Intro/Strategy

267 Incredibly steep and moderate, with fantastic Awhahnee Ledge 350' up, Leaning Tower is a fun first wall for folks who like their rock steep. For many, the radical overhanging nature and the fact that the route starts off a  3rd class ledge 400' off the ground which adds instant exposure, can be too much for a total wall novice. The cruxes are more awkward, or flaring placements, than super thin. The rack is light because most pitches contain many bolts or fixed pieces, or the cracks take a nice variety of gear. As of 2015, the popularity of free climbing on the route had made aid climbing the pitch to Ahwahnee and the first pitch afterward more challenging as fixed pieces were periodically removed for handholds--no big deal for someone with at least one wall under their belt but sometimes challenging for total beginners.

 

*Plan: There are many equally-viable strategies for climbing the Tower. The good news is the approach trail climbs out a beautifully exposed ledge, which is technically on the mountain and legal to bivy on, so this gives you leeway if you find the going slow at first or run into a lot of other folks. Most parties make it to Ahwahnee Ledge their first day, and spend a long second day getting to the top.

 

*Approach: The trail which starts from the bathrooms at the Bridaveil Falls parking lot can be vague. There is an apartment-sized boulder just behind and toward the Leaning Tower from the bathrooms, so if you head over to that boulder and look for a small trail on its far side and continue up this toward the wall you're on the right track. It is difficult to avoid doing some boulder-hopping on the approach your first time, so break your loads up accordingly or consider taking a hike up to the Tower on a rest day to get the trail dialed. The last 100'  of the 3rd and 4th class ledge to the base of the route definitely feels more like 5.5 with a haul bag. Most parties fix a line for this last section of the approach, from tree to tree, and clip into the line as they shuttle their stuff over to the base of the route.

 

*Ledge: Ahwahnee is a palace for 3, comfy for 4 or 5. While the Tower is radically overhanging rain or snow does hit Ahwahnee enough to require bivy sacs during a storm. Dano Ledge, just below the Summit is an awesome bivy, and there is also a nice flat spot at the top of the Notch, where the rappels enter the gully/chimney.

 

*Descent: From the top of the Tower you rap/rap+downclimb two pitches of low angle slab to the notch above the chimney/gully that splits the Leaning tower and B.O.L.T. walls. From there you can't get lost, rapping down the chimney several times to the ground which comes out a couple hundred feet above where the 4th class approach ledge departs the trail. Depending on the conditions, and how much stuff you're carrrying, it is possible to rap with one rope (with short sections of 4th class(more like canyoneering) downclimbing until the last two rappels.

 

*The Elements: Leaning Tower gets Sun mid-afternoon to sunset. While outrageously steep, water does blow in in places and also run down the mountain so the route is not totally dry in a storm. The descent is very tricky/dangerous in a storm as you must descend low-angle slabs first and then a loose chimney/gully system.

 

History

Speed