Alpine Rock - Grade III 11a, 6 pitches


North Early Winter Spire (NEWS) stands out among the Liberty bell group as it rises above Blue lake basin with its sheer west face being among the cleanest and steepest sweeps of granite in the whole basin.  The clean stripe of the West face route stands out against the dark wall, so much so that you would hardly believe that what you are looking at from all this ways away, is a finger crack. 

Climbing the upper lower angled cracks
Itinerary

An added bonus about NEWS is the approach.  It’s amongst the shortest and most pleasant of all of the spires.  After about an hour and half, we arrive at the base and cache our extra gear.  From here, it’s a couple of pitches of 5.7 – 5.8 climbing before the business begins.  Once at the huge ledge at the base of a shallow cave, the climb kicks up steeply, climbing beautiful corners and airy laybacks up to 5.10 that lead up to the hanging belay at the base of the crux pitch.  This pitch begins as an insecure finger crack with tricky feet, (that is mercifully short), before turning into wonderfully fun fingers, then hand crack climbing.  From here, an easy pitch and some scrambling lead to the summit of the least visited of all of the spires. 

The descent off of the North Spire is a breeze, thanks to a clean and direct, bolted rappel route down the West face.  Half a dozen rappels will bring you right back to where you left your packs at the base of the route, allowing you to climb the route with minimal gear on your back.  Fast parties may still have additional time to climb another route on NEWS, or make an afternoon ascent of the South Arete on SEWS, right next door.

Skills Required

While the West Face of North is technically rated 5.11a, 5.10 climbers can still enjoy this route by "French Freeing" a few moves on the crux pitch.