Description: Classic! Steep, splitter crack systems linked by airy, committing sequences on pitch after pitch of perfect, white granite. Originally put up by Brooke Sandahl over a three year period back in the '90s, (?) this gem was unearthed when Leavenworth local Sol Wertkin saw a picture of the route on a Metolius catalog and mined Brooke for beta. Der Sportsman is now included in the Leavenworth Rock guidebook with an adventure-oriented description that maximizes pitch to pitch uncertainty. My thoughts on such things are as follows:
Pitch 1: Crux-5.11+. Follow easy, less-appealing climbing up a left-slanting crack system that eventually leaves you standing at a stance contemplating a tipsy crux guarding the stem box above. Pull through this and work up the beautiful twin cracks, eventually committing to liebacking and stemming up the right crack to a two-bolt anchor. (2 bolts and thin to medium gear. Heavy on the thin cams and stoppers)
Pitch 2: Mental crux-5.11-. (but not that bad) Work briefly up the corner above and eventually cut right through a knobby crux protected by a fixed pin. Pull around the arete to the right and onto the slab. This is where the guidebook leaves you S.O.L. Above and left is a seam with a bolt about 20' up. This is off route. Stem further right on knobs to the base of an offset tips crack with a pin at the top. Belay on a ledge with a bolt anchor.
Pitch 3: The money pitch-5.10+. (but they're all money pitches, really) Walk left on the ledge to access the undercling flake/crack system above. Killer hands and fingers will take you to a broad ledge and a gear anchor.
Pitch 4: The wild one-5.10+. Continue up the obvious corner crack above, eventually making a dicey crack-switch to the right after about 20'. Follow this corner until dirt and vegetation force a traverse rightwards to a pillar with a short, left-facing corner. There's a pin on this traverse, but I missed it at slung a solid horn instead. Either way, climb up the wild pillar and over the other side (at which point the exposure becomes quite noticeable) and belay on the ledge above. There's a fixed pin right where you meet the ledge, but it's
an awkward stance. We opted to belay further up the ledge at the base of the corner.
Pitch 5: 5.10. Climb the short corner above to a brief crux moving up and right to a slab. There are two belay bolts and a decent stance here. (we used it, but I don't think I would again) A better option might be to continue up, trending generally left, and build a gear anchor at a higher stance. If you do this, stop before you encounter a bolt protecting the traversing moves left to access the final headwall. This makes the final, harder pitch shorter and makes for easier rope-management. It's worth noting that following the crux of this pitch and the finishes to P4 and P2 can be exciting for the second.
Pitch 6: The Icing on the Cake-5.11. Climb up to the bolt, step left, and commit to the awesome splitter above. Steep, thuggish, and flaring thin hands take you to an awkward chockstone mantel and an easy chimney above. There's a bolted belay (and a random/pointless protection bolt) at the top of the chimney. (we belayed here) If you went with the higher P5 belay option, you could carry on to the top via 5.easy terrain. Careful in the chimney as one of the blocks in the back of it is frighteningly loose.
Descent: Rap the back side with one rope.
Location: 50' left of the standard south face route. Look for the
stembox-you can't miss it
Protection: RPs, Draws, Doubles from small through #2. 1-2 #3s depending on comfort/preference. You could us a #4, but you'd probably be okay without..
Jul 3, 2013
above description and commentary is accurate - thanks!
A few of our own:
The route can/could be made easier yet maintain quality by doing the following:
pitch 1 is a toughie to start the day on and is by far the hardest climbing on route. One could lower the grade by stepping right to obvious face crack from stem box. It looks naturally clean and is probably about 5.10. This leads to a gear stance below roof to rejoin route at 2nd pitch. Double ropes would be mandatory. We didn't do this but I would next time, especially if the crux corner is wet again.
The above or the following would eliminate the horrible hanging first belay at bolts..... continue past bolt station to awkward but better stance at fixed pin a few meters higher on 2nd pitch. Gear belay with pin and 2-3 inch cams.
We skipped the last wild looking pitch in favor of escaping some serious lightning hazard as quickly as possible. We took the last pitch of the Stanley Burgner which is still top quality but quicker and easier at 5.9.
Also, again in consideration of lightning threat and the fact that the north face rappel route, traverse and down climb could be substantially improved upon, I suggest rappelling the route straight back to your pack. Bring some leaver slings and rings for horns and 2 existing bolt stations.
Other than that, 4.5 star route to rival the best of sierra granite! Go do it!
Jul 11, 2013
If you have two ropes and wanted to rappel the South Side as suggested above, there are in-situ anchors to the left of 'Der', in or just right-of the big corner. We made it in three double-rope raps (the second one being about 65m). Gear and slings left on 'Der' will probably just get bootied by future parties.