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Lower Brother
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Absolutely Free Left Side T 
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Absolutely Free, Center 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 700', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
Page Views: 4,854
Submitted By: outdooreric on Jun 3, 2009

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (24)
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BETA PHOTO: Absolutely Free Center (and Left)

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


Characterized by a difficult approach and longish descent with three great pitches of roped climbing this climb is an off the beaten track, classic Yosemite adventure climb. Approach by walking up and right from the toe of Lower Brother, taking a left at the first major ramp system. From here 250 feet of scrambling (some 4th or maybe easy 5th) will take you to the base of the route.

P1: Two options, a 5.7 exciting chimney or a 5.9 flake, we took the chimney and weren't disappointed. Belay at the highest ledge at the base of a perfect thin hands splitter.

P2: Climb the excellent splitter. Pass an old bolt casing (optional belay) and continue up the left facing corner. Lots of hands to off hands with an awkward bulge/horn to pass on this part of the pitch. Belay at a nice ledge with trees after 175 feet.

P3: Again a couple options; we continued up the most logical line, the groove to OW corner. The intimidating OW above isn't too bad with lieback techniques and a 5" piece. Continue with the chimney above and belay on another comfortable ledge.


To descend, first climb up another 200-300 feet (some 4th or easy 5th class) to the base of the upper headwall, then descend climber's left down Michael's Ledge. There isn't much of a trail and almost no cairns, so use your best judgement as for when to get off the ledges. Its best not to leave anything at the base as the descent doesn't take you anywhere near the start of the climb.


nuts, double cams .6-3", single 4", slings. Optional extra 1.5-3" and/or a 5" piece.

Photos of Absolutely Free, Center Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: An angle of the Valley I had not seen before
An angle of the Valley I had not seen before
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Silverman pauses for gear in the splitter pit...
Dave Silverman pauses for gear in the splitter pit...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sean Ghant enjoying the final moves on the last pi...
Sean Ghant enjoying the final moves on the last pi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lauren Morrison
Lauren Morrison
Rock Climbing Photo: Absolutely Free- View from the start of the scramb...
BETA PHOTO: Absolutely Free- View from the start of the scramb...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave looks over the off-hands pitch
Dave looks over the off-hands pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up the final 5.9 OW pitch.
Looking up the final 5.9 OW pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Lauren stabs a foot as she laybacks past the off-h...
Lauren stabs a foot as she laybacks past the off-h...
Rock Climbing Photo: Start

Comments on Absolutely Free, Center Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 16, 2016
By Doug Hemken
Jun 9, 2009

P1 and P3 (P4 in Reid) are good, P2 (P2 & P3 in Reid) is great! The 4th class approach and top-out are nice: they keep the riff-raff away.

I would compare this to the Northeast Face of Lower Cathedral Spire, another "former classic" that I really enjoyed.

Take two pieces in the 4-5 inch range.
By Sheets
From: Livermore, CA
Jun 16, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I've done this twice within the last couple of months since I really enjoyed the climbing. Take plenty of # .75-1 pieces for the splitter crack.
By Rob Dillon
Jun 17, 2009

A topout variation to the right avoids the wide via finger-sized laybacking through a series of corners, 5.9.

Rapping with 2 60's is pretty straightforward. Bring a big piece of webbing/cordelette in case the slung boulder on top has been unslung.
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
Jul 18, 2009

Painfully obvious linkup is to continue up Hawkman's Escape, another 8 pitches of old school 5.9 climbing that lead to one of the great, obscure, Yosemite summits. The top of Lower Brother is wild.

Buyer beware with Hawkman's - it's serious up there. DNF zones, and can't pull through some cruxes on gear.

Some good pics:

And here:
By squiddo
From: Mountain View, CA
Sep 18, 2009

Great route that deserves more traffic. I found the last part of the 4th class to be.....5th.
By Osprey Overhang
From: ...
Apr 2, 2010

This climb is up there with the best of them. Its not too difficult to find and you may not know you are at the bottom of a classic when you do get to the start.

Leave your bags in your car so you don't have to walk back to the start of the climb after descending Michael's Ledge.

I've always taken the variation (.8) out left then up for the last pitch.
By Tom Fralich
From: Fort Collins, CO
Oct 14, 2011

Both the approach and descent were more straightforward than expected. We roped up for the approach and reached the start in 1.5 pitches. I found the splitter crack pretty hard...wish I had smaller hands. Definitely take a #5 for P3.
By Michael Ybarra
From: on the road
Dec 30, 2011

The approach isn't bad, the climbing is very fun, but the descent totally blows (took us longer than the climb), costing the overall experience at least a star. The ideal rack: doubles, green through blue, a #4 and a #5.
By Yosemitesam
Apr 16, 2013

What an stellar route! Definitely some low 5th on the approach and descent. Was gripped a couple times in my crappy approach shoes.
The Reid guide says pro to 3" on this one and I would be inclined to agree. We took one #4 but never used it. Makes me wonder if the first ascent team avoided the offwidth on the last pitch also? The finger crack left of the offwidth is way fun and aesthetic.
All the stuff you read about the splitter pitch being awesome is totally true!
Didn't have much trouble with Michaels Ledge either. When in doubt stay close to the wall.
By benkraft
From: San Francisco, California
Feb 17, 2015

No intact rap stations on route, and walk-off isn't that bad (but probably knocks rocks onto the base routes).
By fisherman
From: Central California
May 11, 2016

We did this in 4 pitches, breaking up P2 into two. New looking rap rings are atop P1 and out on the face left of route, left of the perfect splitter on P2. New-ish rope around tree atop P2. Could probably rap this route easily with 2 ropes. We had a single 70, but decided to do the walk off. A single 70 might be close. Also spotted some tat around a tree to rap the approach gully.
By Ed Henicle
May 16, 2016

We took doubles to #3, single #4, single #5

TR here:

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