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Kevin Worrall following the 3rd pitch. Photo by Ge...
This is an excellent and bold face climb up the center of the North Face Apron. I've only done a couple other 5.9R climbs in the Valley like Marginal and Goodrich Right, but Quicksilver is considerably harder and more serious than either of those. But if you are very solid at the grade this is a route well worth doing. It's also the most moderate route up the NF Apron, with all the other multipitch routes being 5.10-5.11 and with equally frightening runouts. Most of the bolts on the climb are bomber with a couple slightly older 3/8".
The first pitch climbs a large ramp/gully which starts out 3rd class and becomes 5th class at an indistinct point. This is a long pitch but it is best to just rope up on the ground and have your belayer start simul-climbing once you hit the end of the rope. Near the end of the pitch you move out of the gully/corner and onto the face to the left. Here you will encounter a 5.8 crux which is protected by a new piton. Above is a good stance with a bolted anchor.
Pitch 2 is the crux and my partner did a fine job leading this one. From the belay climb straight up to a small gear placement, then make a traverse right across a dike to reach an old piton. From here climb up past a bolt and continuing on to a small roof. There is no pro at the roof and some tricky moves must be made here to move over to the left. Further up and left some small gear can be had behind some flakes. Easier but still heady climbing leads up past a second bolt to the anchor.
For pitch 3 traverse up and left to a corner where you can get some gear. The corner is a little hollow sounding and partly detached. Climb up and past a roof which is actually a hanging block. The gear behind this roof/block is unlikely to hold a fall, and a fall on gear placed behind it could potentially dislodge it which would be disastrous for everyone involved. Climb runout angling up and right to a high first bolt. Then climb straight up on cool knobby rock to a second bolt. At the second bolt traverse right to reach another bolted anchor.
Pitch 4 continues traversing to the right along an easy ramp to the first bolt. Then difficult friction leads further right and then up a shallow corner to a second bolt just above the roof. Pull the roof which is actually pretty burly (a change of pace from the rest of this low angle climb) and continue up to a bolted anchor.
I think this is the end of Quicksilver, but we climbed one more pitch up Freewheelin'. For this pitch climb up easy terrain to the right of the belay. There is some good gear placements and then a 5.7 bulge to the right of a bush. At the ledge traverse left and mantel to another bolted rap anchor.
To descend rappel Freewheelin' with two ropes. It is possible to retreat from the anchors of any pitch on this climb. For the first two pitches you would rappel the route. At the p3 anchor you would either rap the route or Walk of Life. I'm pretty sure two ropes are needed to rappel any of these descent routes.
A variety of small pieces including micro cams and small wires, plus maybe 3 cams in the 1-3" range for the first pitch.
The top of our ascent. I think this 5th pitch was ...
Pitch 3, the sun on our heels.
By Bryan G
Jun 22, 2012
The North Face Apron of MCR is probably my favorite area for low angle face climbing in Yosemite Valley. The rock is as high quality and clean as North Dome or the GPA, but with much more interesting features. There's dishes, knobs, edges, slopers, and there's grey frictiony rock, splotches of polished orange rock, bands of white rock, it's kind of got everything. The climbing is much more varied and memorable than just smear,smear,smear...
It's also one of the best places to get your slab on in summer. It's in a bit of a recess in addition to being north facing and gets generous shade in the morning. In the middle of the day the sun dances along the base, but you can remain in the shadow of the steep headwalls if you are a few pitches up the slab. After maybe 5pm the whole area falls back into the shadow of Lower Cathedral Rock.
By the professor
Jul 7, 2013
Led P2 in 1992, followed P2 and P3 in 2002. In both cases, the leader of P2 was too flummoxed to do any further leading! Devious and runout climbing more suited to the 5.11 slab climber than the budding 5.9 leader.