|Central Wall Area
Shrouded in mystery until recently, an ominous description in an older guidebook makes this route sound impossible and terrifying. In reality, the route merely suffers from a well-known Index paradox: like most long Upper Town Wall free routes, despite the fact that Rise and Fall is amazing and was established in the 90's and at a relatively modest grade, it saw few (if any?) subsequent ascents until the summer of 2010. With more traffic, the climb has been rediscovered as a classic. The 'R' section on the 5.10- second pitch isn't that runout; it seems bolts may have been added at some point in the past. Appropriately, the climb was named after an incident involving one of the first ascentionists and an unfortunate rappel off the ends of his ropes while descending the route. Miraculously, he limped away from the fifty foot ground fall and subsequent tumble with a mere broken ankle (and maybe a few ribs; story can be found in old Climbing or Rock and Ice magazine)! Anyway, here are the pitch descriptions:
(Approach via Green Dragon or Davis Holland)
P1: Climb the corner that comprises the second pitch of Green Dragon past four bolts before moving left onto a face. Traverse left with difficulty, then up a quartzite dike that leads to a physical crux section. Liebacking and face climbing on the continuing dike leads to an anchor (.12a/b)
P2: Airy climbing up a dike leads past a roof and some really cool rock to another belay atop a small ledge (.10a). Short and not really runout.
P3: Another short pitch. From the belay, climb right and up more quartz holds and some knobs in a corner to a crack lieback. Surmount the roof above the lieback and pull over onto a slab. Get your magic toes ready and pull off a thin mantle and a tough slab move or two (crux) before the climbing relents and a belay is reached (.11d).
P4: Climb a long and varied slab with some wild pockets (even a monodoigt or two!), roofs, bulges and a couple of thin crux sections (.11c).
P5: Climb overhanging, blocky rock to an anchor below the top of the Upper Town Wall (.10b). Loose in places; one of the bolts is in a hanging three or four ton block stack that vibrated when I sounded it out, so use caution. There is natural gear near the bolt if attaching yourself to it makes you nervous. Short pitch.
Either do another twenty feet of climbing to reach the very top or, more prudently, rappel the route.
Approach the route via Davis Holland P1 (a fun 5.9 varied hand crack and fourth class ledges) or via Green Drag-on P1 (a really cool 5.11- varied finger crack and fourth class ledges). Bring nuts for the finger crack option. Belay beneath a large right-facing corner with some bolts and a flake at the start. The approach pitches are a bit to the left of where the trail meets the Upper Town Wall.
Rappel with a single rope. 60m is probably adequate, but I think a 70m reduced our rappels by one or two.
Mostly bolts, but gear is required on the approach pitch and some finger-sized cams are crucial for a safe experience on the rest of the climb. Aside from the first pitch, I used one small cam on each of the pitches except the second (5.10a) pitch. A singles rack from small to .5 Camalot size will provide good options for the placements. 16 draws, including some runners, were more than enough for us. For either of the approach pitches, hand sized pieces and a good selection of stoppers will supplement the smaller cams nicely. Doubles in finger size cams useful for the 5.11a option.
All the anchors are chain equipped, have at least two bolts and are in good shape.
Aug 31, 2010
Excellent route description. This climb deserves traffic. It's old fashioned rock climbing but well protected.
Great story about rapping the ends of the rope. That makes for two heinous but lucky falls in that area.
Feb 4, 2012
I minitraxioned the route from the top down. It was easy and straight forward to do, though the climbing was hard and cryptic. Amazing climbing!