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The freedom tree is a 35 meter journey filled with many unforgettable moves, including knee bars, iron crosses and outrageous stemming. The appeal of this line is that each move is slightly harder than the one preceding it. The angle gets steeper, the holds get smaller, and the voices of self doubt scream louder as you claw your way to your breaking point. The rock starts out a bit flaky but by the time you reach the crux dihedral the quality and features of the rock are more reminiscent of limestone than sandstone.
Begin with six bolts of big moves between slopers and jugs. Bust an iron cross move out left past the sixth bolt, and then another past the seventh bolt. At the eighth bolt indulge in a good undercling rest, as it will be your last decent rest.
Getting to the base of the hanging dihedral is cruxy, but the next 25 feet of consistent 5.13 climbing is the real test. Crimp your way up the dihedral on some tiny sharp edges while pasting your feet on a series of polished smears. Body position is key here and a subtle drop knee or two can be the difference between hanging on or falling off. Who better to describe the emotional and mental challenges of climbing this dihedral than the first ascentionist, Jerry Roberts. Here is what Jerry had to say in an interview with seclimbers www.seclimbers.org/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=113
“For me, instead of enjoying the view and relaxing, I always wanted to get into that slippery dihedral and get it done with.. I was never ready for it due to my quivering mind and legs. Leaving the undercling I would crank out hard steep moves to the right below the extremely glassy dihedral then barely make the clip and proceed to scumtwist my way up into this very nice orange dihedral trying to climb it by shoving my pinky in a knife blade size slot. Brian Mcray and I often spoke of this tiny little sharp slot. Then I’d be reaching and moving off of 3 snot slicked 1/8 inch slopers, all the while, feet straining and thruching to somehow stick in that awful dihedral. It was a mental nightmare. Overhanging, flaring dihedral, opposition difficult. It took all I had to climb it.”
Jerry’s comments are spot on. Success on the route mainly comes down to being able to keep your composure and execute extremely tenuous moves while facing the possibility of some massive whippers.
Be sure to enjoy the victory run out from the final bolt to the chains. The climbing is easy and juggy and it’s a good opportunity to soak up the sights, smells and sounds of the gorge.
Far right end up the Cirque. Look for the blue perma draws.
11 bolts + anchor, perma draws the whole way. 70m rope required