The South Face of the Wedge is truly impressive: smooth granite walls baked by the sun, improbable looking roofs. This route was bold in its 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 its nickname Shillelagh as is evidenced from the summit register.
P1, 5.9, 120 ft: Start up a right-facing chimney with a couple of large chock-stones to surmount. A crux section of 5.9 hand jamming gets you to a small tree with a backup nut in place for a belay. However, continuing up another 20 ft to a bit of an overhang provides a better protection from loose rocks. A 5.7 variation climbs a bushy ledge system about 100ft uphill from the original start and joins up at the Green Band.
P2, 5.8, 180ft: Continue up the chimney system and then the wooded corner/ledge which it turns into - the Green Band Ingraham describes. Climbing will ease of substantially once out of the chimney and traversing the Green Band.
P3, 5.6, 80ft: Go up a groove and then left on top edge of a flake so thin its existence alone demonstrates how rarely this route is climbed. Continue up the slabs to a ledge beneath the summit overhangs.
P4, 5.9+, 100ft: Climb through the beautiful summit overhangs, marveling at how the first ascentionists managed to get through these challenges. Two crux sections gain a large corner system where the climbing eases to 5.6 up to the top of the West Ridge.
P5, 5.8, 110ft: 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 sight by The Tooth
. Approach via the gully between the The Tooth
and The Wedge
which narrows down near a large dead tree. About 300 feet past the tree is a right-facing chimney just to the right of a large, blank slab.
The obvious landmark 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 better off finishing the 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 It is possible to go left from the little tree on P1 up a grassy corner. 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.
By Alex Ch
From: Fairfield, CT
Nov 21, 2015
5 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation on the approach. It took us 4 hours, as both of us were new to the area. Lots of bushwhacking through prickers, a good amount of wet slab. Actually quite dangerous unless we really just fucked up and picked an unfavorable path. Climbing was stellar, but would want to go back with a local next time.
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Nov 22, 2015
Sounds like the description of the approach we took, Alex.