Center Drip

Center Drip

It took Wayne Wallace over a dozen attempts to achieve the first ascent of Center Drip, which he calls “the best line on the entire face.” Thankfully today we have better weather forecasting and more abundant beta, so you shouldn’t have to slog to the base of the wall too many times to get it done! This route begins in the large couloir that runs up the right side of the Spider, then follows a drainage up to a small snowfield before traversing out left onto a large rock buttress. The positioning and exposure of the last pitches on the buttress are superb.

Overview:

This route begins in the large couloir that runs up the right side of the Spider, then follows a drainage up to a small snowfield before traversing out left onto a large rock buttress. The positioning and exposure of the last pitches on the buttress are superb.

Stats

WI3. If it’s thin there may be some easy mixed climbing. There are seven documented ascents of this route.

Description

Photo #1: The 2nd short rock band in thin conditions.

Cross the bergschrund(s) and enter the large couloir on the right side of the face. There are two cliffy rock bands at the base of the couloir. Depending on conditions you may be able to walk over them on snow or have to climb over them on ice (WI3) or rock (M-easy-but-uninspiring). In my opinion, this is one of the scariest areas of the Spider as the terrain above you creates a giant funnel, and there’s lots of improbably overhanging choss at the top of the couloir. Put your belays in sheltered spots and tuck in against the upper (left) wall once through the rock bands.

Photo 1: Taking the right variation, about to follow the ice up left and out of the large couloir.

Above the rock bands you can immediately head slightly left and up an obvious drainage, which should be low-angle ice (WI2), or continue right up the big couloir to find a short (2m), out-of-sight curtain of ice around the corner that heads back left. Note that if you take the immediate left option you will need to quickly exit the drainage by climbing up and right - following it too far will take you to a small snowfield that’s part of the original Arachnophobia route. Whichever option you choose, climb up for a bit more than 60 meters following the ice until you reach the bottom of the small snowfield on the upper part of the face.

In lean conditions there may be only one appealing way to exit the snowfield which is to work your way a couple meters left, out onto the exposed rock buttress, to a narrow ice flow, following the path of the first ascent. In icy conditions the drip may connect more directly to the bottom of the snowfield, or you may find ice going straight up the cliff at the top of the snowfield. This may be the “obvious unclimbed line [...] to the right of the Center Drip” mentioned in the Mt Hood Climber’s Guide, which was climbed by Adrien Costa in 2022. From the beginning of the ice to the summit snowfield is about 60 meters, but expect to break it into two pitches due to rope drag. In thin conditions the pitch will meander quite a bit and you may have to do some easy mixed climbing. Once you reach the final snowfield slog straight up to reach the summit.