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Coal Pit Buttress
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Angering The Angered 
Coalpit Connection 
Direct North Face 
House of Cards 
King Cobra Corner 
One Time at Band Camp 
Organization for the Organized 
Precious Lost 
Refugees From Reality 
Stick Man 
Stiffler's Mom 
Stifflers Stiffy 
Stuck a Flute in My 
Tony's Route 
Unsorted Routes:

House of Cards 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- British: E4 5c

Type:  Trad, 7 pitches, 650', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- British: E4 5c [details]
FA: Clay Watson & Brian Smoot, July 2008
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 3,181
Submitted By: bsmoot on Aug 10, 2008
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BETA PHOTO: Red line...Tree Route
Yellow line...House of Cards...
Do not cross the pipe by the pumphouse. MORE INFO >>>


House of Cards climbs the clean, airy slabs above the big overhangs on the North Face of the Coalpit Buttress. The line stays left of the crack system that possibly was followed by the DNF route. We originally climbed 7 pitches, but decided to add 2 more approach pitches of lesser quality to avoid the hike around by the Triangle wall gully. All of the pitches were done in traditional ground up style.

Sadly, recent rockfall has changed the Tree Route, which we followed for 35'. Most of the tree was knocked off when a 15' x 35' section of rock slid off. Since the tree is only 10' tall now, the additional climbing to pass this section is now 5.11. Higher above the tree, the climbing is now easier and safer.

P1 - (begins at traverse ledge above direct start) Climb a clean arete to where you can traverse left and up to a belay.
P2 - Climb a short roof to a finger hidden crack. Follow this up to a great ledge with a broken pine tree.
P3 - Climb tree and either free or aid past fixed gear (5.10 A0 or 5.11) to some stacked blocks. Above here is a section of new rock that is protected by some bolts. Originally, this pitch made an improbable, heads-up traverse right along a prominent spike of rock. Belay beneath the Guillotine, a precarious looking flake.
P4 - Climb over the roofs above, passing the Guillotine (it's pretty solid...we bounced on it as hard as we could)
P5-7 - Obvious face climbing.

UPDATE: The Guillotine is now gone!

Descent You can now rap the route with just one 70m rope. The 2nd rap from the top goes to a small pine tree on the west.

Gregg Kirchhoff, Jonathan Smoot & Dallen Ward also helped out.


See photo


See Topo

Photos of House of Cards Slideshow Add Photo
Excellent slab climbing on pitch 5, House of Cards.
Excellent slab climbing on pitch 5, House of Cards...
Maura happy to be above the "House of Cards" on pitch 3 of that route.
Maura happy to be above the "House of Cards" on pi...
Maura climbing classic LCC cracks on pitch 2 of House of Cards.
Maura climbing classic LCC cracks on pitch 2 of Ho...
House of Cards
House of Cards
House of Cards
House of Cards
what? you didn't like my topo?  couldn't get it do draw a thin, red line for the life of me.
what? you didn't like my topo? couldn't get it do...
LCC looks big from up here
LCC looks big from up here
Right Photo...before June 2008 rockfall <br />Left Photo...After rockfall
Right Photo...before June 2008 rockfall
Left Photo...
Maura on the final pitch of House of Cards, way above the LCC road.
Maura on the final pitch of House of Cards, way ab...
House of Cards
House of Cards
House of Cards
House of Cards
Brian up near the top of the big cool slab pitch.
Brian up near the top of the big cool slab pitch.
(9/19/10) The mangled chains atop P3 after major rockfall below the Guillotine roof on P4.  The damage to the quick-link is obvious, but the shearing of the chains is hard to see.
BETA PHOTO: (9/19/10) The mangled chains atop P3 after major r...
Comments on House of Cards Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 24, 2011
By zoso
Aug 10, 2008

Thanks for all the work on this one. I saw you way up on the slabs one saturday after the rockfall by your little own self. Clay raves of this one. Looks very nice.

By Luke Douglas
Aug 11, 2008

Thanks for the post.

By tenesmus
Aug 11, 2008

This was really fun - too bad about the rockfall because the traverse along the spike was really cool and wild. A few feet got chopped off the end, but you can still see the spike on the tree pitch off to the right as you begin moving left on bolts. I originally had thoughts about making a gear belay in the crack that made the delineation between what stayed and what fell off. But even on the first time through I never really wanted to hang out in that area... Its all clean now though!

As with any route this new, you should tread very carefully on anything that even looks like it could come off. Wear a helmet and your belayer should watch carefully. One more thing - the guillotine was bounced on by several of us each time we passed by. Have fun on the upper slab because its as clean as it gets on that headwall. Kind of like a 5.9 version of the 5th pitch of Stifflers.

By James Garrett
Aug 16, 2008

Hopefully, you route developers got the proper permission from the area developers?

By James Garrett
Aug 16, 2008

I better take up river rafting in the Grand Canyon...better chance of a permit! I might have to address my fear of drowning, though!

By Ben Folsom
Aug 25, 2008
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c

Maura and I climbed House of Cards yesterday. Great, exciting route! Thanks for all the work to equip the route and clean it up. Quality climbing.
We could not find the direct start even though we searched for about an hour. So I ended up leading a completely direct start further left, and probably left of "Nanook of the North". I did the lower, broken wall in one 70 meter pitch, probably about 5.9 R. I'll post a photo with our variation. Did not encounter or leave any fixed gear on the variation we climbed. This pitch climbed directly below the 5.6 bolted arete of pitch #1. According to Brian Smoot's topo, on the route proper we combined pitches 1 and 2 (using long slings on everything). The crux third pitch was hard, and climbing through the "House of Cards" was thrilling. We also combined the long 6th and short 7th pitches which was exactly 70 meters (there was barely enough rope left to tie into the anchor). Also, with two 70 meter ropes we rapped from pitch 7 to 5, 5 to 4 (short rap), 4 to 2, then 2 to the approach ramp from Triangle Gully.
Anyway, awesome route in an amazing position with fantastic views of the canyon. Thanks again for all the work that went into the establishment of this route.

By Ben Folsom
Aug 25, 2008
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c

After looking at the photos with the route lines, we climbed basically the pink dotted line to reach the ledge below pitch 1. (the 1970's direct start). We did it in one 70 meter pitch. Lots of long slings and few gear placements kept rope drag to a barely tolerable amount.
I also want to say that "House of Cards" is a fantastic and fitting name for this route.

By James Garrett
Jul 9, 2009

We climbed a TC route for 3 long pitches for the "approach pitches". They were very good and recommended. We neither found the Smoot/Watson start nor the piton from the topo. An appropriate name for the climb, House Of Cards is a scary place and the 3 of us were quite intimidated at the "Guillotine" belay. None of us thought it long for this world nor the next. The 4 star Pitch #6 is classic Smoot and spectacular. Feeling more like a survivor, a fine Wasatch adventure nevertheless.

By Pete Spri
Sep 20, 2010

Beta Update 9/20/10:

The chains at the top of the tree pitch were nailed when the guillotine fell. One of the hangers is nearly flattened and the chain was sheared off see beta photo), and barely hanging by the ripped open quick-link. The other Fixe bolt with a rap ring in it appears to be ok.

Obviously the next pitch that HAD the guillotine on it has changed... as in, it's just a clean roof at this point. There is a great pod for a red metolius, and a somewhat tricky 5.9 or maybe 10a move gets you over the roof.

By Ben Folsom
Feb 24, 2011
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 5c

Just as James predicted... the guillotine fell.
I'm just glad it didn't fall on us when we were up there.