Howl's Moving Castle
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Howl’s Moving Castle tackles the obvious weakness in the massive roof on the right side of the main Black Arch Wall in four short, interesting pitches. This is a good route that borders on being great except for a little loose rock here and there and a brief dirty section. All of this might clean up with traffic, but even in its current state the route offers diverse climbing and fantastic exposure on the last two pitches in particular.
Having spent way too much time up there this season, my eye was inevitably drawn towards this line, but when we finally made time to check it out, we were dismayed to discover a bolted anchor halfway up the lower corner. However, our curiosity had us racking up anyway, and there was no evidence of progress beyond the first two pitches – it appeared that whoever had been up there previously stopped beneath the crux roof pitch (I’d love more information if anyone out there knows anything) - so we kept going! What resulted was essentially a ground-up FA of a sweet new line. I led pitches one, two, and four onsight and followed Josh Thompson cleanly on the crux third pitch, returning a few days later to lead every pitch.
Begin directly below the left-arching, left-facing corners that form the right side of the main Black Arch Wall. Scrambling up some 4th class to a bushy ledge to begin the first pitch is recommended, but it is possible to begin below this on the more spacious slabs.
P1: Climb straight up from the bushy ledge towards the left end of another bushy ledge that is directly below an obvious chimney at the base of the corner. Chimney up this (unprotected) and then work out left from the top of the chimney (good gear) to a roof at the base of the corner. Arrange gear here and pull awkwardly up over the roof, stepping easily left to a bolted belay atop a large flake. It is possible for the second to avoid the chimney by climbing up a large slabby flake, but this is not recommended for the leader as the flake is crumbling and there is no worthwhile gear until the top of the chimney. 5.10b, 75-150’ depending on where you start.
P2: Step right and up off the belay, and then continue up the slick, leaning corner. Liebacks and ultimately fist jams lead up this to a good stem rest. Here the corner pinches down to tips: Continue up with liebacks (crux) until the corner thankfully, and abruptly, widens. Here, gain a large flake and clip a bolt before performing a thin mantle followed by easier climbing up and left to a bolted anchor at a comfortable stance. It is also possible to traverse left at the stem rest and climb the unprotected face before stepping back right after the thin liebacks, thus changing the grade of this pitch to 5.10b (with 5.9 R). Otherwise, the pitch is 5.11a, 80’.
P3: From the ground this roof appears to be a 30’ monster, but you’ll see it isn’t so bad. Climb up via steep, positive, but very powerful liebacks to a few handjams and a final burly move turning the lip. Stopping to place gear on this bit is difficult, but overall the holds are really good. Once around the corner, there’s about 10’ of dirty rock that can mostly be avoided, but the exposure is spectacular as the climbing eases to a vertical, 5.9 romp up the crack system to a good belay ledge out right. 5.11c, 90’.
P4: Continue up the crack system through soft white rock. This bit of climbing is way steeper than it looks, but is well-protected and actually quite good. Belay just above the top of the wall at a comfortable stance. 5.10d, 75’.
Walk off via the Painted Bowl descent or rap Plate of Fate with a single 70m rope.
4-5x Blue Aliens/00 TCU's
2x 0.3 - 0.5 Camalots
1x 0.75 - #4 Camalots
A few draws/slings
No wires necessary
BETA PHOTO: Howl's Moving Castle
This photo puts the crux roof into perspective.
The start of the climb...
Josh J. Leading pitch #4.
The crux corner...note the rope in the upper right...
|Comments on Howl's Moving Castle
|By anonny moose|
Apr 17, 2012
this was probably done by tom cecil yaers ago. a few months back hiked up to check out the fixed lines that were hanging on black widow+returned to put up this line. 2 pitches went down before found evidence of earlier ascents ,the top pitches didn't need any so they weren't bolted-they weren't unclimbed.
we kept the route quiet because of legal issues. left black sling at second station so people could bail after the best pitch.
|By J. Thompson|
From: denver, co
Apr 17, 2012
So you did climb the pitchs above the black slings...or you think someone else did?
|By Josh Janes|
Apr 24, 2012
After exchanging a few emails with "anonny moose" about this route, I should say Howl's may have been climbed, either aid or free, beyond the first two pitches prior to Josh and my ascent. We'll call ours the first recorded ascent (it may or may not be the first free ascent). I'd like to give credit where it's due, but regardless, it's a fun line that deserves to be put out in the public domain for others to climb and enjoy.
|By the banjo|
Jun 17, 2013
FYI... Just to keep history straight, I know put did the FA of this route and they called it : Banana Hammock.