<-- Map of summer 2018
     climbing roadtrip 
     (click to enlarge)

Route: South Face w/ variations (One For the Red Team + South Face P3-4 + Magic in the Middle P5-6) (5.9, 6p)

TR #: 300

Category: Colorado       Summit Elev: 11,540 ft       Rock Type: Gneiss & Biotite Schist

Partner: Annie Hines



Zowie is the left-hand of two prominent towers on the south side of Otis Peak. Viewed from the south, Zowie looks a lot like the Petit Grepon (apparently some parties have climbed Zowie thinking they were climbing the Petit Grepon). Zowie has several moderate routes up its south face. We climbed to the narrow summit in 6 pitches, creating a direct line to the top by linking a combination of routes as follows: for Pitches 1 & 2, we climbed One For the Red Team, a 2-pitch direct start to the South Face up a striking dihedral; for Pitches 3 & 4, we climbed the South Face, which was rather unremarkable climbing; and for Pitches 5 & 6, we climbed to the summit via the final two pitches of Magic in the Middle, which was some of the best climbing on the route. The "Red Face Magic" link-up!

Due to a forecast of thundershowers by 2pm, we started early, leaving the Glacier Gorge trailhead at 3:50am. We were climbing shortly after 6am, and were on the summit of Zowie just before 10am under clear skies. After a straightforward yet painful (I opted to not bring up approach shoes) descent back to the base of the route, we basked in the sun enjoying an early lunch. By the time we finished lunch, telltale cumulus clouds were starting to form above. We hiked out, stopping briefly at the Loch so Annie could jump in, and just as we arrived back at the trailhead, large droplets of rain started to spot the pavement. An hour later I was sitting in a Starbucks while rain pounded down outside. A typical summer day in Colorado!

This climb wasn't all that challenging, but the rock was mostly solid, the climbing was engaging with a couple of short really good sections, and the tiny summit was awesome. Another fun day climbing with Annie! 

The following page gives some photos from the climb.


Glacier Gorge Trailhead to Base of Zowie: 1 hour 52 minutes
Climb Route: 3 hours 30 minutes
Descent to Base: 55 min
Hike from Base to Trailhead (includes jumping in The Loch): 1 hour 44 minutes
Total car-to-car time (includes breaks): 9.5 hours



Photo descriptions:
Start at Glacier Gorge Trailhead, hike trail to Alberta Falls, hike past The Loch for ~1 mi, take trail to Andrews Glacier, tower on right after ~4 miles of hiking. Look for the shortcut around the north side of East Glacier Knob (shown on some maps and not others).
1. Look for the shortcut around the north side of East Glacier Knob, which starts in the location shown in the photo. This shortcut is shown on some maps and not on others. It is not as well-travelled as the main trail so it is easy to miss. But once you are on it it is easy to follow, even in the dark.

ONE FOR THE RED TEAM. 5.8. Climb the left-facing dihedral up the middle of the "Flatiron" at the lower right side of the south face. 
2.    3   
2. The "Flatiron" at the lower right side of the south face. The dihedral is obvious.
3. Looking up from the base of the dihedral.
4. Looking down from the top of the dihedral.

ONE FOR THE RED TEAM. 5.easy. Continue up easy but runnout face to the large ledge above.
5. Easy yet exposed and scenic climbing on Pitch 2. Sharkstooth in the distance.

SOUTH FACE. 5.6. Climb dihedral, chimney, and then crack systems for a long pitch. Can be linked with Pitch 4.
6.    7 
6. Looking up the dihedral that starts of Pitch 3.
7. The last half of Pitch 3 becomes a little less obvious. I headed a bit up and left in this photo. There was an offwidth up and right that I backed off of.

SOUTH FACE. 5.easy. Continue on easy climbing up and left to the base of a steep red wall. Can be linked with Pitch 3.
8.   8. Easy climbing.

MAGIC IN THE MIDDLE. 5.9. Head up the center of the steep wall, climbing a right-facing dihedral through a roof to a splitter handcrack, ending at a ledge below the final summit block.
9. Looking up the right-facing dihedral. This is a good pitch.
10. A splitter hand crack midway up the pitch.

MAGIC IN THE MIDDLE. 5.8+. Climb the thin crack just right of the final offwidth pitch of the South Face route.
11. A precariously-perched block at the base of the wall. It's hard to avoid using it for a hand/foot-hold if you climb the thin crack option.
12. Annie leading the thin crack. The offwidth of the regular South Face route is to the left.
13. The thin crack. Careful moving around the block in the photo - it vibrates a bit.

Awesome summit!
14. Summit shadow.
15. Annie on the summit, Sharkstooth in the distance. What a bluebird morning. Hard to believe that about 3 hours later it would start to rain....

Make two raps (single 60) to notch on north side of Zowie, starting at bolted station on NE end of summit. Scramble west down gully for awhile and make a final rap from brown Metolius bolts over a chokstone in a chimney, and scramble back around to the base. 
16. The rap anchor on the summit.
 Rapping from the narrow summit. 
18. This photo shows the location of the second rap anchor.
19. Scrambling down the gully. I had opted not to bring approach shoes for this, and I think next time I would bring them.
20. Looking up the gully we scrambled down between Raps 2 and 3. The top of Zowie Tower is on the right.
21. This photo shows the location of the third rap anchor, a pair of Metolius bolts.
22. Rap 3.
23. Some garnet crystals. Nut tool for scale.
24. Late morning light on Zowie after the climb. The clouds were developing...
25. Annie jumped in The Loch. Refreshing!
26. The shortcut location on the way out. Seems that the park service has made an effort to hide the trail with a tree.
27. Pretty purple trail trim.