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Spearhead
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Spear Me the Details 

YDS: 5.11d French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 8 pitches, 700', Grade III
Consensus:  YDS: 5.11d French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Davis & Beidleman
Page Views: 11,085
Submitted By: David A. Turner on Jul 5, 2002

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Seth Finkelstein climbing some sweet stone on Spea...

Description 

This is a magical mystery tour. It has lots of variety including steep face climbing similar to the domes of Tuolumne Meadows. There may be no better face climbing in the Park.

The route starts on Middle Earth, which can be accessed by various means.

P1. The first pitch of the route proper begins to the right of the Eye of Mordor, a huge, seriously sinister, vertical gouge left of center on Spearhead's east face.

The first pitch is easy, taking you to a big ledge. The next pitch climbs straight up into an obvious dihedral, which grows wide at its top (5.9). Not much gear toward the end, unless you brought a 12" piece. I did not but found that focused liebacking brought me to its top and the next big ledge.

P3. The third pitch heads left, through a hole, and onto a ramp. Before heading too far along the ramp, climb up and through an overhang/flake, onto the next ledge which curves into a right-facing dihedral (5.10a).

P4. The fourth pitch heads up the dihedral, over a small roof and hand traverses left into another short dihedral. Belay from slings towards its top (5.10c). This is a cool pitch.

P5. Next, a thin hand crack in a short dihedral quickly turns into a short, somewhat horizontal, finger crack. The crack dies into the sweeping wall above. Figure out how to put your feet where your hands are and stand up onto a golden wall of knobs (crux). Climb toward and ultimately onto a memorable flake and then up right toward a shallow, short dihedral (more cruxey climbing here as well).

Rossiter's guide suggests belaying at the base of the dihedral. I kept going and joined two pitches together into 165 feet of incredible climbing. You will need lots of runners if you do this. The next section heads up the dihedral, breaks out right into more wonderful face climbing and then into another shallow short dihedral, belaying at its top (5.11a/b). Take a breather.

P6. The next pitch heads up a series of dihedrals. Belay on top of the second one (5.8).

P7. You are now below the exit pitch. The rock changes dramatically in character at this point but remains solid. Clip a bolt, mince left toward a thin crack and get some smallish stoppers in it. Then head straight up the crack to the summit (5.10b).


Protection 

Lots of quick draws, shoulder runners and a small standard rack with TCUs.



Photos of Spear Me the Details Slideshow Add Photo
Duncan on the crux of Spear Me the Details.
Duncan on the crux of Spear Me the Details.
Jim B. crimping down on Spear Me the Details, this is the 5.11b pitch.
Jim B. crimping down on Spear Me the Details, this...
Duncan on the crux pitch of Spear Me.  Photo taken from All Two Obvious.
Duncan on the crux pitch of Spear Me. Photo taken...
Seth on the final 5.11 pitch.
Seth on the final 5.11 pitch.
BETA PHOTO
Coming up the 10b 3rd pitch.  Cool face climbing with some spooky runouts.
Coming up the 10b 3rd pitch. Cool face climbing w...
Climber on the crux pitch of Spear Me The Details.  He is just about to reach the wild flake.  Other climbers in the foreground are on Syke's.
Climber on the crux pitch of Spear Me The Details....
More than a couple of screamers. <br /> <br />John Luna and Brian Asbury after completing the final crux pitch of Spear Me The Details. 07/07.
More than a couple of screamers.

John Luna and Br...
The money pitch.
The money pitch.
The fourth pitch.
The fourth pitch.
The blue line is the route we took for Spear Me The Details.  The red line is an unknown (to us) 5.9 left of Ten Essentials we climbed the previous day.
BETA PHOTO: The blue line is the route we took for Spear Me Th...
Seth on the sweet and spicy third pitch.
Seth on the sweet and spicy third pitch.
Starting up the approach pitch to Middle Earth. We simul climbed all the way to the top of the first pitch of SMTD  which seemed like a good way to go. It gets you about a third of the way up the wall fast.
Starting up the approach pitch to Middle Earth. We...
Comments on Spear Me the Details Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 22, 2012
By Dougald MacDonald
Aug 21, 2002

The crux of this climb, for me, was very clearly the moves past the initial corner and horizontal crack on the fifth pitch, getting established on the bolted face above. When we did it, the fixed pin was very loose and I had to hang to place solid gear before committing to the move. Rumor has it the pin may now be gone (?). In either case, there are good wires to be found by a determined leader. Maybe it was just the fat bolts, but I thought the climbing above was easier.

