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Middle Earth 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 250'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V British: S 4b [details]
FA: Joe Kelsey and Roman Laba, 1967
Page Views: 5,757
Submitted By: Denis O'Connor on Apr 12, 2006
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You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (103)
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Tricia Fusco nearing the top of the first pitch.
Seasonal Falcon Closure MORE INFO >>>


A deservedly popular climb with good first and third pitches.

P1: Climb broken cracks for about 100', aiming for a nice ledge about 15' left of a large pine tree. The route wanders left and right at various places, so keep looking around. 5.6, 100'.

P2: Climb easy ground 60' up and slightly left, to the GT Ledge.

P3: Reposition the belay ~ 20 feet to the right. Climb up and left into a right-facing corner (crux). Clear it, then aim up and left towards a pretty white face and finish up that to the cliff top.

Rappel from rings on trees. At the GT, look for a new station on a pine tree to climber's left, then rap leaning rightwards to top of the first pitch, or go straight to the ground using two ropes. This station has the advantage of staying to the left of the climbing route.

It's also easy to walk just a bit north (right) to the bolted rappel line at Arrow.


From Absurdland, go downhill to the right, and about another 30' right once the trail flattens out.


Standard rack. Rap stations at top of all 3 pitches.

Photos of Middle Earth Slideshow Add Photo
Nearing the top of P1 on a beautiful day in July.
Nearing the top of P1 on a beautiful day in July.
Stepping left.
Stepping left.
Halfway up P1.
Halfway up P1.
About 1/3 of the way up the first pitch, nearing the spot to step back left a few feet.
About 1/3 of the way up the first pitch, nearing t...
Here is a nice little shot from the top of the second pitch.
Here is a nice little shot from the top of the sec...
Climber on Middle Earth from Grand Traverse Ledge of High E.
Climber on Middle Earth from Grand Traverse Ledge ...
Moving up P3 crux on Middle Earth.
BETA PHOTO: Moving up P3 crux on Middle Earth.
Start of P1
BETA PHOTO: Start of P1
Tj getting intense on the first couple moves on Middle Earth.
Tj getting intense on the first couple moves on Mi...
Comments on Middle Earth Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Oct 29, 2013
By Tim Schafstall
From: Newark, DE
Apr 2, 2008

The first pitch of this climb is superb and takes good gear. Good pitch for the new 5.5 leader.

P2 is easy 5th class, but still fun.

P3 is tricky, with a vague book description, potential ledge falls, and a harder than rated crux. I would not put a new 5.5ish leader on the last pitch.

A 60M rope is needed to rap from the large tree atop P1 or to TR this pitch.

By divnamite
From: New York, NY
Sep 24, 2008
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a PG13

Great climb, I linked P1 and P2 together.

Aug 4, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

P3 was rated 5.7 up until the Grey Dick came out; and even at 5.7, it wasn't a gimme. That re-grading is the one I most strongly disagree with.

It's not easy to get *good* pro at the crux, because of the direction of rope pull, and the pumpy stance; and you're looking at hitting the ledge if you fall on bad pro. So I agree with Tim - I would not, not, not put a 5.5 leader on this pitch.

Repositioning the belay at the GT ledge, to just below the pitch, is a good idea.

By doligo
Jun 14, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V S 4b PG13

Finally got to lead the pitch 3. What a great climb! I agree, the roof is a bit stiff for a 5.5, especially for a shortie like me. The roof protects well, you can even stick a purple C4 in the crack just right under the roof. The reason I gave it PG13 is that once you pass the roof, the pro is very sparse, the climbing is pretty easy though.

Jun 14, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b

In May 2010, my partner and I moved the fixed rappel at the GT ledge from the leaning-over, half-eroded tree to the beefy pine 15' left.

By Kevin Heckeler
From: Upstate New York
Nov 27, 2011
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V S 4b

P3's roof is 5.7, I don't care what the current guide says. That said, great route and fun pitch. Well protected IMO.

By kenr
Jun 15, 2012

P1 I found to be well-protected since I had a little Mastercam #0 to stick in a flary vertical crack as my second piece off the ground.
Above that my "normal" rack worked fine, no need for anything larger than a #2 Camalot.

P1 was pretty sustained with thoughtful face/slab moves near the rating grade. Perhaps not a good choice as an early Lead for someone making the transition from indoor climbing, because some of the protection stances required standing on slopy or small footholds - (though could be a good learning pitch for Followers making the transition from indoors).

By Paul Deagle
From: Geneseo, NY
Sep 2, 2012

Hardest "5.5" crux on the third pitch I have ever climbed. 5.8 is a bit more like it.

By Simon Thompson
From: New Paltz, NY
Apr 27, 2013

If you do the crux on p3 the absolute easiest way I'd still say it's hard 5.6. First pitch is phenomenal... probably the best/most sustained pitch of 5.5/5.6 in the Gunks with some great crack climbing to boot!

By Logan Schiff
From: NY, NY
Apr 28, 2013

I approached the P3 overhang from the left side by the Bombs Away P3 start this time. Felt easier, 5.5 or so, and was a bit easier to place pro higher up while holding huge jugs, though still not the most comfortable stance.

By jdrago
From: Rosendale, NY
Oct 29, 2013

Beautiful first pitch. The crux is definitely not much harder than 5.6. Maybe if you go up the roof to the left instead of to the right it's 5.8? A #2 BD cam protects the crux well.