Avg: 3.8 from 20 votes
|Type:||Trad, Aid, 16 pitches, Grade VI|
|FA:||Becker, Webster, Lella, Newberry|
|Page Views:||28,372 total · 114/month|
|Shared By:||Steve Levin on Feb 17, 2002|
|Admins:||Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC|
Today it is THE wall route to do in the Black, and gets done a fair amount - although not in the Valley trade route sense. It is a beautiful line, taking a fairly direct route up one of the steepest and cleanest sections of rock in the canyon. It has been climbed hammerless, rope-soloed many times, climbed in winter, and subjected to ruthless single-push timed efforts.
Even after many ascents there is still a funk factor, although the route has no doubt cleaned up considerably since the first ascent. There are some potentially dangerous blocks and flakes on pitch 11. Otherwise there is little munge, pegmatite or bad rock- a bit down low and some up high. Most ascents are now clean, but bring a hammer should a fixed head blow.
Several "chicken" rivets have been added to the hooking pitches, and with the well-worn hook placements these blank pitches must be alot easier nowadays. One hooking strategy is to have a complete set of hooks on each of your aiders. This avoids fumbling as you find the right hook and try to remove it from the gear sling. You could also wear rock shoes and a chalk bag to use available face holds when high stepping. With all the hooking you end up doing, it's interesting to note that more than one climber has considered the crux of the route the final headwall rivet ladder, where one memorable rivet is bent down and almost completely out of its sleeve.
One of the most beautiful cactus colonies I have ever seen (anywhere) is directly on this route. Please be careful crossing this clump of delicate plants and arrange your ropes to avoid it. A mid- to late-May ascent may enable one of to see these in full bloom, a sufficently hallucinogenic experience in its own right.
A motivated competent party could leave Boulder after work and bivy on the rim that night, descend at dawn and start climbing, bivy at Fantasy Island day one, Happy Trails day two, then top out (and drive home?) on day 3.
Descend the Cruise Gully to beyond the toe of the Nose buttress and find a nice camp here amidst the poison ivy. There is a fire ring here but fires are technically illegal. Bring iodine tablets and fill all your water bottles from the river. Strategies vary, so depending on the hour, your motivation, and the general tao of the moment, fix pitches and camp here, or simply embark on your journey.
P1-P5: Locate the line with the most bushes. This leads to a large obvious left-facing corner system. There are several anchors along the way on the initial pitches, so depending on your rope length consider stretching it out. Haul on the right wall. The hauling is hell early on, so the second should be available to unstick the bags. The climbing gets better fast, and after a choss section of 5.10 (or C2), includes some nice 5.10 wide crack climbing (easily aided) and a beauty of a 5.9 hand crack (P5). A poor bivy stance exists between the wide crack and hand crack pitches.
P6: Head left under a roof, then hook your way up the blank wall past several bolts to a roof with gear to lower off, and pendulum left into a right-facing corner leading to Fantasy Island.
P7: Climb a L-facing corner system to a belay on a flake (a quick, relatively easy lead). If you arrive early at Fantasy Island it may behoove you to fix this pitch to get a jump on the next days climbing.
P8: A short stretch of sketch (most people will free climb this short section) leads to a beautiful L-facing dihedral. The A3+ rating (a few fixed heads, some rattle-gear) is sometimes annotated with a "5.11" free climbing rating, but no way does this go as a 5.11 lead. Belay at a cluster of bolts.
P9-P10: More hooking and the like lead up into a vast blank "out-there" section of wall. Very enjoyable climbing, some bolts, some route-finding issues (issues, issues, issues), but pretty much every time you're in doubt a little Braille search above will locate a bomber hook placements. These are the original crux pitches of the route.
P11: The cactus pitch, with perhaps a pin placement or 2, some loose blocks, and a traverse straight right at the top to reach Happy Trails bivy. The start of this pitch is a bit spooky, runout on choss 5.9, but by now being spooked is feeling normal, so proceed with aplomb. There is a bomber bolt to hang a ledge off at Happy Trails, great views below, an imposing wall above, and the ubiquitous but faint bivy odor of eau-de-climber.
P12: Head off right from the bivy, up some fixed heads to a traverse right (awkward gear placements), and the notorious headwall- a very steep, exposed section of memorable climbing graced with some pretty funky fixed stuff. Belay at a cramped spot below a huge roof.
P13: Again, right and up from the belay, past an overhanging corner, some rivets, and a line of bolts. This pitch eases off the higher you go, which is a nice feeling.
P14: Climb through some blocky pegmatite, up and left to some awkward and slightly strenuous stuff, and belay at a bulge (this is where the free version of the Diagonal meets the route). Although pin placements are suggested for this pitch, with not much trickery it is easily climbed clean.
P15-P16: Enjoy the chossy 5.8 chimney munge above; you deserve it. Find the line of least resistance from the terrace to the rim. Fix the haul line, leave the haulbag (and your partner) hanging, and dash to the car for that cooler of beer. Drink heartily, then return (with at least one cold one for your partner) to your final task of hauling the bag.