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West Face/ Southwest Arete
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Born of Water T,S 
Cloud Man Got Angry T,S 
Crystal Line T 
Forbes Route (East Approach) T 
Forbes Route (West Approach) T 
I'itoi Dance T 
Watcher of the Skies S 

I'itoi Dance 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, 9 pitches, 1000', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Mike Strassman, Jackie Carroll
Season: spring & fall are best
Page Views: 2,791
Submitted By: Charles Vernon on Mar 28, 2010

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BETA PHOTO: This is the SW face from the approach trail. I ha...

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This is a great way to climb Babo's SW face. The route uses occasional bolt-protected face climbing to connect a series of corners and bulges. It's fun and well-protected at the cruxes, with some runouts and loose rock on easier ground. While trolling for info about Baboquivari, I found this comment by Mike Strassman, who did the FA of both routes: I'itoi Dance is "far better than Born of Water and burlier too." That piqued our interest, and the route was worthwhile, although I wouldn't really call it "burly." [edit: having recently climbed Born of Water, I would say that I'itoi Dance is actually easier; however, it's more serious as it's more of trad route. It's also more sustained, and overall it's a better route.]

This route is not in Kerry's guide, but Strassman's topo and description are here and here.

Together they are enough to get you up the route. Because of the indistinct nature of the features, and the large trees at the base, it is very difficult to get an overview of the route before starting up, but all the features become apparent as you climb. The last 5.10 pitch is fairly contrived (and not as good as the lower pitches), as joining Born of Water is the obvious way to go.

By stretching pitches 2 & 5, and combining pitches 3 & 4 and 8 & 9, we did the route in 6 pitches with a 60 meter rope. All belays were on comfortable ledges with incredible views. We felt the route was more like III 5.10- than the topo's IV 5.10, although the first "5.6" pitch felt more like 5.8 or 5.9 at the bolt--something may have broken off there.

Also, note that the topo says "Off?" with an arrow at about 3/4 height. If you're running low on time and daylight, this option does indeed lead up and left to easy 3rd class scrambling to the summit. Having done both the full route and this escape route, I would say that the best climbing is all before the escape anyway.


Hike the west side trail up to the great ramp as for the Standard/Forbes Route. From here, bushwhack along the base of the wall (you are on Lion's Ledge at this point). The beginning of the route is difficult to find, and the route does not start "at the lowest point of the wall" as the description says. Look for the bolt 10 feet off the ground on a small buttress, and for the square flat coffee-table sized rock at the base. If you get to the "South Side of the Sky" (an obvious overhanging area with a bolted line to the left), you've gone too far and need to backtrack a ways.


A fairly light rack works. A single set of cams from blue tcu/green alien to #3 friend/#2 camalot, a set of nuts, loads of long runners, and 3-4 quickdraws for the occasional bolts was enough. Extra smaller cams (up to a .75 camalot) would probably get used if you're inclined to take them. We made every belay off of trees.

Photos of I'itoi Dance Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Taken by David Tilley from the SE Arete.  I am vis...
Taken by David Tilley from the SE Arete. I am vis...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dan Millis leading the topo's 7th pitch (our 5th)....
Dan Millis leading the topo's 7th pitch (our 5th)....
Rock Climbing Photo: View of a climber on the Southeast Arete.
View of a climber on the Southeast Arete.
Rock Climbing Photo: Dan topping out on the last pitch.
Dan topping out on the last pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Awesome view from the first belay.
Awesome view from the first belay.

Comments on I'itoi Dance Add Comment
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By Fred Nakovic
From: Tucson, AZ
Apr 5, 2010
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13

Meghan and me did it this weekend. Dito on the route description. Still some loose rock up there - watch out below!. Got off route a couple of places (if there is much lichen on the rock you are off route...)

It would be nice if there were rap anchors at the belays ;)

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