If you could just do one climb in the Southfork… What an awful question. Still, Broken Hearts is the answer, no matter who’s asking. It has the easiest approach of the big, multi-pitch climbs, it’s mostly protected from the wind, it has some spectacular pitches, and it has about the widest range of difficulty of any drainage in the Valley.
The key to the whole trip up this climb is the third pitch. It gets sun in the morning and the top will disappear in warm, consistently sunny weather. It is visible from the road, if you drive a couple hundred yards past the parking spot for the approach.
The first four pitches are moderate WI 3-4 climbing.
Pitch 5 is a WI 5 pillar, with the WI 6/M7 pitch Carotid Artery just to the left.
Pitch 6 is a WI 6 pillar that often looks easier than it is. Pitch 7 rarely forms, but when it does – well, the photo speaks for itself.
A few notes to supplement the guidebook Winter Dance, by Joe Josephson. The rappel anchor for pitch 3 is a tree high on the wall of the gully to climber’s right. The rappel atop the second pitch is from an ice anchor, check its integrity on the way up and be prepared to set your own or do the alternative descent if it looks dicey. Break the rap. down the first 2 pitches into two 30m sections, pulling the rope can be a frustrating experience otherwise. The ‘walk off’ described in the guide is feasible, but not trivial. It crosses some steep slopes and the break onto the ridge can be difficult to identify. Glass it before you try it and know that unless you have tracks in the snow to follow, it is the longer, more physically demanding alternative to descending the drainage.