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Chapel Pond Slab
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Bob's Knob Standard T 
Empress T 
Greensleeves T 
Regular Route T 
Thanksgiving  T 


YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a X

Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, 865'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ ZA: 11 British: MS 4a [details]
FA: 1933, Fritz Wiessner, George Austin
Page Views: 5,468
Submitted By: Eli Kramer on Aug 25, 2009

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (43)
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Taking Mom up the last pitch of Empress


Climbs the slab with fantastic friction to a birch terrace on the left side. The route starts on the left facing corner to some belay cracks up above it. You can skip pitches 2 and 3 by taking a run-out direct line to the third belay. The last pitch before that ledge, the 3rd or 4th depending, is the crux pitch. The steepest slab on the route with no protection. Make sure not to be lulled to the protection right where the grade is suddenly steeper and slicker (Victoria 5.6+ R).From here, climb the off-width crack past a good ledge and out on to the slab on the right for 40 Ft to a belay at an overlap. Climb up the slab as it gets easier to the small clump of trees. Belay from here, or traverse right along a ledge to the trees right towards the north descent.


The left side of the slab. Best descent is to traverse right to the north gully and follow a path with some fixed hand lines back to the start.


A small rack, a few medium and small cams and a few small nuts. Not much gear to place.

Photos of Empress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Offwidth pitch
Offwidth pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: fun slab climb
fun slab climb
Rock Climbing Photo: Our second section of simul-climbing on Empress
Our second section of simul-climbing on Empress
Rock Climbing Photo: Right before second simul-solo
Right before second simul-solo
Rock Climbing Photo: Crossing one of the hummocks on P3.
Crossing one of the hummocks on P3.

Comments on Empress Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 12, 2015
By doligo
Jun 1, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a X

This climb is not as popular as Regular route for its X rating, so you don't have to wait much in line if the first pitch is dry and you can run it out pass the point where Regular branches out. Small gear, but you may want to bring gold and blue camalots for anchors. Off-width protects nicely with small gear, but if you're not sure, you can bring a #4 camalot - it gets pretty windy on that arete. Watch out for those crumbly flakes - my partner broke off a huge piece while holding onto one.
By Jaysen Henderson
From: Bronx NY
Aug 2, 2011

A fantastic climb, but as the description says be sure that at the base of the X pitch begin straight up from the perch, do not traverse right to the fixed gear, if you do there are no feet and traversing into the main line is a little dicey. A great climb for someone solid on slab and solid in the mental aspect of climbing haha.
By Mike McLean
Aug 11, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a X

As Adirondack Rock mentions, I'd avoid belaying at the top of the OW. A fall on the runout and unprotected slab directly above would be directly on the anchors. Keep going up another 40 feet and belay at the obvious vertical crack at the overlap.
By Justin Fletcher
From: Lake Placid, NY
Jul 17, 2012
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a X

Once you are past the OW it gets really run out. We were not expecting there to be almost zero protection but that is most certainly the case.
By Benjaminadk
From: San Pedro, California
Jul 25, 2012
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a X

Awesome varied route. I think it gets my nod over the regular route in everyway, except the gear rating i guess :)
By kenr
Jul 27, 2012

About as varied climbing and terrain you could have given that it's all still a friction slab.

P1 - nice warmup of friction -- check if your head is ready today for what lies above. Careful not to make the anchor too high, or you'll have to down-climb to the "steppy" rock that starts the next pitch.
P2 - different rock textures ... right across the "steppy" rock, then up white-ish rock to make an anchor near base of giant L-facing corner.
(? alt P2 ? The reason not to go directly to the bottom of the crux pitch P4 is then you miss out on the interesting rock types and features that make this route different from most slab routes).
P3 - up a little along the giant L-facing corner, then out left before it overhangs, and keep traversing ... first across the low part of a thin flake, then up onto th first hump, below a second (less distinct) hump, and finish on top of third hump.
P4 - pretty much straight up, perhaps trending a little left toward the off-width. The reason it's rated X instead of the usual friction slab R is because if the leader falls, it's not just a long slide to the end of the rope -- rather the fall comes done hard onto a substantial rock ledge with a big elevated lip - (or smashes onto the unfortunate belayer).
P5 - I thought the off-width was pretty fun with my feet outside it on its left side the whole way up -- nice way to retain the character of the route as a friction climb. Anyway followed by another runout friction section up to a obvious (but narrow) overlap.
P6 - less steep friction up to a big stone lying on the surface, with trees nearby to right.
P7 - we were taking the north descent, so we traversed right (actually the easiest line seemed a little downhill at first) to the right side of the slab to the trees, found an informal trail up thru trees and across exposed rock sections obvious to the (non-trivial) north descent.
By Jay Harrison
Dec 7, 2012
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a X

