Lotus Flower Tower (V 5.10)

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The actual rack for the first free ascent of Lotus Flower Tower.

The actual rack for the first free ascent of Lotus Flower Tower.

In case you’re headed up to the Northwest Territories for a go at this Fifty Classic Climbs classic, you may want some further Beta.

Getting up/Getting Off

Hardly anyone has actually freed the crux 16th pitch (rated 5.10c, but more like stiff 5.11) of the LFT since Steve Levin, Mark Robinson, and Sandy Stewart made the FFA in 1977. It’s a dirty, wet roof. A perfect hand crack beckons to the left, however the topo calls this temptation A1 to 5.9 R. If your ethics allow it, just stay on route, pull on a piece and get it over with.

Many parties cut left on the last two pitches, avoiding the 5.8 OW. This 60-meter stretcher is dirty and loose. Best to stay on route — this way you won’t have to scramble around on top trying to find the rap route. Take extra care coming down the first two raps from the top — these are notorious rope snatchers. Don’t forget a knife. Worst case, you can cut a snagged rope and continue down. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to pack an emergency 50-meter 6-millimeter cord. In 2000, rappel stations were added on the right side of the belay ledge on pitch 10, keeping you to the right and outside of the chimneys — take these. The last rap is a doozy, especially in a storm, where you’ll be forced to rap directly down a waterfall. Luckily it’s the last rap!

Other Temptations After ticking the tower, other routes may lure you: Club International or Beppin on Bustle Tower, or The Hustler on Phenocryst Spire (all named after adult magazines). Though striking, these lines offer thick lichen and looseness. If the Flower Tower is El Cap, then Proboscis is Half Dome. It’s a dangerous trek to get there from Fairy Meadows. You’ll need an ice axe to ascend a steep gully, and will encounter spicy raps to get to its base.

Gear for Lotus Flower Tower

Two sets of TCUs to 1” and Friends from #1.25 to #4 (extra #2 - #3)

Two sets nuts; four each from #4 to #7 (HB Offsets and FROST nuts useful). The HBs fit the pin scars, while the FROST nuts let you live vicariously like an old dad. Plus, they just fit real nice and are easy to clean. Still, don’t forget the nut tool.