On the last pitch, it's easy to avoid the final 5.10 crack if weather is moving in. Just keep going left on ever-easier ground. If you don't place any pro past the crack (reasonable), you can walk back on the summit rocks and flip the rope around for a good TR for the second.

Great route.

By jason seaver
From: Estes Park, CO
Aug 28, 2002

I definitely agree on the location of the crux. The rest of the climbing on the crux pitch felt significantly easier than those moves out of the initial corner. As of July of last summer, there was no pin in this section. I, too, had to hang in order to fiddle in a good nut (green stopper I believe). We were racing an approaching thunderstorm that day, so in an effort to speed things up I linked the crux pitch with the one above it. This went rather well with double ropes and plenty of 'biners / quickdraws, and it made for an extraordinarily spectacular and LONG pitch. I think Spear Me The Details is every bit as good as All Two Obvious. The stone up on that headwall is SO frickin' good......

By David Benson
Jul 14, 2003

Don't place too much faith in Rossiter's topo (or Gillette's either) for this excellent route. On the fourth pitch (crossing the hole) Rossiter doesn't show a bolt, but the bolt is where it says 10a on the topo (There's also two fixed pins). I ended up too far left and had to traverse to the belay (now just a single pin w/ slings). Fifth pitch (labeled 10c hand traverse) is really a mantle move. Seems everyone but the guidebook authors agrees that the crux of the sixth pitch (11d) is getting from the start of the diagonal crack to the first bolt. Rossiter shows the 11d move at the last bolt, but this seems downright casual (~10d/11a) compared to the openning moves. The first pin is missing and there are seven, not eight bolts on this pitch. On the seventh pitch, two of the three pins (in the left facing corner past the bolts) are missing -- but I think this makes things easier, since there are a few small tips pockets. Hard but likely not 11b anymore. Great route, have fun.

By Stefan Griebel
Jul 28, 2003
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

I agree with all previous comments regarding the crux. I was able to slot a bomber small stopper from a non-strenuous lieback/handjam before commiting myself to the crux moves. I would definitely recommend running the 2 crux pitches together as the hanging belay at the end of the 1st crux pitch is not too comfortable.

The "10d mantel" noted on Gillet's topo is 5.9+ if you move 1' to the right of the bolt.

Regarding the topo, there may be some pin/bolt count discrepancies, but the accuracy of the features and climbing line is excellent. 7 bolts? 8 bolts? Ahh, spear me the details.

By Jeff G.
From: Fort Collins
Jul 4, 2008
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13

The flake on the crux pitch is one of coolest features I've ever climbed on! A great route with amazing variety and excellent position.

By Jonathan Siegrist
From: his truck
Jul 18, 2009
rating: 5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a

Firstly, this route is fantastic. It could very well be one of my favorites the Park has to offer. Secondly, I will offer some beta that I would have found helpful. The whole climb can be done in 5 pitches with a 70m by combining the first two 5.8s and the two 5.11s. Brilliant.

My Dad and I both felt that the moves to the first bolt on the crux pitch were NOT the most difficult. We thought the crux came later in the pitch. Combining the 5.11s is wicked, and should not be missed. No single move on this mega pitch is 11d, but there is a lot of 5.11 rock climbing on it, and only moderate rests. The final 5.10 pitch is actually very fun as well.

Many of the pins mentioned above and in the guide are now gone, but aside from the sweeping slabs (1/4 inch bolts), this climb takes great gear everywhere. Get after it!

By Eli Helmuth
From: Estes Park, CO
Aug 23, 2009

I replaced the remainder of the 1/4 inch buttonheads/Leeper hangers and some short (1") 5/16" expansion bolts on this route (7 total) and beefed up a couple of the belays with bolts (4 total). The '10c' mantle is 5.9 as Stefan says by staying 1' right of the bolt and there is no HT (hand traverse) as specified in the Gillett topo- you climb almost straight up from the belay (loose 5.8) past the small overlap into the small right-facing dihedral to a nice ledge.

