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High on Black Arch Wall, Plate of Fate is a short route just to the left of There and Back Again. For us it was the perfect choice on a frigid December day when the somewhat lengthy approach kept us warm. The route is south facing, so perfect for cooler days.
Granted there are a few brief sections of loose rock, but the harder moves are solid and well protected with either bolts or gear.
Pitch 1 (120', 5.8)
Clip the first bolt then move right into a narrow crack system. Take care as some of the rock is fractured. Continue up past a second bolt to a bolted anchor.
Pitch 2 (90', 5.8+)
From the belay go left and up. From the belay you see mostly loose plates but there is solid rock to be found once you commit. Traverse left on the varnish past one bolt then head up to a ledge with bushes. As of Dec 2009 the bush was slung with cords and a rap ring.
Pitch 3 (100', 5.9+)
Tiptoe up and left on thin, varnished holds past 2 bolts. Head up toward the brushy, bolted belay/rap station. Note the pile of loose rocks next to the anchor.
From the anchor do a single rope rap down and climber's right to the brushy ledge that marks the top of pitch 2. If you have a second rope rap to the base. If not, there is an alternate rap station part of the way straight down (not the top of pitch 1, which is off to the climber's right). We did not use this, but noted that the cordage was UV damaged as of Dec 2009.
There is a (lengthy) walk-off option. From the top of the route head up into Painted Bowl. From here go SW aiming the large boulder on the west shoulder of the ebowl. Note: you will have to contour before the (IBM) boulder comes into view. Continue west until the ramps become a vegetated terrace. Head down a steep gully and zig-zag down the ramp system. The final crux involves getting down 20' of extremely slick water-polished slab to reach the streambed. Head downstream to the trail system and return to your car.
Once on the main Oak Creek trail follow the trail up the canyon. It will eventually head downhill as it parallels the Solar Slab area. Note that there are a number of alternate trails in this area, but the key is to eventually end up in the wash. Take in the views as you hike up the wash, scrambling over large boulders for ~55 minutes.
As you approach the far end of Black Arch wall you will see some cairns marking a boulder-filled gully seemingly choked with scrub oak. On our ascent this looked improbable and we ended up continuing to a another set of large boulders that led up the hill marked by an easy mantle problem at the start. This way also went, however, the gully had fewer brushy sections.
Work your way across the slabs up and right to a brushy ledge to the right of the prominent black arch. Note that the route starts much higher than There and Back Again. Look for a large white detached flake with a single bolt ~20 feet up.
Approach time: ~1.5 hours
- Small rack to 2"
- Backup webbing/rap rings
- Extra rope (optional)
Jonny pondering the crux move. Photo by Gigi. 12/3...
approaching the final belay
By Sherri Lewis
From: Sequim, WA
Apr 29, 2010
Climbed this route last November. It is a sweet line that is well worth doing if you're already in the neighborhood. The varnish on the thin moves of P3 is amazing. At the time we did the route, it appeared there had been recent, significant rockfall above the rap station.(see comments about this on There and Back Again route.)
By Cunning Linguist
Dec 4, 2011
Did this one today as I'd been told that there was need of bolt replacement on the route. Not so! The initial pro bolt is in a fully hollow flake, but I'm sure would take falls, and the climbing is fun. We switched out the hangers at the first anchor for stainless Fixe Ring Anchors, (thank the ASCA and donate, slackers), that was the extent of the work done. The first two pitches never got harder than 7+, we belayed at the bolted first pitch anchor and linked the short (60-70ft) 2nd pitch and the crux pitch easily with a 60. The crux moves ARE thin, really the first place you slow down on the whole route. 9+ seemed right on to us, a helpful tip is to head RIGHT of the bushy ledge to the anchor, which is just below the scrub oak fiesta.
IMPORTANT: The rap route easily goes with a single 70. HOWEVER, we did get our rope significantly stuck JUST UNDER the top bolted anchor when rapping using 2 60s. I strongly suggest grabbing a chunk of rock and wedging it in the crack just under the bolted anchor if ours has pulled out-this rap can be fast and convenient with one rope, but a total fucking nightmare if you have to re-climb 2/3 of the route to retrieve the last four inches of the rope heinously wedged into the crack. The raps go bolts to down and right to the tree, straight down to the 'plate of fate' station, which we added new cord to, not as scary as I'd expected, and to your packs. The pro bolts on P1+2 weren't really necessary, the ones on P3 are very helpful. All hardware in great shape as of 12/11.