South Early Winters Spire

Where: North Cascades, Washington
When: July 2008
Partners: DB
Route: South Arete (5.4)
Mileage/Gain: 5/2,600
Topo: South Early Winters Spire

The highpoint of the famous Liberty Bell Group at Washington Pass in the North Cascades of Washington, South Early Winters Spire offers a variety of interesting routes to its incredible summit, the most popular of which is arguably the South Arete (YDS 5.4).

Heading out one morning for a climb of the South Arete, we no sooner left the Blue Lake Trail and started up the climbers' trail on the final approach than we were approached by a large male mountain goat who was surely looking for handouts. And when he didn't get one right away, he began to follow us...just to make sure...all the way up the trail.

DB and her new friend

Eventually shaking our little groupie after we reached the base of the route and started up the beautiful rock, we awakened to the fact that we were back in that most spectacular of mountain ranges, my favorite range, the Cascades. And more specifically, the North Cascades!
The lower part of the South Arete from its base

Cutthroat Peak to the northwest

Blue Lake Peak to the south

As we neared the top, I put DB out on front as we approached a short knife-edge portion of the route and suggested she do her first lead. Without hesitation, she led out! Good job!
A couple moves into her first ever lead

With me retaking the lead after crossing the knife-edge, we worked our way up the supremely enjoyable route.
Fun climbing on the South Arete

The summit was soon within reach!
On the summit!

And, of course, eventually heading back down, DB once again led across the knife-edge, now the (somewhat) calm Zen master of granitic alpine knife-edges!
DB finishing up her lead back across the knife-edge