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BETA PHOTO: First three pitches of the Scarface on Liberty Cap...
Scarface now goes both free and clean. This route starts with a few hundred feet of dirty cracks before entering the clean white granite of the rock scar. The difficulty of this routes lies in the two 5.12 crux pitches, P5 and P8. The rest of the route is in the 5.10 to 5.11- range and climbs quite quickly.
If the first few pitches clean up more this has the potential to be a great route. As it stands expect a little bit of foliage at the start and on the last pitch. All belays up to P9 have bolts or are at trees with rappel slings. This would still be a very fun outing at 5.11a C2 and could be done in a day.
Pitch 1 - 5.11a - 90 feet - 2 bolts
From the ground climb up a series of dirty ledges and step left to short corner. Stem and layback up until you can move left to the base of a thin crack. Climb the thin crack, passing a bolt and get established in a slabby corner. A few hard moves getting to, and working past another bolt lead to an exciting stemming sequence and a belay at a tree on the left.
This pitch is often dirty and can be wet in the early spring. Having a nut tool to clean out the crack is a plus. The stances are pretty good, so you cleaning on the go doesn't add much difficulty.
Pitch 2 - 5.10c/d - 175 feet
From the belay work up to the right and start climbing the long and varied corner. A crux comes pretty early getting past a bulge. Midway up the pitch you will mantel up onto a dirty ledge with a pink rope setup as a rap station, keep climbing!
The endless layback resumes with nice finger slots and a few bushes. Make a few hard moves to get through a short chimney section and a nice rest out right. Romp up the final crack, with some more fun laybacking! Belay at a good stance at the tree with a green rappel sling.
Pitch 3 - 5.10d - 85 feet
This is the cleanest of the first three pitches. Start off with a few tricky layback moves or stem up using the large dead tree as a foot hold. Crisp finger locks lead you out right to yet another section of slopey layback (hopefully you've got it dialed by now). Punch it until the edge of the crack gets better and figure out how to get yourself standing on the chalkstone. A couple more tricky moves get you to a grove of trees. Sling something for pro and do some easy (5.7/5.8) but unprotected face climbing on the wall to the right of the trees to get established on a big, and often sunny, ledge. Belay at two bolts.
Pitch 4 - 5.10b R - 110 feet
The climbing is never particularly run out, but there are occasional places where there is loose rock and one spot with bad fall potential, thus the R rating. The climbing on the "R" section is not much harder than 5.8/5.9, just be careful with rock quality.
Start just to the right of the bolted belay with thin gear and a few mantels. Some tricky stemming gets you established on a wide ledge. Go right and up through some chossy rock to get established in an awesome left leaning hand crack. When the crack ends step to the right avoiding the ledge covered in loose rock. Some thin gear protects tricky moves to get into a chossy hand crack. Fun crack and face moves over a series of blocks lead to a two bolt belay on a nice 3' x 5' ledge.
Pitch 5 - 5.12 - 110 feet - 3 bolts
My rack: 2 Red C3, 2 Green Alien, 3 Yellow Alien, 2 Grey Alien, 1 Red Alien, 2 #.5 camalot, Single Green C3. More thin gear if aiding (000 and 00 C3 useful).
The first of many stellar pitches. From the belay you can either face climb straight up past two bolts or use the wide crack out left. In both cases be careful to avoid the precarious stacked blocks above the wide crack. Traverse across the grainy rail until you reach a no-hands stance. Face climb/layback up a semi-expando flake with good gear out left. Mantel up on the block/feature above you which provides a nice no hands rest. Clip a bolt and check out the tricky traverse to the leaning crack.
Bust out a short crimpy boulder problem, 5.11, and make a few hard moves up the crack to get established on a foot rail. Recovery is key since the next ten feet are tips! Red C3 fits best since green aliens are too big. The crack is quite off-set so heel hooks and tricky foot work are possible. Once you pass the small bush, the crack changes corners again and gets steeper. It quickly goes to rattly fingers (.5 camalots) and the feet disappear. Luckily the crack is pretty sharp and you can get opposition with your thumb. Fight your way up the leaning crack until a hand jam pod, where you can catch a rest.
The crack thins back down to fingers, but by now you should be quite pumped and wishing a good foot would magically appear. After a few moves your prayer is answered in the way of a thin hand jam and the notion that you have almost done it. Grr your way up a few more fingerlocks and until you can reach a hand crack that takes you the rest of the way to the anchor. Belay at two bolts on a small ledge and enjoy the pump that goes all the way to the bone.
Pitch 6 - 5.10c/d - 165 feet - 1 bolt.
Confident leaders can get away with a single #3 and #4 on this pitch.
Start off with enjoyable thin hands off the belay until you must switch to the left crack. Climb up the grainy rock on your left which goes from thin hands to hands. Catch a rest, clip a bolt and navigate over some scary stacked blocks. Despite the detached appearance the blocks stay in place and you are soon greeted with a splitter wide crack. Fist jam up clean granite making sure to bump along your #4 camalot. Eventually difficulty eases and you get a rest on a short slab. Another #4 camalot can go in here or you can run it out until you can place a finger sized piece in a thin crack on the left. Dual cracks lead up with plentiful gear options until you pass another wide section of crack. Laybacking seems to be the best option here and eventually the crack thins to nothing. Make a hero reach from the last finger lock to a perfect jug. A few easy moves leads to a two bolt anchor on a reasonable ledge.
