Burgundy Spire - North Face (attempt), July 2007
Silver Star Massif with Burgundy Spire at left (just right of low col) as seen from the North Cascades Highway.

Yep, another east-of-the-crest objective courtesy of the summer of THE SUCK! Yeah yeah, I've lamented the lack of summer enough as it is this year, but man it's sure hard to keep a positive attitude! Anyway, following an enjoyable climb of Goat Wall's Prime Rib the day before, Martin and I set out early Sunday morning from James' house in Winthrop (much appreciated James!).

We parked at the large pull-out off hwy20, shouldered our packs and proceeded to hike down from the road (yes, down...not up) towards Early Winter Creek before beginning the steep, dusty grunt up to Burgundy Col. I've hiked this trail twice before, both times on the approach to climb Silver Star Mountain. I can tell you that the trail to the col is still as much of a pain-in-the-ass as I remember it being. It took us somewhere under four hours to reach the col I think. (Photos: SV)

Click thumbnails below to enlarge...
Sunbeams over Burgundy Spire
Sunbeams illuminate the underside of clouds above Burgundy Spire early that morning.
View from Burgundy Col
Overlooking Early Winter Creek Valley from Burgundy Col with South and North Early Winter Spires and Liberty Bell featuring most prominently at upper left. Beneath Liberty Bell stands Le Petit Cheval (a new ~5.7 route has been recently put up on this aesthetic sub-summit - Spontenaety Arete). Across the valley from Liberty Bell, Cutthroat Peak's summit is still obscured by clouds while further west the very tip of Black Peak can be seen peeking above the clouds.
Start of North Face proper
A party climbs the first pitch on the North Face.

Martin and I were entirely unprepared for the arctic wind that was blowing at the col and we froze our asses off waiting for an impossibly slow party from BC to climb up the first gully pitch. It isn't entirely obvious where the climbing to the ledge above really starts, but suffice to say that if you see some runners while looking up one of the many gullies slightly below and skier's left of the col, that's probably the way up. Easy, although somewhat licheny and loose climbing leads to the prominent sandy ledge beneath the North Face proper.
Looking west from below North Face
Panorama looking west from ledge below North Face.

Walking on the sandy ledge then some scrambling on kitty litter and choss leads to a ledge from where I would belay Martin up the first 5.8 pitch. Neither of us were too terribly impressed with the climbing or route quality thus far...it'd better start getting better soon! But, first we had to wait some more for the party before us to complete their snail's pace ascent of the first pitch. Martin and were practially blue in the face from the cold by the time our turn to climb the pitch finally came around. Following up flakes at about center face, Martin started up and immediately began bitching about how wobbly the flakes were and that the pro kinda sucked. Carefully working upwards to a set of flakes higher up, Martin inavertently pulled a car door-sized flake clean off the face while attempting to make a move. I was fortunately out of the line of fire as the liberated flake came crashing down right next to me and continued down into the gully we had just climbed up from. Thank God there wasn't another party behind us!

And with that, the climb was over...well, Martin had some sketchy down-climbing to do in order to reach my belay ledge and we still had to rappel down the gully, but it was definitely over. Hiking back down along the bench where the campsites are located later that afternoon, Martin and I encountered a party that had just returned from a climb of both Burgundy Spire's North Face as well as some other route on Chianti Spire. Wow, impressive! They noted that the climbing on the North Face improves significantly following our turn-around point and that the route is definitely worth doing. Hmm... There are like, what...maybe two more pitches of climbing beyond the face we bailed from? Perhaps a link-up starting with Paisano Pinnacle would provide greater value - if only it too wasn't as loose.
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