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Dunn Route 
Pale Fire 
Primrose Dihedrals 

Pale Fire 

YDS: 5.12b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ British: E5 6b

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 600', Grade IV
Consensus:  YDS: 5.12b/c French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: IX- British: E6 6b [details]
FA: FFA: Chip Chace and Charlie Fowler
Page Views: 6,069
Submitted By: Max Schon on Jan 1, 2005
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You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (10)
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Stefan Griebel on the first pitch of Pale Fire


Somewhere I read that if you free the first pitch, you've done Pale Fire, and if you don't free it, you've done the North Face. Whatever.

The first pitch is the business. While the technically hardest moves are below the splitter (.12b/c), the splitter rattly fingers crack is stout and sustained. It's .11d, but it ain't no Indian Creek .11d (meaning, if you struggle on .11d at the Creek, then you'll get your ass whooped on this section). Mostly #1 Friends, .5 and .75 camalots. I wouldn't recommend stopping at the hanging belay, but instead go the next anchor about fifty higher. The whole pitch is about 160 feet.

The second pitch is sustained .10d. Mostly hands and cups. #2 and #3 camalots. After the crack ends, there are some balancy face moves getting to some ancient drilled angles. I wouldn't recommend stopping at the end of the crack, cause you'll have an uncomfortable hanging belay. Work past the couple angles and star drives (can't remember what they are exactly) until you get to the slabby face.

The third pitch has a lot of fixed gear (drilled angles, star drives, and other ancient relics) that go up the slabby face. This pitch is mostly 5.10, with an occasional 5.11- move.

One more easy pitch to the top.

Three double rope raps back down the route.


Standard desert rack up to fist size. Maybe one #4 Camalot and some extra rattly fingers for the first pitch.

Photos of Pale Fire Slideshow Add Photo
Scary bolts on Pale Fire
BETA PHOTO: Scary bolts on Pale Fire
Alan Doak comes up P3 of Pale Fire
Alan Doak comes up P3 of Pale Fire
Tim Kudo leading Pale Fire. <br />Nov. 87
Tim Kudo leading Pale Fire.
Nov. 87
Comments on Pale Fire Add Comment
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By Dan Russell
Dec 25, 2003

Can't say I've done this route, but I rapped it after doing Primrose Dihedrals on the other side and was impressed. What a beautiful looking line!

By Joe Forrester
From: Ft. Collins, CO
Jun 2, 2006

This climb also makes a fantastic easy clean aid climb. I was out there a week and a half ago, and took a friend up on his first aid climb ever and he had a great time. The placements are super straight forward, albeit you are swinging cams. Spectacular.

By John J. Glime
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 4, 2007

This would be a great "Introduction to Big Walls" climb for the potential clean aid climber. It is a steep continuous wall with hanging belays. Not too big, not too small. If you don't freak out, you will reach the top in a day. If you can't climb harder than 5.6, it can be aided at 5.6 C2. 90 percent of the placements are super straight forward, the other ten percent are in the C2 range. Okay, maybe 5 percent.

By Zach Allen
Oct 27, 2009

Bailed off of the third (5th guidebook pitch) on an aid ascent due to bad (or missing?) bolts. I was way too scared to free climb above those junk bolts. I was pretty surprised that they held my weight.

If you plan on aiding this route you may want to throw in a stick clip. Other than that the route is spectacular, but would really benefit from a rebolting.

By Sam Feuerborn
From: Durango, CO
Apr 23, 2012

Seemed like the last moves on the 3rd pitch (we ended just before the short 5.8 runout arete/face climbing) were the hardest technical moves at solid .12. Rest of the climb was super bitchin'

By Josh Janes
Oct 4, 2013

I'm interested in conducting a mission to replace old hardware on this route.

Having climbed it recently, I was struck by how beautiful a line (and formation) it is. Currently there are many good bolts and anchors, but also many that are terrible, and others that are just plain unnecessary. I'd like to replace the bad ones, pull the unnecessary ones (and patch their holes), and possibly leave one or two of the most classic "museum" pieces for their historical novelty and as tribute to Beckey. I took some notes on what needs to be done (with two it's probably a one to two day job). I can provide ASCA hardware, as well as a device that makes pulling old bolts relatively easy, but I'd really like to find someone is would be psyched to help - and then to climb the route afterwards. PM me if you're interested.