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This historic route is noted as being the first 5.10 in the Valley, although it was initially rated 5.9 by Robbins when he lie-backed the crux offwidth in 1960!
The route follows the impressive chimney system on the right side of Rixon's Pinnacle. There are 3 starting variations. There is essentially a giant chimney in the corner which is divided in half by a protruding flake. To the right of this flake is the original route, which is a 10a offwidth famous for being wet. Climbing to the left of the flake is the Klemens Variation (5.10c, FA: Mark Klemens, 1970) which is noted as "10c hands" in the Reid guide. This is the variation I took and really it's more of a flared, shallow, overhanging chimney with tight hands in the back and a tricky finish. The third option is the Final Decision (5.11b, FA Anders Lundahl and Eva Selim, 1981) which climbs a flake around the corner to the left. Regardless of which start you choose, the first pitch is the crux of the climb.
The second pitch climbs out an intimidating looking overhang in the chimney and then ascends the slightly flared squeeze for another 70 feet. It's not as hard as it looks (it really is 5.8) and protects in the back with big cams. Above, climb some low angle double cracks to a belay ledge. This pitch is excellent.
The third pitch climbs through a weird bulge which leads to a filthy slot and vertical bushwhacking. Then make a traverse right into a cool tunnel past a giant wedged block. At the top you have to claw your way through more trees. Belaying the second is a pain on this pitch because the rope likes to get pinched in a constriction at the top. I had pull up enough slack to walk over to the other side of the ledge, build an anchor, and then come back and belay near the top of the chimney.
This ledge I think is technically the end of the East Chimney route, but if you want to summit Rixon's Pinnacle you can do one more pitch of 5.7 up the corner past a couple trees.
The descent is kind of interesting. The Reid guide shows a 2 bolt anchor on the ledge at the top of P3. These are ancient 1/4" bolts and one of them has fallen out (the bolt hanger is still dangling from the rap slings). We rapped off a tree that's a bit further up the corner. Two ropes gets you to the huge tree out on the face straight down and left. Another double rope rap from this tree gets you to the ground. Bring extra webbing.
If you go to the summit there is also a rap off the left side of Rixon's, down the West Face. You need two ropes for this as well.
Obviously this has been climbed with a wide variety of different racks over the last 55 years. I would recommend bringing a single set of pro to 6". For the Klemens start I was glad to have doubles from 1-2".
By Bryan G
Dec 18, 2011
As of Dec 18, 2011, there is a fixed line all the way up to the top of pitch 3 of this route. This rope is fucked. Do not attempt to ascend it or rely on it to get down. The sheath is completely severed just below the anchor. You need to bring two ropes to rap.
By Mark P Thomas
Feb 13, 2012
I was wondering about that fixed line today when I wandered by the route. Perhaps if I climb it this year I should chop the line to remove any temptations?