gorerangerock_5.gif Thor Tower, Valhalla (5.7)

On June 25, 2013, Elke Dratch, Katie Larson, and I headed to Thor Tower, on the southern of the two very long E ridges of Valhalla. We gained the col W of Thor from its S side (some steep snow; we roped up as I did not have an ax) after passing through the Freya-Thor saddle and descending a bit. Then a bit of searching got us to a reasonable route: we traversed horizontally out onto the N face, where there was broken rock that seemed like it would work to get to the summit. Elke and I had gotten stopped at this tower after descending from Valhalla (descending Loki Spire unroped, 4th class) in 2010. At that time I thought there would be a 5.2 or so route on this area of Thor’s N face.

After one attempt up a slab that was too steep and holdless, I backed down and tried a little farther east and lower. That worked with one beautiful 5.6 or maybe 5.7 pitch (three pieces of protection) up to easy ground just E of the summit. Elke and Katie followed with no difficulty. There was no cairn or rappel sling in the summit area.

Then we rappelled down (two ropes) beside the route into the N side gully (with lots of loose rock) that took us down to the wonderful ice-filled lake, and then back out the way we came, via the high plateau at 11900 feet. Total time was 12.5 hours. A great day in perfect weather. The views from a tower such as this, in the middle of the fantastic South Rock Creek basin, are in many ways better than views from higher summits.


 The impressive east side of Thor Tower, with the Thor-Freya col on left and Asgard Ridge on right:

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The N face of Thor. Our climbing route was around the corner from the right skyline.

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Approaching the col W of Thor. I did not bring an ax, so it made sense to use the rope here and let my friends lead.

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This view, taken after just finishing the ski down Valhalla on June 22, 2011, shows our pitch very well. The ledge in from the col is clear, and then up an angled slab right below the summit.

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Elke starting up the crux. The rock here was fantastic, as is typical in this part of the range. The first 12 feet or so were strenuous, as there was little in the way of footholds and we did not have rock shoes. (Photo by Katie Larson)

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Katie just past the crux:

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A happy Stan after the pitch. I had not done much rock clinbing in recent years, so leading a nice pitch was exhilarating. (Photo by Katie Larson)

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Elke starting the rappel. The climbing pitch is the short angled corner rising from right to left and ending just below Katie’s head. One can easily walk into this area from the col out of frame to the right.

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The remarkable lake just below the tower, in the east basin of Valhalla.

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Freya Tower (climbed by Jonathan Kriegel and me in 2011), viewed from Thor summit:

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Valhalla from Thor. A couple years ago Jonathan Kriegel and I skied the prominent curving line left of the summit, having ascended from Vail. We exited to Rock Creek TH. The little bump at left with a steep left side is Loki Tower, which can be climbed or descended with easy class 4. Elke and I descended it in 2010 when we climbed Valhalla from Vail and descended to Rock Creek TH.

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Valhalla Peak and Thor Tower.

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Here is a nice view, taken one week after our Thor climb, of Valhalla and Thor from the Rain Ridge. Thor Tower is just right of the long snow gully, left of center. (Photo by Katie Larson)
The long ridge behind Thor, leading to the north subsummit of Valhalla known as Point Odin, can be called Asgard Ridge. The flat ridge behind Odin is the Grand Traverse, with the peak at right being North Traverse Peak. Joe Kramarsic and I climbed all of Asgard Ridge from the E to the summit, and descended to Vail, in July 1997; rope used. The beautiful meadows above my head might be called Asgard Meadows.

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