Technical climbing info
Mountain: Crescent Towers, Central Tower
Route: Lion’s Way
Length: 7 pitches
Grade: PD+, 5.6
Eyes on the route
We had a great previous day climbing the beautiful West Ridge of Pigeon Spire. When on our way up and down the Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col, we got a great view of Bugaboo Spire’s Kain Route, which was our original plan for the next day. We were also afforded great views of Crescent Spire, giving us a chance to spot a couple routes we had out eyes on for the next few days- Lion’s Way and Ear’s Between. We planned to target Lion’s Way, a classic moderate objective close to camp.
Please Don’t fall into the lake
Our wake up time was even later than our previous day’s. I casually rehydrated a breakfast and made coffee while Jess ate a couple pop-tarts. We both could feel our legs a bit from our previous day up the Pigeon, so we were happy to have a slow start with a short approach.
The approach took us closely around the partially frozen lake behind the campsite. We could see fresh bootpacks directly over the center of the lake, that was the R-rated version of getting to the base I guess. We targeted the large block we could see in the guidebook that indicated the start of the climb.
On belay, but on route?
I scrambled my way up pitch 1, and while the movement was quick and easy, within a few minutes, I couldn’t tell if I was on route anymore. The landmark features I picked out from afar now all blended into the rock. I pulled Jess in and we consulted out photo we took from below. After a few minutes, I skeptically went up what seemed like what resembled pitch 2 the closest.
Jess would take over for the next pitch, at that point, we were fairly certain we were on route. But we had no idea where to go. We yelled over to a team about 15 meters to our right-
“Hey folks, what route are you on?”
“Lion’s way! We think!”
“I think we’re on Lion’s Way!”
We shared confused looks. I could see on if their team members battling through crack that looked way more serious than 5.6. I looked at my map and they were clearly off route, but I couldn’t tell if we were off as well. Hmmm.
A team from below yelled up to us-
“Are you on Lion’s Way?”
“We think so, but so do they”, as I pointed to the team on our right.
I guess that the book saying “the climb is difficult to describe due to the complex nature of the terrain” was serious. Jess made her way up smoothly first, until she went out of sight. Eventually the rope stopped for a second. Seconds became a minute, and the minute became minutes. I radioed up to Jess, “all okay up there?”. After a few communications, we concluded that we probably went up the wrong way at some point. I followed up, and belayed Jess off of a precarious stance she had worked her way into. A few feet below was a burley rap anchor. I guess we were not at all the only team that had worked our way into this weird corner.
We rapped off the anchor back to our previous belay station. A guide from below had been working his and his clients way up to our stance. “Are you on Lion’s Way? Go left from there!”
We chatted with the guide as he worked his way up and we worked our way down, and asked him if he could pass so we could follow him. Finally, the beta we needed!
When on route, it’s beautiful
The rest of the climb went by smoothly and enjoyably as we had a good idea of where to go from that point forward. We ended up taking some somewhat contrived variations from that point forward that made the climb a little more involved than the original 5.6 rating. Overall, the climb was fun and scenic, and I’d happily repeat it now knowing where the heck to go.
The descent was a bit of a choss scramble for quite a while, but the rap anchors were very easy to locate with the huge cairns built all around it. We arrived back to camp in the afternoon, later than expected due to the route finding, but still an enjoyable day climb.
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