Type: Trad, 4 pitches Fixed Hardware (1)
FA: Bob Culp and George Hurley, 1965, FFA: Jim Erickson, 1975
Page Views: 4,010 total · 19/month
Shared By: Tony B on Feb 15, 2002
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

13 Opinions

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This route is a forgotten classic. After getting on it for the first time, I had to do it again, and SOON.

After a junky first pitch, the climb shows 3-4 beautiful pitches on great stone, each with their own character. Tiger Balm Arete climbs the solid left-side arete of the Shirt Tail Peak, just left of the climb Gambit .

Pitch 1: On the prow of the huge arete on Shirt-tail climb the obvious off-width system or junky, bush-choked cracks to the left (either is 5.8) to reach a big in-cut ledge system with a 7' tall pine tree and good hand-crack above. Don't belay at this tree- keep going through P2. It would also be just as well to do the first pitch of Gambit to the large belay tree and go up and left on the big shelf the first pitch belay of Tiger Balm Arete.

Pitch 2: This is the first good pitch. From the belay-tree pull up and left into the thin-hands crack. The hard part will be getting past the tree and into the crack off of the deck. Climb 45-50' of hand jams and perfect jugs to a final 6' of finger-crack (right) or wide hands crack (left) to finish on the next incut ledge. This pitch protects well with a few cams 1.5" to 3". If this pitch were longer it would be a classic in and of it's own merit, and there would be lines of climber cued up to do it. Worthy! Belay on the large ledge system above this crack.

Pitch 3: This is the crux pitch. Pull up off of the ledge system to a good, fat bolt on secure holds. Clip the bolt and twist through the big crux move. I found this to be much more technical then powerful. This long move (5.11b) would be extremely difficult without the right body position. Above the crux move there are good holds, but the wall is steep and does not give good rest. Move up and right (5.10a) from the in-cuts to a large horizontal (you can place #4.5- #5 camalots in this broken groove) and then up to a small crack in a right-facing feature (5.9). Load this with RP's or small nuts and a ball-nut before continuing up (5.8) and onto the slab above (5.7). The slab protects occasionally and should be considered S, but if you get that far, I don't think you will be falling at that point. Continue up the slabby face past a small ledge (5.4) to the next incut ledge and belay from the large pine tree with fixed anchors (100').

Pitch 4: There are a few options, but the best two both start by climbing straight up above through the finger-crack with 2 big jugs, a fun and physical start. After 30' the route splits Option 4a: Climb up the easy, well protected, left-facing corner and hand traverse (5.9) out the roof to reach the arete. This will create drag if you were hoping to shoot for the summit from the last belay. Option 4b: Climb up the dark arete up and two your right for 35 feet. This will leave the rope free of drag, and if you have a 60m rope (a 50m MIGHT work), you can run for the summit. This is 5.8- and has no protection at all. A fall would be a career-ender, but the moves are secure and relatively easy. All finish: Continue up the sharp prow of the arete, protecting when ever pro becomes available, as it may not again soon. Since there are no really good belays on the arete, fire for the spectacular summit of Shirt Tail Peak for a belay. The final 35 meter arete is comparable to the summit pitch of The Yellow Spur. However, the pitch is a little more vertical, a little more protectable, and in my opinion, a little better.

What a fabulous route!


The crux is bolted. After the crux the climb is mostly small wires and a small ballnut, but take a standard rack of cams to proect the rest.

If you think you will be afraid of a 15' ledge fall from the 5.9 moves, a #4.5 and #5 Camalot can be placed in a broken horizontal for protection just above the crux bolt.

Rossiter gives this climb a VS, but I don't agree with the rating. Several good nuts can be placed along the way and the only real runouts are rated 5.7.