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Sand Castle is a seriously cool trad route that climbs a natural line up the middle of the Sand Castle face. The Sand Castle formation is the big pyramidal face capped with varnish-plated pink rock at the top, left of the Armatron area. The route climbs a naturally protected line between the two obvious crack/chimney systems.
p1) Start at the base of the wall beneath the Sand Castle. Pull up a varnished finger crack that rises out of the bushes below and left of the big Armatron slab. Climb the finger crack through a spot of hard climbing (protects well, could be the crux) up to the slab above. From here you have two options. The FA went left and up the left facing corner above, and pulled over right onto the varnished slab/rib beneath the roof (.10-, PG13 above a ledge). Alternatively, you can step right of the rib and follow moderate climbing up to beneath the roof. (Or you can avoid all the initial difficult bits by coming in from the Armatron slab out right).
At the top of the rib, pull the committing roof (step up to place decent gear) and above- traverse left immediately on good varnish with a couple thin pieces to the base of a shallow left facing corner in the middle of the face. Belay here for a ~190' pitch on small cams and nuts. ~5.10. This pitch could be broken into two ~95' pitches for a friendlier outing and a belay nearer the roof.
p2) a really long money pitch that climbs three distinct sections of fun rock. climb the dihedral straight up, pull through some super juggy huecos above, and then step past a bulge onto the beautiful varnished plates above. at the top of the plates, step onto the top of a platform with a bush and yuccas and belay off tiny gear and a dubious thread, or the bush, or both. ~9+, ~215' (~15-20 ft simulclimbing with a 60m. you could also break this pitch up).
both pitches are really good. a solid step or two up from Armatron, but worth it.
To find the route, look at the beta photo of the sand castle formation. The Sand Castle is the big pyramidal varnish-capped formation left of the Armatron area. There are two big chimney/crack systems that split the face. The left system is 'Hueco Thanks'. The right looks chossy. Right up the middle of the face between these two rises the actual Sand Castle route. Look at the photo then pick your start.
Descent: walk climber's left on the big ledge to a pine tree/bolt anchor, and rappel the sport route in the huge corner (five rap stations to the ground). short single rope raps. a 50m rope would probably be fine, but i havent tried.
It also looks like with some 5th class scrambling and messing around, you could get to the neat pitches out climber's right that go to the top.
it looks like a big face, but it protects. single rack to #3, a couple extra small cams (blue, green yellow alien would be nice). double nuts and tons of runners.
to sew it up- break up the long pitches, or bring more tiny/small/med nuts +/- tricams which go into huecos and avoid runouts on much easier climbing.
Dow heading up the rib on P1
Dow at the base of P2 (blocking the dihedral).
BETA PHOTO: The sand castle face
|By Jon O'Brien|
May 10, 2010
was this a ground up ascent or was it worked on top rope prior to the lead?
|By Anthony Anagnostou|
Sep 7, 2010
ground up. i wasn't sure what to expect at the roof, so i brought a silver bullet for the first ascent: Tom.
(plus, that meant i got the money pitch).