Pitch 7 - 5.10d - 90 feet - 6 bolts
Start climbing up the wide crack until you can see a line of three bolts with black hangers. The original line continues further up the wide crack before cutting left on a ladder with mix of rivets and 1/4 inch bolts. The free line joins the aid ladder at the last bolt (which was upgraded to 3/8").
Climb a series of small ledges angling up and to the left past the three bolts. A combination of mantels and trickery will get you to the highest foot rail. Make a long reach to clip a bolt and get established on the slab. The holds get progressively better and you work back to the right to another bolt (which is the end of the aid ladder). From here follow the bottom of a flake to the left via underclings. Gear in a crack to the right can protect the crux reach to thin seams/crimps on the face. The flake you are climbing gets steeper and eventually a series of good fingerlocks leads to a two bolt belay at hanging stance. The belay is more comfortable if you throw a finger sized piece or nut in the crack to your right.
Pitch 8 - 5.12 - 90 feet - 2 bolts
Triples of fingers sized gear are essential for this pitch. Make sure to bring a single #2 and #3 camalot.
Steep fingerlocks off the belay lead to a tricky bulge and a good stance. Continue layabacking up the stellar corner passing an occasional section of rattly fingers. Make sure to milk the rests before the crack runs out and there is a bolt. Execute a cruxy reach to good hold on the face, or do some ninja stemming. Clip a second bolt, and boulder up on face holds. Once you get your feet situated you can reach left to a flake system which will take you back into the main corner. When the corner crack pinches out make use of the thin finger crack on the left and execute a final tricky sequence. Move carefully past a loose tooth and traverse right to a nice sloping ledge with two bolts.
Pitch 9 - 5.11a - 70 feet - 1 bolt
From the belay work up the thin corner until you can clip a bolt on the left wall. Balance/slab climb with difficulty, until you can make use of a thin crack on the left wall. Follow this as it becomes a finger crack and then pinches out. A few tricky moves are required before you can reach the next section of finger crack. Keep stemming up the golden rock until you can move left. Easy terrain leads to a belay on a sloping ledge with two bolts.
This is the last point you can rappel from.
Pitch 10 - 5.10a/b - 145 feet - 1 bolt
From the belay climb the dirty wide hands crack until you get to a loose block. Step left and climb up to the obvious left leaning roof. Climb this, extending all your pieces, and pull around past a small stump. Layback and jam up an easy crack until you can reach a dirty ledge. Reach high for a small flake and make a committing move on to the face. Follow the seam to an obvious wide pod, which takes a #3 camalot. Continue up the seam at 5.10 until you reach a ledge covered in manzanita. Continue straight up various low angle cracks and aim for a shiny bolt. Climb on the right side of the bolt slicky stemming up to a good rail. A few more easy moves lead to a ledge.
Belay to the right of a tree with red bark on a ledge with hand sized gear in a flake. This is about 20' above the bolt .
Pitch 11 - 5.10a/b - 100 feet
Climb up past a few loose block until you can step left towards a "chimney". Find a thin flake on the right which becomes a fun hand crack. When the flake pinches out step left to an obvious crack in a corner. Undercling across a small roof and gas it past a tricky section. Face climb up to the right, past occasional cracks towards a clump of manzanita bushes. Pass the bushes on the right side to access a small ledge with a large tree on the right. Belay here.
Pitch 12 - 5.9 - 200+ feet
From the belay trend left along a nice low angle crack system. After about 40 feet the crack pitches out and you will need to step left to a hidden flake, follow this up passing a short roof and head towards some small trees. Follow the past of least resistance as you head towards the summit. It seems best to follow the left leaning gully/crack system towards a large tree. This pitch is low angle and has some moss and sand, tread carefully.
Belay at bigest tree you can reach at the end of your rope.
There is still about 200-300 feet of easy scrambling to the summit. It is best to un-rope at the big tree and walk up the manzanita and slabs in your approach shoes.
Scarface is the one of the furthest left (west) most routes on the Southwest of Liberty Cap. It is just left of the West Buttress but before the slabbier side of Liberty Cap. Start about 300 feet left of the beginning of the large ramp that runs across the base of Liberty Cap. See the beta photos for more details.
You can rappel the route with a 70m rope from the top of pitch 5. The 6th pitch requires two ropes to rappel. Anchors are equipped for rappel up to the top of Pitch 9.
Half set of nuts (optional)
Single Green C3
2 Red C3, 2 Green Alien
3 Yellow Alien
2 Grey Alien
1 Red Alien
2 each #.5 camalot to #2 camalot
1 each #3, #4 camalot.
Optional #3, #4 camalot. (for P6)
From: San Jose
Oct 28, 2013
Good work Luke. Both: climbing and documenting
Apr 2, 2014
Looks awesome! Thanks for all of your hard work, everyone.
Sep 19, 2014
This climb is unreal. The FA team did an amazing job of finding, cleaning, and equipping this route. I can't recommend this climb enough!