I replaced the fat arrow piton at the crux of the crack, (which seemed about llc?) and there are some more thin moves (harder for me and I like thin face) before reaching the last dihedral to the belay atop the second 5.11 pitch. The other two crucial fixed pitons on the 5.11 pitches pulled out easily and so I re-placed them but freeze/thaw could loosen them soon enough. For sure this is some of the hardest stone I've ever hand-drilled in and it completely 'mushroomed' one of my drill bits.

I've done the route in 5 pitches with a 60m by linking pitches one and two to near the top of the ramp above middle earth. Pitch two climbs up to and includes the 5.8R left-facing corner pitch. Pitch three joins the first two 5.10/9 pitches (use long runners on the zig-zags of the start of that pitch to avoid rope drag). Pitch 4 joins the two 5.11 pitches (52m) and pitch 5 takes you to the top. Or you can easily break this stellar route into 9 depending on your preferences.

There are still a few old SMC hangers on newer bolts (that were already replaced) and I'll eventually get up there with the correct wrench to replace those old aluminum hangers with real steel.

By jack roberts
Sep 11, 2009

Paul Gagner and I did this route yesterday (Sept.10, 2009) and were grateful for the hard work that Eli put in replacing the crux pitons and putting in BIG new bolts. Makes the route much safer than the older bolts.

This route can easily be done in five 60m pitches. We had a 70m rope and probably, had we not forgotten most of our slings and left them at home, could have done it in four pitches. AN AWESOME ROUTE!!!

The walk off down the East Ledges descent route was very quick....

By Keen Butterworth
From: Boulder
Sep 24, 2009

Gillett's topo seemed to be spot on, except I do agree the crux comes lower in the 5th pitch and not near the top where both topos suggest. Besides that, it seemed very accurate. Thanks for replacing the bolts, Eli! Great route!

By Adam Scheer
Jul 29, 2010

Spear Me The Details was a fantastic route. An amazing and continuous crux pitch leads to more quality climbing above. Just when you think you're done, the last pitch provides a little extra spice with an unprotected traverse to a finger crack protected by a small nut.

I submitted the beta photo above to show the line we took for Spear Me The Details. Attempting to follow the description above and our memories of the topo, from the top of the pitch 2 (proper - beginning on Middle Earth) lieback, we traversed to the ledge about 40 feet right. We then followed a chossy ramp back left. This seemed like a waste. If there is a better way from the top of the pitch 2 flake to establish on the crux pitches above, please comment accordingly.

Also, if anybody has a good idea of what route the red line is, please let me know.

A writeup and photos of our experience on Spear Me The Details and in Glacier Gorge can be found here: climbinghouse.com/2010/07/spearhead.html.

By Jeff G.
From: Fort Collins
Jul 29, 2010
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13

Adam, you guys missed the spicy but classic third pitch. After the 5.8 lieback pitch you traverse straight left then up passing a few pins and a bolt.

By Monty
From: Golden, CO
Aug 22, 2010
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13

  • The crux pin is no longer... it pulled when I slipped on the crux.

Luckily you can get a good #4 stopper before commiting to the crux moves.

By Brady Robinson
Sep 15, 2011
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

Did this last weekend, what a great route! I'd say there isn't any need to replace the crux piton. (Spoiler Alert) If I were to go back again I'd have a quick draw with a #4 stopper and another draw with a #3 RP (to be placed along its longer axis) ready to go once you pass the roof after the dihedral of pitch five. I got the gear in, got to the bolt and reached for a clipping hold...that wasn't there. Stay in the crack to clip. Took a 10 footer onto the RP, and it held no problem. The move from the face onto the huge thin flake was pretty hard too, though the final bolts on pitch five were very mellow compared to the beginning. Very fun and exciting day out, go do it!

By Patrick Vernon
From: Albuquerque, NM
Jul 22, 2012
rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a PG13

What an incredible route, possibly my favorite in the alpine! A little spicier than I was expecting, exiting the dihedral at the beginning of the crux is committing with hard to place thin gear (if you want to sew it up before the bolt), I thought the moves into the left facing dihedral at the end of the pitch equally challenging with plenty of micro route finding on nubbins and a raging calf pump. The second 5.11 pitch had a spicy off balance .9+ move a ways above a crappy knifeblade and a thin dihedral with not a lot of options for feel good pro. Perfect rock for most of the way with challenging thought provoking face climbing, this route is awesome!