Shillelagh (AKA Diagonal Route)
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The South Face of the Wedge is truly impressive: smooth granite walls baked by the sun, improbable looking roofs. This route was bold in it's day, and even with modern climbing gear is a climbing accomplishment. Originally called the South Face, Diagonal route, it is more commonly referred to by it's nickname Shillelagh as is evidenced from the summit register.
P1: Starts off as a right-facing chimney with a couple large chock-stones to surmount. A crux section of 5.9 hand jamming gains a belay stance. 100ft. A 5.7 variation climbs a bushy ledge system about 100ft up-hill from the original start and joins up at the Green Band.
P2: Some variations exist: Either climb the chimney system on the right-hand side (5.8) or attempt the grassy corner system just to its left (5.7?). After 120ft the trees are reached. You are now at the far right end of the "Green band".
P3: A traversing pitch: run out your rope traversing the Green band and up some slabs to a ledge beneath the summit overhangs. 5.6, 180ft.
P4: The crux pitch. Climb through the beautiful summit overhangs, marveling at how the first ascentionists managed to get through these challenges. Two crux sections (5.9+) gain a large corner system where the climbing eases to 5.6 up to the top of the West Ridge.
P5: Finish up the final pitch of The West Ridge.
This route is difficult to point out during the approach, because the first 2 pitches are hidden from site by The Tooth. Approach via the gully between the The Tooth and The Wedge which narrows down near a large dead tree. About 100 yards past the tree is a right-facing chimney just to the right of a large, blank slab.
The obvious land-mark on the Wedge's South face is a tree-filled ledge high up on the face, commonly referred to by Dr. Ingraham as "The Green band". Shillelagh climbs up to the right side of the Green band, and then up through a series of steep overlaps to gain the West ridge a pitch below the summit.
Approach and descent require a good deal of scrambling ability and bushwhacking.
On the first ascent, a Shillelagh (wooden stick) was used to get past the summit overhangs. Nowadays, a few large cams (#4 friend) are all you need. Even so, there are two old 1/4" bolts on the crux pitch, but there are good placements below and above these, so there is really no excuse to rely on them.
Many of the trees along the route have poot slings and rappel gear and you can rappel the route easily until you pass the crux pitch, at which point you're best off finishing the route.
|Photos of Shillelagh (AKA Diagonal Route) Slideshow
Scott Jones nearing the top of Pitch 1.
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 1 climbs the chimney/crack system in the mid...
Wedge (mid 1980s): where is the stick...
|Comments on Shillelagh (AKA Diagonal Route)
|By Bill Lawry|
From: New Mexico
Oct 22, 2012
Climbed this today with franciscov. It's a great route. Some comments ...
P1: The tree at the end of this pitch is small and offers a kind of hanging belay (with supplemental gear).
P2's "attempt the grassy corner system just to its left:" It is probably around 5.9. Leave the 4" piece and bring a 5" instead if going this way.
P3: If you put the belay as high as practical in the treed vegetation, a 60 meter rope will just reach to the West Ridge on P4 with care about rope drag.
P4: Jackson's "Rock Climbing NM" guide gives more detail if unsure about route finding skills or expecting to be short on time.