Guffey Tower (as told by Tom McLeod) by Bob Boyles

Most anyone who has driven ID Highway 78 from Walter’s Ferry to Murphy will notice the large rhyolite tower that stands out on the west side of the Snake River below the nearby Guffey Butte. There are several free standing towers, or spires on the volcanic ridge but this one stands out as the tallest. For rock climbers, this spire seems to say, “Try me.”

Guffey Tower Bob Boyles Photo

In the early 70s a team of Boise climbers including Tom McLeod, Dan McHale, and Charlie Christ decided to give this a go. Celebration Park was years away from being established and the Guffey Bridge had yet to be converted into a foot bridge so they approached the tower from the highway 78 side of the river. The north side of the spire overhangs for most of its height and lacking the gear needed to do a long bolted aid climb, they decided to try the south side. They managed to free climb the lower part of the spire to the large ledge but the upper part required aid. Dan led the final pitch using a hand drill and quarter inch bolts. Lacking hangers and only having one nut for the bolts, Dan would drill a hole, sling a small nylon runner over the bolt and then put the nut on to secure the runner from slipping off. After drilling a new hole and placing a bolt, Dan removed the single nut from the lower bolt and placed it on the upper one while standing in etriers. He repeated this until he reached the top and then Tom and Charlie followed until they were all on the summit. Once on the summit they realized that there were no suitable places in which to secure anchors for their rappel so Dan placed another single bolt in the brittle rock and they rappelled off. Tom described the rappel as the “scariest he had ever done.”

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