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This route is a significant variation on the Center Ramp route on Mt Alice. It begins and ends at the same places as the Center Ramp, but follows the left side of the ramp for three pitches. The rock on this route is decent but quite lichenous and is very slick when wet. The climbing is varied, less well-protected, and somewhat less aesthetic than the Center Ramp, but provides an alternative if the regular route is "crowded." In addition, this route description provides a guide for those who get off-route on the mountain, which, if our experience is any indication, is fairly common.
The first ascentionists are not known, but given the popularity of Mt Alice, it's likely someone else has been this way before. When we climbed the route in August 2009 it showed no signs of previous traffic except for a very iffy-looking rap sling on the variation's first pitch (P4 below). In any case, we will cheerfully yield the FA to anyone who has a viable claim to a previous FA.
P1-P3: Ascend the Center Ramp route's two approach pitches and the 5.8 dihedral option (not the 5.5 chimney) on for the first 5th-class pitch as described for the Center Ramp.
P4: From the belay atop the 5.8 dihedral, move the belay right and as far up as practical and ascend a broken, left-facing dihedral/chimney with a slung chockstone about 15m up. Exit right above the chockstone, climb some vague cracks for another 10m, then step left onto a crystal-studded wall (5.7, marginal pro). Set a hanging belay on poor pro at the top of the crystal wall, or stretch the rope up and right for another 5-10m to a cramped ledge with better pro. 60m, 5.7R.
P5: From the cramped ledge, traverse right and slightly down for about 8m along a substantial crack with a couple of loose stones. Ascend an obvious hand crack for several moves, then move left into a second crack. Climb the crack, then traverse right for 5-10m and climb easy cracks and face to a broad, grassy ledge. Eat lunch. 5.8, 35m.
P6: Climb straight up from the left side of the ledge, then traverse right for 15m on easy ground. Set an optional belay at the base of a battered-looking chimney, or continue up the chimney. Step right into some shallow cracks, and head up and right to a prominent ledge about 10m below a roof. This is the top of the Center Ramp's 4th pitch as described elsewhere. 5.7, 50m
Finish the route via the Center Ramp description.
A standard rack to #3 Camalot size is sufficient. A #11 Hexcentric is essential...mainly for igniting "strike anywhere" matches that, uh, don't like to burn at a 12,000-foot bivy.
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