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Ajax Green is alive and well, living and climbing in the Gunks, where I first met him when he was as a teenager back in the '70s.
My partner Chuck thinks this is a 2 star climb. He awards extra points for the alpine experience. I'm thinking maybe 1.5 stars. The second pitch of Age Axe is very good but a little dangerous. P1, 3, 4, and 5 are pretty easy but pleasant. P6 is hard, but a little grungy with a death block. So, I'm thinking 1.5 stars.
Rossiter calls P2 10b/c and P6, the last pitch, 10c. Gillett calls these pitches 10a. So I'll split the difference and call P2 and P6 10b.
Approach: Hike to the left side of the NE face. As you round the prow to the SE face, there is a nice "apron" slab with right-facing flakes on its right side. 100' above is a large, low-angle, right-leaning, right-facing corner capped by a roof. This is about 100' right of the start of East Prow.
P1 5.7: Angle right onto the apron to a thin RP crack. A few tiny nuts protect some 7ish moves. Easier climbing leads up and left onto a low-angle slab. Angle left and belay at the base of the large, right-facing dihedral.
P1: 5.10b s?: Place gear high in the dihedral, step down a bit, and traverse left around the arÍte to a low angle slab. Climb up to a fixed pin at the base of a crack. Back this pin up, and try to get gear at least several feet higher (may want to aid on the pin to place the higher gear). The problem is is that if you fall on the crux moves above you will hit the slab unless you get gear high in the crack. Reach left for good holds and mantle (crux). Clip an original 1/4" bolt (Screamer) and do a few more hard moves to get established on the lower angle slab above. Good gear here. Angle slightly right staying just left of the arÍte with no gear (maybe an RP at an overlap) but on big knobs for maybe 30'. Gillett implies that you are following the crack, but in reality, the crack is around the arÍte to the right on a very steep face. This climbing is exposed and fun, but be careful. At a left-angling, almost horizontal flake/thin crack, finger traverse left to a ledge.
P3: 5.8: Step right and climb an easy fun shallow right facing corner. Harder moves lead up opposing corners. Continue up the right hand crack system until it is possible to move left to a small ledge with an old 1/4" bolt. This bolt is unnecessary since there are good nuts in a crack just to the right, and the climbing is easy. Perhaps the FA party belayed here. Move left from the bolt and up and left on flakes to a ledge. Climb a shallow, left-facing corner (or a looser corner further left) to a good ledge with a block that can be slung. This is the "horn" mentioned in Gillett. East Prow joins here.
P4 5.8: Climb an open book with a hand/fist crack. There are only a few mandatory fist moves, since most of the way there are good knobs and other holds. Be careful of loose rock, since you are directly above your belayer. Clip two old bolts for a directional and walk to the right end of the ledge.
P5 5.7: Climb up and right along an easy ramp to the base of some big left facing flakes. Climb these or, as we did, traverse further right and then up some thin flakes. At the grassy ledge, move far left. If you climbed via the right hand variation, you will notice what appears to be a chipped hold that makes the walk left on the grassy ledge reasonable. Before seeing this hold I was considering crawling the ledge.
P6 10b: The difficulties begin right off the ledge. Climb the sustained crack for about 20' to a stance on some grass bogs. This involves a few handjams, fingerjams and laybacks. Gillett mentions 3 fixed nuts, but they are not longer there. The crux for me was hanging in, getting the gear. This crack is a little grungy and very different in character from the climbing to this point. A little higher is a large block wedged in the corner that thumps and looks very dangerous. Gingerly climb over this, and don't put gear in it. Higher up, step left at a bulge around the corner onto a welcome rest ledge on the face. Step back right and climb a short crack to the huge loose ledge. You can get gear for the belay about 20' back from the edge at some hand-sized cracks. I linked P5 and P6 using double ropes, running one rope directly up the corner above the belayer to the crux crack.
Descent: As described under East Prow, it is possible to walk towards Chiefshead and then back down along a ramp that is not visible from above. We chose the safer alternative of continuing further along the grassy ledge until it was possible to zig zag easily down to the talus. This descent is clearly visible from above and totally safe, with no fall potential, with a couple of short 3rd class sections.
Single set nuts including brass. Micro cams. Doubles from green Alien to #2.5 Friend/gold Camalot, singles to #4 Friend/#3 Camalot. Screamer for the first bolt. Double ropes to bail.
Starting the crux moves on P2. Chuck eventually go...
On the fun knobby runout. Last gear is at the oran...
Looking down from the top of P3. Chuck has just tr...
At the top of P4, the 5.8 fist crack shared with E...
Taken from Keyhole on Longs Peak. Age Axe exits le...
|By Bernard Gillett|
Aug 17, 2004
Ivan, you may be right: "Angle slightly right staying just left of the arÍte with no gear (maybe an RP at an overlap) but on big knobs for maybe 30'. Gillett implies that you are following the crack, but in reality, the crack is around the arÍte to the right on a very steep face". I looked at your photos, and then my topo (and Rossiter's topo), and it appears as though the little crack I drew above the bolt should be on the right side of the arete. But I think I remember putting gear in that crack?? Maybe I remembering the gear placement after the pin, but before the bolt: you turn the corner left, but then reach back right to get an awkward placement in the crack above the pin (this is where you said it may be a good idea to aid up to get that piece). Sound right? But I think I also remember doing that higher up, after the bolt. You can reach around to the right and put in a piece or two -- does this sound feasible? I may be way off; it's been some time since I last did that route.========
|By Ivan Rezucha|
From: Fort Collins, CO
Aug 17, 2004
You clip the pin (runout but easy at this point, after traversing left out of the corner). Gear at the pin backs it up. Then a difficult move with small feet to get gear maybe 2 feet higher than the pin. Then move left to the bucket, mantle, clip the bad bolt. Then several more thin moves to a good stance. Good gear on your right (medium nuts and small cam) in a short crack on the left side of the orange block that is clear in the photos. From there it's runout just left of the arete with a possible poor brass nut in an overlap until you get to the crack/flake that leads left to the belay.
|By Mike Carnes|
Jul 29, 2008
Great route with a great setting and position. The first 5.10 pitch seemed a little spicy to me since the bolt might not even hold body weight. Rusty 1/4 " with an aluminum hanger and in the business. I'm all for keeping the bold but this could really use replacement. Any thoughts from the peanut gallery???? Other than that I would classify it as a great route that is a must do for all those considering it. The upper 5.10 headwall is superb and everything in between has it all from slab to splitter crack.
From: Golden, CO
Oct 6, 2010
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b R
Fun route and great option if the Sickle or Barb are overcrowded. The description above seems spot on to me, nice writeup. Particularly accurate in describing the moves on the first 5.10 pitch, which I felt to be the route crux.
+1 to update that rusty ancient bolt that protects you from decking in the midst of the crux. I found those moves significantly more difficult than the rest of the route due to the very serious no-fall nature of that bolt and so give an 'R' rating. I'd remove the 'R' once the bolt is replaced.
Overall, good climbing and wished the last pitch was three times longer.
|By Kevin Landolt|
From: Fort Collins, Wyoming
Aug 7, 2011
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- E2 5b R
I felt Age Axe made for an enjoyable outting with great views and decent climbing. The crux is pretty unique and super cool.