable to excellent bolts (the last bolt anchor is the one with the best bolts). Now You will find the last belay in the middle of a wall, with exactly 30 meters to the ground. Don't take any chances here, as you will be hurt if your ropes come up short. Now your on the ground, the rappels are done, and only grueling hiking of about 20-30min seperates you from your car. Follow the wall back to the most obvios deer trail leading away from the tower (found after about 1/4 mile of following the wall back down hill). Now, the reason I am so specific on the descent, is that almost no one goes up the trail the same way they go down, it's a little inobvois and a real pain. So, stay on the most obvios trail you can, and the walk out won't be too bad. As a note, I have climbed the Leaning Tower 5 times each up a different route, so if you have any questions, just email me. Good luck, Leaning Tower contains some of the highest quality wall climbing I've done.

-- chris van leuven (turbospazm@yahoo.com), February 23, 1999.

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