BETA PHOTO: hand drawn topos of the sector (circa Nov 2011)
A slab and groove climb with a mixture of permanent and removable protection. The crux on the fourth pitch is a great primer for Laurel Knob climb: a teetering rock up on tenuous smears, but with reasonable protection.
P1. Pad up onto the slabs about 50 feet left of Mike Fischesserís Girdle Traverse. There is an obvious left facing feature in the bulge overhead. Clip a bolt, an continue up the base of the bulge. There is a nice #3 Camalot to protect the moves as you stand up and a high bolt will keep you from plopping back onto the slab. Bust the 5.8+ crux on crystals, clip another bolt and trend slightly right to a two bolt anchor. (5.8+, 100 feet) P2. Take a direct line to a two bolt anchor that is up an right, crossing over Fischesserís Girdle traverse at a bolt. After the bolt, a clever gear nest can be constructed in an eyebrow and an oddly compelling #3 Camalot will stab into a huge pod to help protect the pitch. P3. Cruise up the easier slab towards the Three Way Ledge with two bolts and some marginal TCUs along the way. (5.4, 100 feet) P4. Off the Three Way Ledge, get gear under a huge flake/bulge, find more gear in horizontals, and stage up beneath the obvious bulging section just right of the central water groove (Socket Rocket). Teeter on up through this 5.7 with mixed trad and two bolts to an accommodating ledge with a double bolt anchor. (100í 5.7) P5. Veer off right, place some sneaky tricams before another final bulge, and clip two more bolts as you mosey to the top. (5.6 100 feet)
Descent: Rap the route with a pair of 60m ropes or one 70m.
Scramble down the pine-straw carpeting from Mike Fischesser's Girdle Traverse. Start beneath an obvious bulge that looms above 40 feet of easy slabbing.
Every pitch on Biopsy protects with a traditional North Carolina rack. There are bolts to protect sections which lack adequate gear. Every Pitch has a bolted anchor. The climb can be descended with a pair of 60M ropes or a single 70M.
I've been told this route is a nice, easy intro to Laurel Knob, and I'd have to agree. The pro is better than other routes I've done there, it's shorter than most things at LK, and it would be easy to bail if you had to. I see we're calling it 5.8+ rather than the 5.7 shown on the topo, which is probably right since that move through the bulge on P1 got my attention. On P2, I ended up a little right of that eyebrow where you could build the gear nest and it seemed like more trouble to get over to it than it was worth, so I just kept going up. Made for a long runout, but the climbing was fairly easy. Pulling the bulge on P4 was also interesting, because there's a there's a nice shiny bolt meant to protect that move, but I'm too short to reach it. Most people won't have that problem, but the move isn't really that hard, so just go for it.
I took the easier Laurel's Girdle start, and everything was pretty easy. There seemed to be a lot of bolts up there - more than the routes I knew about, so I wasn't totally sure what I was on. The access trail was pretty seriously overgrown (late July). Continue straight at one of the switchbacks rather than switching back and follow the blue blazes. Also, ONE OF THE ANCHOR BOLTS WAS VERY LOOSE (I could pull it in and out of the hole), so be careful up there.
Mike Fischesser and I replaced that anchor bolt yesterday. Also, there has been a lot of route development in that area in the last few years. Not much has been posted though. Mike and I are currently working on a topo of everything to the right of Manatee. The new trail turned out great too.