|Chiefshead Northwest Face
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This was climbed by 3 folks who had all climbed or met in New Zealand, and wanting to keep with the avian theme of the wall, we chose a tongue-in-cheek name to represent the route. It's probably Grade III to the top of the wall and Grade IV to the top of the mountain. - Graham Zimmerman made a neat movie- The movie and more photos here.
Follow the major, right-facing corner system, which is roughly 500' left of Birds of Fire. After 6 pitches, this route reaches the major, arching ledge that cuts above the face. From here, it is possible to walk right to the rappels of Birds of Fire, or the walkoff, farther climber's right. However, the route continues with 5 more pitches to the summit. These 5 pitches could be reached from any route on the wall. Rock in the vicinity of the final 2 pitches had been climbed prior to our ascent.
Both of the first two pitches are probably frequently wet. Luckily it's possible to protect the crack and climb the dry face.
P1 - Begin in the moat, immediately right of two very small, left-facing corners. Face climb up the arete to the right of the rightmost of these small corners. After 20', move well left passing all crack systems, and face climb up and back right into the 4" crack. Finish in an alcove with a RFC and roof. 5.8, 70'.
P2 - The crux is somewhat tricky to protect - the best beta seems to be climb 15' up the from the belay to gear under the roof, then downclimb back and face climb straight right to a positive flake. With cam in place, this face climb is well-protected for the leader and is around 5.10d. Climb straight up from the flake and crack, laybacking on a right-facing flake, and using face holds on the left. ~25 feet above the height of the roof, step left and enjoy rad face climbing just left of the major crack (which is probably wet). 5.10d.
P3 - Climb the right edge of the flake system with a little delicate undercling rightward to a belay at the end. 5.9, 100'.
P4 - Go up the corner which, in our dreams, would go on for a few hundred meters. Step left up blocky ground at the top. 5.8, 100'.
(P3/P4 Variation - climb the flake and crack above the belay atop P2, through a chimney. Face climbing, and a larger, more prominent chimney, brings one to the same ledge atop p4. 5.10a)
P5 - Move left on the ledge system for ~20. A clean, 0.75", left-facing crack/corner is above and right. Climb this for 25' to its top and place gear. Traverse straight left (5.8 runout) on beautiful nubbins and into the right edge of a flake system. Climb this flake system to its apex, left of a small white roof/overlap visible from the belay. Face climb upward left-to-right above this small overlap, and follow the right edge of a second flake system. From atop this 2nd flake system, climb more golden nubbins (5.8 runout) to a horizontal break. Hanging belay here.
P6 - A faint flake/feature curves up and left from the belay. Find the surprise #4 Camalot pod out right shortly after embarking, and then continue left up the slab to a left-trending flake and ramp system, which gets easier as you go. This flake and ramp finishes with a short 5.8 bulge and brings one to the big ledge that curves across the wall.
P7 - Walk left to the end of the ledge/terrace. Climb up and left into a finger, hand, and twin hand crack on a blunt arete/prow, shortly left of a OBVIOUS corner. At the big ledge, move right to the base of the CLEAN, upper dihedral 5.10a, 55 meters.
P8 - Go up the thin-hands corner, 5.8.
From here, you are on the North Ridge of Chiefshead, which connects to Spearhead. This has been climbed by Bill Wright and Buzz Burrell in 2009, likely others well before. Unrope and walk up the talus for a couple hundred feet until the ridge steepens. Multiple options are presented. Our route:
P9 Somewhat on the right side of the buttress and just left of a very thin and vegetated corner, find a hand crack on a steep face, diagonaling up from right to left. Keep climbing up a little more and belay at the base of a long, low-angle hand crack and left-facing corner. 5.10b
P10 and P11 - Two more nearly 200' pitches of quite nice crack climbing lead to the summit. Just aiming for the steepest and cleanest line in this section is probably the best option.
From Birds of Fire, or anywhere in the center of the NW, look for the major, right-facing corner and crack system on the left half of the wall. The flakes and chimneys are obvious. Start below these. From the summit, walk off down the West ridge, and descend mellow class 2/3 to the west of the wall, or rappel Birds of Fire.
A single rack to a #4 camalot, with perhaps double cams in the fingers-to-thin-hands sizes. One 60m rope if you don't mind the mellow walkoff, or 60m doubles if you are going to rappel Birds of Fire.
BETA PHOTO: Pitches 7 and 8.
BETA PHOTO: Topo for Flight of the Kiwi.
Slabs of P5.
Graham in the fog on the first ascent.
BETA PHOTO: Photo topo of the route.
Sep 25, 2013
Two pretty good pitches if you go all the way to the top. This climb was probably not done for quite a while due to the normally wet conditions that seep from the first couple of pitches. I would say that this is a good way to get to the top of the peak but not a classic rock climb. The 5.8R pitch can easily be avoided by traversing a large ledge to the left. This avoids having to downclimb to get to the upper wall.