Type: Trad, Aid, 350 ft, 6 pitches
FA: Kyle Copeland and Marc Hirt, 1981
Page Views: 6,457 total · 31/month
Shared By: Leo Paik on Dec 31, 2001
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route

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China Doll IV 5.9 A3+ (nearly C3+)

The exact details of the FA are unknown to me, but I believe this line is as described below based upon the fixed equipment on the route and the information from Rossiter's Dream Canyon/Boulder Canyon guide. This is an obscure but compelling aid line up the middle of Lost Angel. It follows the prominent, right-arching dihedral. Apparently attempts have been made to free some, if not all, of this route. Bring at least a gallon of water if done in the summer. It comes into the sun about 1pm.

Likely this route will go clean. We were only 2 pins away.

IF YOU DON'T WANT BETA, PLEASE READ NO FURTHER. Otherwise, here's the poop:

P1. There are probably at least 3 possible starts for the first pitch. You can follow the most direct line up the first pitch of Earth Voyage past 5 bolts to a 2 bolt anchor. This requires a brief bit of 5.9 climbing to the 1st bolt, then a cam or two and a hook move about mid pitch, and high-stepping the bolts to reach a small ledge. Alternatively, you can do a bit of free climbing with the 1st pitch of Archangel 5.9 past 3 bolts to a 2 bolt anchor just R of Earth Voyage's 1st anchor. Finally, a line of more traditional features lies between these starts and can finish on either anchor, C2. 50 feet.

P2. This pitch can be combined with P1. Start up the prominent R-facing dihedral reminiscent of Yosemite. Use a tenuous hook move early and then small cams to .33 Alien, Lowe balls, fixed bashies, a fixed pin, modern bolts, stoppers/RP to gain the modern, Fixe, 2-bolt anchor with ring plus old 1/4" bolt anchor at a semi-hanging belay. This is a pretty pitch,. C2+, 50 feet. There is a possible cam hook placement attempted that blew about 1/3 the way up this pitch.

P3. This pitch continues up the same dihedral sans modern bolts. The crack in the dihedral widens a bit. We used a #3 and #4 Camalot to start; however, a wider cam (#4.5) might fill the crack tighter. Then smaller to mid size cams, Lowe ball(s), a bashie, a hook move around an awkward bit leads you to where Rock Odyssey crosses the route out a roof. Here we used a knifeblade just before the buttonhead and Star-driven 1/4" bolt with single-biner-hole-Leeper hanger semi-hanging belay, A2+, nearly C2+, 80 feet.

P4. This is where the route gets significantly more funky and feels like a traverse. The roof overhangs the dihedral significantly here and keeps the rock from getting cleaned. The slab below the dihedral sheds exfoliative flakes. The rock in the corner has a much wilder feel to it. High-step up off the belay (gotta trust those tiny bits of metal) to a #0.5 Camalot placement, then sigh a bit at a medium wire placement. At that point, there is a flare that blew a #1 Friend placement and prompted us to utilize a LA in crumbly rock. Aid masters may find obvious clean placements that escaped us. Then, utilize the roof crack with a #1 Camalot and then a smaller cam. Then tie off the fixed partially driven LA. Hook here to gain small cam placements. Then move right with 3 cams on top of a large rounded flake. Here, excavation of 4 hook placements yielded tenuous edges at the crux here. It may be possible to free climb here for those desiring the switch. A few more cam placements bring you to a cramped, pigeon-like belay with 2 good #3 Camalot placements. Wires and other cams may reinforce this belay, A3+ (nearly C3+), 70 feet.

P5. You see the exit here just before the guano! The dihedral here traverses to a roof crack. Use cams, a possible red tricam, wires, and a fixed Leeper Z pin to gain the lip. A 0.5 Camalot placement just past the roof gives you a view of the modern, Fixe, 2-bolt anchor with rings 9 feet past the lip. This is an awkward semi-hanging belay stance. You can rappel to a modern, Fixe, 2-bolt anchor with ring anchor (2nd belay of Rock Odyssey) and rappel again to the ground, C2+, 60 feet.

