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BETA PHOTO: Looking up at the Werner's Ant Trees start, taken ...
While not quite as classic as neighboring climbs like Munginella and Commitment, The Surprise provides 2 excellent pitches of climbing. Supertopo lists the route as 5 pitches, but it is very easy and recommended to link pitches 1 and 2 into a single 150' pitch.
Start at an ant-infested tree and climb dirty corner past a small pine tree. Continue up to an oak tree (long sling helps reduce rope drag), and start traversing right along broken ledge system, passing one ancient 1/4" bolt about half-way along the ledge. Belay below a nice-looking, clean hand crack.
Pitch 2 ascends the clean 5.8 crack above, with a cruxy step left at about 90' up. Belay at 135' at a good stance and one solid bolt.
Pitch 3 tackles a 5.9+ crack with perfect finger locks. When the crack suddenly ends (surprise!), make a delicate couple of steps left (5.10a) and continue up easier ground (5.7) to the top (115').
As for all the routes at the Five Open Books area, be exceedingly careful not to dislodge loose rocks from the top.
To descend, walk to climber's left for several hundred yards along good (but sometimes exposed) trail.
The Surprise is located to the right of both Munginella and Commitment in the middle of the cliff.
From: Oakland CA
Jul 24, 2007
Be sure to make the traverse. I went straight up and did "The Old Surprise" one day. Went straight up the book (hey, it's one of the 5, right? Right?) and found lots of dirty, R, and uninspiring 5.8. I was 40' above a totally rusted 1/4"er when I pulled around the semi-blind crux. A different kind of surprise.
EDIT: as it turns out, I was on the wrong route! I was actually on the Hanging Teeth!
Mar 11, 2008
Start with Werner's Ant Trees.... great fun.
The second and third pitches are excellent splitter cracks from fingers to hands.
From: Prescott, AZ
Oct 17, 2009
4 star linkup starts with Werner's Ant Trees variation. The upper Suprise Cracks are so splitter and a worthy outing. This linkup can be done in two long pitches with a 70m rope.
|By Alexander B.|
From: Ojai CA
May 27, 2010
Good climb, some dirt....but the upper crack(s) are well worth it.
From: San Francisco
Nov 8, 2010
Did the 3 pitch, Werners Ant Tree, to the 2 pitch Surprise combo, great route. 5.8 pitch is super fun and .10a thin hands/finger crack above was stellar.
Be mindful of your rope drag, belay early or suck it up and deal with the nuisance on easier terrain above the crux section of Werners.
|By Rodger Raubach|
Mar 15, 2011
The upper crack is outstanding! My GF led the last pitch and took her first, albeit short, leader fall on the 5.10a section. Didn't faze her at all. We both loved the climb.
|By Mark P Thomas|
May 23, 2011
Fell at the .10a crux when a crimper flake broke off. Something not too common on a route in the Valley! Apparently this route doesn't get climbed a lot :-) Really fun last 2 pitches though. 1st pitch was dirty & forgettable.
From: Oakland CA
Nov 18, 2011
Finally found the Surprise, 4 years later! Funny that the description above says The Surprise is not as classic as Munginella or Commitment. When combined with Werner's Ant Trees, this is the best of the Open Book routes.
From: Oakland, CA
Apr 30, 2012
I tried the Werner's Ant Trees alternate start this time and it caused some problems. The 10a lieback is awesome but then at the roof I couldn't figure out the 10c move so after about 10 min I tried the more obvious 10d way, got pumped and went for a ride on a purple tcu behind that scary thin flake. Any one remember beta for either the 10c or d section?
|By Rodger Raubach|
Jul 29, 2012
I've done the Surprise both ways, the "old way" and the "direct." Do the direct, since it's really an outstanding crack climb at 5.10a. The first belay in an ant tree is "forgettable."
|By J. Albers|
Jul 30, 2012
C'mon now Rodger, saying that the direct start (Werner's Ant Tree) is 10a is a little bit of a sandbag, don't you think? It is a good pitch, but probably closer to 10c than to 10a.