Super classic friction route; definitely NOT for beginning or shaky leaders. Two spots, as mentioned, would be terrible fall zones: the third pitch's 90' runout, and after stepping off the block above the big crack.
By adkeditor
Nov 11, 2014

Has anyone done the 5.8 variation to the right of the off-width? I did it, or something like it, on solo top rope once. I went quite far right of the crack, and I am wondering if I was off route. I doubt the variation gets climbed much, so perhaps there is no by-the-book way of doing it.
By Robert Hall
May 12, 2015
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a R

On the pitch above the belay on the "3rd hummock", if you moves a bit left and then up, you reach a fine left-facing corner that can be (climbed with protection) to finish on friction and then to the belay below the "Empress Crack"; then this pitch is only about "PG-13 / R" and not "X".

Also, with a 70m, or a "long 60m" it is possible to climb directly (in one pitch) from the top of P1 to the 3rd hummock by climbing up and left. In spring, or after a rain, there a bit of water to cross (rope might get wet) and a few bushes, but this "saves" a pitch.
By Sam Fox
From: Burlington, VT
Jun 26, 2015
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a X

So today I was playing guide for my girlfriends mother on her first ever multi-pitch. I have never climbed rock in the dacks before today, so I figured a 5.5 would be a fun onsight, into to the rock, and ideal first multi. Anyway, no big surprise I roll in at 9:30 and there's a bunch of slow parties in line at the bottom. I read over the empress topo and decided to give it a go, full well knowing that it had rained hard the night before. The first 10' were damp and slick but I decided to keep going and was rewarded with splendid dry rock with tons of friction. The rain had left some serious wet streaks which I worked between. The first pitch was ~100' took decent gear (.75, .5, large stopper & two pins) and I belated at vertical crack/flake which took small and fairly shallow gear, but good gear. From this belay I went up and left crossing a crack with water raging through it and climbing the entire pitch with no placements to a good ledge with again a thin crack that took bomber stoppers. from this good ledge I headed up and slightly left, placing a bomber #1 and mid sized stopper before running it out ~70' on friction. There is a crumbly left facing corner which I initially tried to climb up and move out right but I was taken aback by how shitty the rock was (foot jabs are crushed by your feet), and ended up down climbing. I climbed straight up off of this right facing corner stepping over a 3' wet streak and climbing over and overlap before I realized that the topout moves were going to be wet. With an extremely high pucker factor I smeared up the last few wet moves and grabbed a sweet bush of life. Definitely earned an x rating. I almost laughed out loud when I switched over to belay and watched my girlfriends mother sprint up the pitch like it was nothing. We were now directly beneath the off width and I was glad to have something to grab and jam even if it was offwith. I appreciated the prudent suggestion to run the 40' of 5.3 friction above the offwidth and belay at the overlap as this is a more protected anchor with gear immediately above it to prevent potentially factoring the anchor. From the overlap I continued straight up the tree line stretching the 70m to its limit. Great climb. Don't worry about the runouts, Jesus has you on top rope.
By Kevin Heckeler
From: Upstate New York
Jul 12, 2015

If you want to take the north descent, climb ALL THE WAY to the top, PAST the small island of trees as Kenr describes as P6, to a very large boulder perched at the top [and rap station at a tree to its right]. You can barely see the top of the boulder from the tree island. You can traverse across the ledges from the tree island at P6, but at the end of the ledge was 20 feet of exposed, wet, and dirty slab. Wouldn't want to slip there.

P7 is easy 5.0 friction. At the top put the rope and gear away, then head directly into the woods 20 feet, then right following a faint then more obvious series of paths up and right. You'll eventually cross one section of wet slab but there's trees to keep things safe. Around and down a couple trees, then up and right 40 feet on dry, easy slab. You're now across the main slabs.

Once you're in the woods for good, after ~75 feet there's a path DOWN (quasi drainage) to the main Regular Route walkoff.

As has been explained regarding the regular route walkoff, we prefer taking the second rap line ((2) 60m raps) starting at a tree above a ledge [NOT the first rap down a steep wet chossy gully]. At the bottom [you end up next to the small waterfall] heading across the creek below some large boulders and down the Chapel Pond Gully trail. Although this is not a direct line back to the base of the slabs, we find it as quick because of the established trails. If you don't have any reason to go back to the base this spits you out near the parking areas for Giant Mt.

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