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The Monument. Lots of sun.
Abraxas is one of those routes that people would love to have climbed, but maybe not enough to actually climb it. Talk to anyone who frequents Smith and enjoys multipitch climbing and they'll tell you that they want to do it someday.
So go do it!
Honestly, it's really not that bad. This route's reputation for being runout is entirely untrue and it's reputation for being choss is only a little bit true. While there are certainly creaky, flaky holds, it's well protected and most(!) of the hard climbing is on excellent stone. That being said, many of the belays are directly in the leader's line of fire, so bring a helmet.
P1: 5.6-10a Climb any of the excellent sport routes of the Monument Base Area to the rightmost anchor.
P2: 5.9 Step right and then up to gain an obvious left-facing corner. The flakes in the corner sound hollow, but you're clipping shiny bolts. Hand traverse left (good gear) to two separate anchors. Of the two, we used the left one, but I'd recommend the right. (it's just a touch further out from under the line of fire...)
P3: 5.11- This is where things start getting interesting. Work up and left to a distinct crux moving above a fixed pin (FWIW, it held my 15 footer) to a hard-to-clip bolt. The rock here isn't awesome, but it gets the job done. Above this continue on better holds past a museum's worth of old bolts, occasionally clipping a shiny new one, until you reach a belay at a ledge. I opted to leave the rack at the belay. This made the upper half of this pitch quite engaging. Next time I'm bringing it.
P4 5.12- Moderate climbing up less than perfect rock past more ancient bolts (easily backed up with gear and newer bolts) spits you off at a nice stance below a steep swath of vastly better rock. Gymnastic and balancy moves on some booming flakes deposit you at the crux. After pulling through the difficulties onto the ledge, catch your breath (don't belay) and climb further up and right clipping shiny new bolts as you pull exciting moves in one of Smith's more airy positions. Belay at either of the anchors at the base of the Tombstone crack. (can't miss it)
P5: 5.10+ Pull a thin face move to gain the start of the splitter. It starts as fingers and gradually widens up to hands. Power through the fingers/off-fingers down low and savor the amazing (but kind of sharp) jamming above. Belay at a large, obvious ledge.
P6: 5.6 Climb up and left following an obvious weakness that will ultimately corkscrew up to the summit. Watch out for rope drag. There's not a convenient bolt anchor on the summit. Plan accordingly.
Descent: The whole route rappels easily. Anchors are down and east of the summit. We used two ropes, but there are rumors of a single 70 being sufficient. I bet you could make this work (possibly with trickery) but can't be sure, not having actually done it. Alternatively, scramble and walk back (north) to the grass and descend the large gully to the west between the Monument and Puddy's Tower.
Single rack to #4, all the cams you care to bring for the Tombstone Crack, (described elsewhere on this site)
Many (10+) draws including extendables. You probably don't need wires. Blasphemy, I know.
By Max Tepfer
From: Bend, OR
Dec 8, 2013
Note: The FFA info in the Watt's guide is vague and only given for distinct pitches. It's unclear exactly who freed the line in its entirety first, but I suspect it was Thomas Emde. (credited w/P3 in 2001) The crux was freed in in 1975 by Wayne Arrington and Ken Currens. Lastly, I gave it 3 stars largely due to its position, history, reputation and the Tombstone Crack. I'm sure many (my partners included) will find it far less appealing and have no interest in ever repeating it.