South Face, Concord Tower II 5.6
Avg time to climb route: 1-3 hours
Approach time: 1.5-3 hours
Descent time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of pitches: 3
Height of route: 300'
OverviewThe South Face of Concord Spire is the easiest route to the summit, but the loose rock on Pitch 1 and the less traveled approach prevent it from being the most popular route on the mountain. While there is some poor quality rock and mediocre protection on Pitch 1, the South Face is still a fun and moderate outing with a spectacular final ridge-climb to the summit that bumps this route to three stars. In addition, the South Face has an out of the way feel that is rare in the Liberty Bell group. Often, there won’t be another person in sight until you’re on the summit looking down at the hoards of climbers cued up for the Beckey Route. The South Face is one of the earliest climbable routes at Washington Pass and is quick to dry after a storm. The route was first climbed by Donald N. Cramer, Donald Anderson, Bruce Schuler and Fred Stanley in 1965.
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Route HistoryThe First Ascent was on June 12, 1956 by Fred Becky and John Parrott. Not much is known about the ascent.
StrategyCrowds are unlikely but it’s not out of the question to share this route with another party on a busy weekend. The granite on the South Face is a little grainier than usual for the Liberty Bell group and has quite a few loose flakes. As a result, some protection is suspect and a few runouts are mandatory. Only confident 5.6+/5.7 leaders should attempt this route. You can’t pull through any of the cruxes on gear.
Pitch 1 has better protection but is especially gravelly; the rock improves as you climb higher. Pitch 2 has better rock but is a little more runout nut on easier ground. The third and final pitch is now most commonly broken into two pitches, or you need to move the belay to cut down on rope drag. The final section over the “sharks fin” which is exposed, solid, and incredible, is certainly scarier to follow than to lead. For the final summit block, most parties traverse slightly to the right and finish on the North Face route, which is less awkward than finishing on the Patriot Cracks. Once you rappel of the summit down, it’s less than 100 feet back to the col, so leave your shoes and packs there and only carry what you need.
Retreat StormThe South Face is one of the quickest routes to dry out after a storm and a good early season option. Rappel the route at any time by rappelling from trees. Many of the small trees are poor rap anchors so make sure the trees are well rooted! From the top, make two single rope rappels from the summit straight down the South Face. The ASCA replaced these anchors in 2010.
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