This was originally a practice aid route and was initially freed in 1967 by Lloyd Price et al. There are conflicting accounts, but some claim this was the first 5.11 pitch freed in the Valley. Although current guides give it .11b, it was rated .11a in the 1982 guide, and rated .10d by Bridwell in his seminal article "Brave New World" published in Mountain #31 in 1973. Either way, it was an early example of freeing old aid lines and was at the outer edge of difficulty when it was freed. I've seen this route shut down more than one "5.12" sport climbers.
The business starts right away with a fingery crux on shallow boxy pins scars to a long reach to gain a small flake, then a jug out right. This initial section is bolt protected. Once through the crux, the easy pin-scarred, right trending crack continues to a bolt anchor/rap station at half height. Above this, the second pitch is fingers in pin scars with the occasional hand jam. A short .10a crux reaching between pin scars is encountered near the top. The climb can be done in a single pitch with a 60m (barely).
If you are not up to the boulder problem start, it's worth yarding through on bolts to climb the crack. Otherwise, careful footwork and finger strength will see you through. Having a long reach doesn't hurt either.
Left of Lena's Lieback and right of Oak Tree Flake, starting in front of a tree at obvious shallow pin scars on a slab leading to a long splitter hand and fingers crack about 15' off the deck. The cleanest, best looking crack line on Swan Slab.
Std rack to hands. Three bolts to start the first pitch
The obvious line.
Aiding through the opening crux. It's still reachy...
Josh at the crux, that is, if you aided the start ...
From: Oakland, CA
Mar 6, 2008
Bring thin gear for the second pitch - I was glad to have micro nuts.
|By Christian "crisco" Burrell|
From: PG, Utah
Oct 19, 2008
The opening crux is SLIPPERY! The pockets are mostly good and the jug after the second bolt is just fine. The crack was really fun! Most of the gear was plugged into large pin scars. The topo says the 1st anchor is easy to miss. I scoffed at this but then found myself enjoying the crack so much that I suddenly looked to my left and noticed that I had almost climbed past it!
|By Kyle Joe Turner|
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Dec 15, 2008
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ E3 5b
Great climb to do at the end of the day. The start is crux, but if aided its not too bad. As criscokid said, it really easy to get into the crack and miss the first belay. The climbing goes pretty fast and its a great spot to practice some technique. Watch out for the tourists. Small pro works well.
|By Will S|
From: Joshua Tree
Sep 7, 2010
So you aided the crux, but you downrate it? How does that work exactly?
I've done this route, free, 3 or 4 times. And unless you're maybe 6' or taller, this would be a ridiculous sandbag at 10d.
|By Josh Cameron|
Jul 19, 2011
Super fun climb. I aided through the crux, which helps if you're taller. The crack up to the anchors was good, but the section past the anchors is classic!
|By Patrick Mulligan|
Dec 8, 2011
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- E4 6a
The start of this climb is redonculously slippery. When its hot and in the sun, forget it. The upper crack is interesting fingery climbing on pin scars. There often seems to be a line, but the route is really just OK.
From: Sacramento, CA
Feb 6, 2012
Both pitches can be combined into a single ~190' pitch.
|By Mark P Thomas|
Mar 5, 2012
A narrow single & double length sling (e.g. dyneema) is helpful for aiding the knob on the lower section. The second pitch didn't have pro I felt good about falling on! I think if I had brought offset cams or especially offset nuts it would have been solid, though. I never really noticed much of a crux in the second pitch, as it was so sustained throughout.
|By Darice Lee|
Jul 22, 2012
When I climbed this route two days ago, at the second pitch shortly after the anchors, I encountered a nest of hornets in the right side crack. They caught me by surprise and we had to bail since they were buzzing angrily around their nest. Be sure to check for the nest! You can see it before getting into range.
|By Ryan Kirtland|
Apr 10, 2014
I agree with Mark on bringing offset cams/nuts for the second pitch. I didn't see a need for micro nuts.