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The Smiley's Complete #23 - Lost Arrow Spire

The Smiley's Complete #23 - Lost Arrow Spire
The Smiley's Complete #23 - Lost Arrow Spire
The Smiley's Complete #23 - Lost Arrow Spire
The Smiley's Complete #23 - Lost Arrow Spire
May 20, 2011 -  Mark Smiley    

Our time in Yosemite had been great. Following a few rainy days, we decided to have a “light output” day and give the Lost Arrow Spire a go. Turns out, the hike up to Glacier Point took just about as much time as the climb itself. Let me paint the picture. The walls of the Yosemite Valley are about 2000 feet tall. The Spire pulls away from the wall right at the top, creating this 200-foot tall rock finger island that towers above it all.


To complete the route, and do the tyrolean traverse back across (traverse through air between two high points), you need three ropes. If your ropes are different thicknesses (like mine) you need to follow the geeky 18-step process below.

Rope A = thickest, Rope B = thinnest, Rope C = medium.

1. Tie the end of rope A to the anchor on the Valley rim (this is the starting point).
2. Rappel down all 200 feet of rope A to the notch between the rim and the spire.
3. Tie the end of rope A to the end of rope B, and the other end of rope B to your harness, which creates a 400 foot leash, connected to the top of the Valley rim.
4. Use rope C to climb/belay like normal. Ropes A and B are being trailed by the climber as you make your way up the Spire.
5. Once on top, pull in the slack of rope B (the leash) to get to rope A. Rope A is now spanning the gap between the rim and the spire.
6. Thread the other end of rope A through the anchor on top of the Spire and tie a tied off truckers hitch on rope A to secure it across the chasm.
7. Climber 1 hooks up a mini-traction to their harness and the rope.
8. Rope B is attached to the climber 1, and put on belay by climber 2.
9. Climber 1 uses a jumar (rope ascender) to pull themselves across, while the mini-traction makes it easy to gain ground (one way cinch) as you go across.
10. Once climber 1 makes it back to valley rim, and are off belay, climber 2 unties the truckers hitch on rope A.
11. Climber 2 ties the end of rope A to the end of rope B and C (B was used to belay climber 1 across).
12. Climber 1 pulls rope B across, which gets the other end of rope A to the valley rim, where climber 1 is.
13. Climber 1 ties the end of rope A to the anchor. Now, both ends of rope A are on the Valley rim side and rope C is spanning the gap as well.
14. Use rope C to shuttle the gear (and camera) back across the chasm.
15. Rope C is then tied to climber 2 and climber 1 puts them on belay with rope C.
16. Climber 2 attaches the mini-traction and pulls himself across the chasm, while being belayed by climber 1
17. Once across, untie one end of rope A from the anchor and pull the other end of the rope, causing the rope to go through the anchor on the Spire and back to the Valley Rim side.
18. Coil all the ropes, high five, walk back down to the Valley floor to celebrate and eat chips and salsa.

All that to say it's pretty involved. There are other ways to do it, but this worked for us. The exposure is amazing. We were there in the fall, so Yosemite Falls was more of a trickle. Regardless, it was beautiful.


Lost Arrow Spire, Tyrolean Traverse from Mark Smiley on Vimeo.


That wrapped up our climbing season for 2010. 27 classic climbs completed, we were still married, and even enjoyed one another’s company!

After a winter of working hard in Crested Butte to beef up the bank account we started the 2011 season with a climb of the notorious mudstone tower north of Moab, Utah, called the Titan. 900 feet of crumbly mud up the highest sandstone tower in North America! That’s next…..

Read more about the journey at


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