Tombstone Tower, South Ridge and Ledgelette, East Notch

Date: May 26, 2018

Partner: Karina Benavides

I had climbed Tombstone Tower via the North Arete with Carl just days before, but the approach via Gunsight Gap was in good condition and Karina and I decided to return to investigate the South Ridge. We also hoped to climb Ledgelette which was the last major peak in the Sky Pilot group that I hadn’t climbed.

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Karina topping out in the Gunsight Gap couloir.

The South Ridge was the line taken by  on the first ascent. They reportedly used a shoulder stand a few pitons for aid to surmount the initial roof.

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The South Ridge in profile, with the crux roof obvious above the large ledge.

While descending from the North Edge, I’d looked at the roof and thought that it might be reasonable to free climb. When I actually set foot to the rock, it turned out to be much more awkward and poorly protected than it appeared. Instead, after fiddling around for a while to find a knifeblade piton and a small nut, I climbed the face just left of the roof before making a somewhat committing reach out right to regain the arete (5.9 or so). From there, a few more moves up a loose corner gained 4th class terrain leading to the summit. Tombstone Tower is not exactly a popular objective and this may have been the first free ascent of this route.

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Karina climbing the final arete to the summit.

We then climbed up the snow gulley to gain the notch between Ledge and Ledgelette which is home to an impressive house-sized chockstone. We climbed the face on the left side of the chockstone at about 5.6 (I had done this previously while climbing the Window Route on Ledge). From a belay near the top of the chockstone, a slightly trickier pitch (maybe a move of 5.8) led to the flat summit area.

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Karina climbing the couloir towards the Ledge-Ledgelette notch with Tombstone Tower below.

We made two rappels with a single rope to descend, adding new cord to the anchor at the top which was completely bleached and frayed.

The rock quality in this part of the Sky Pilot group is certainly far from perfect. However, both these routes make interesting short adventures to rarely climbed summits in an otherwise popular area.

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Karina climbing on the East Notch route on Ledgelette.