P6. An optional pitch from here goes up moderate free ground to the top.

All in all, this takes a longer day than you would guess from below. Cleaning P4 and P5 is taxing.


Double small cams down to 0.33 Alien, triple middle size cams to #2 Camalot, double #3 Camalots, 1- #4 Camalot, 1 set of wires, a few Lowe-balls, a few bigger RPs, 1 LA, 1 knifeblade, 1 48"+ sling to lower out, 2 tie-off slings, hooks, possible tricams (red & black), perhaps some offset wires. 2 ropes useful to rappel off.


Please note that this route was climbed in 1981 and named likely at that time. The name here is documentation of history. In climbing, it would be entirely inappropriate for climbers to rename routes or crags. The first ascentionists may not even be alive today. We understand that some people may take extreme offense to the name here. Note, that at one point, the name used here was for prized ceramic dolls that young American girls cherished. If you take offense to the name, please accept our apologies, it is history.

Click here (disambiguation) for a glimpse of insight.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, DO NOT NAIL THE SECOND PITCH. It is a free climb and has been climbed without the bolts by Adam Stack. Please don't ruin this 5.13b/c free pitch. If you don't have the ability to climb it on clean aid bring a stick clip. Thanx. Jul 22, 2002
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
So are you saying that Adam Stack didn't clip the bolts, or that he free climbed this pitch prior to the bolts being added? Just curious! Jul 29, 2002
Adam Stack led this without clipping the bolts-the first clean ascent-this past spring. Jul 29, 2002
Y'all need to get the route comments changed as soon as possible! If it doesn't go C3 5.9 then it should be marked 5.13a-d. Hmmmm maybe take it up with Leo. Jul 29, 2002
J. Thompson
denver, co
J. Thompson   denver, co
Wow! nice job, Adam! I would like to point out that the upper pitches have not gone free or clean (aid) and that's why the China Doll route is not rated purely as a free climb. This sounds like a great challenge for Adam and any other strong climbers to attempt. Further more, as demonstrated by the ascent of the first pitch sans bolts, I would like to please ask anyone attempting it to NOT ADD any more bolts to this climb. This route could be a long, hard, TRAD test piece. (Well, except for the bolts on the first pitch!) Aug 10, 2002
What's the deal I know Adam Stack did this climb without clipping any bolts but was it and is it a 13b/c sport climb with bolts or did he just climb (which pitch P1/2?) the clean aid route free, there seems to be some confusion, the ad in Rock and Ice says he ignored the bolts??? Thanks for an info, awesome send, Adam, one of the best this year. Aug 14, 2002
Thanks for the info. Aug 14, 2002
First claimed P2 as a free lead by Bob Horan at .12d. early 90s. Claim contested by many. Later freed by Alan Lester, with the use of a glued-on foothold, at .13b/c. Origins of foothold unknown. Mr. Lester used bolts placed by Mr. Horan to protect it. Mr. Stack placed gear, using a fixed pin, avoided the bolts. Unknown status of use of the glued-on foothold by Mr. Stack.

All of the above is unverified spray. Sources many. Aug 20, 2002
With reference to Bob Horan's free ascent of China Dolls second pitch, I was there filming him making the first free ascent and had been there several other times over the years as he tried to free this awesome pitch. His final rating was 5.13c/d. not 5.12d. He began working on this crack climb in the later eighties, attempting to free it with natural gear save for the fixed pins from the aid ascent. He got pretty darn far and was able to put all the moves together but never as a whole flawless ascent. He told me that the gear was to scary and that he feared a desperate fall at the top. He gave up and then returned years later, after bolting several of the walls longer routes such as Earth Voyage, Rock Odyssey, etc. He then began to top rope the pitch and over several return visits, wired the route making easy ascents of the pitch in repetition. He then decided to bolt the pitch and go for the lead with bolts. It took him only a few tries to complete the lead. He really thought by that time that it was really not to bad. He left it at that. Alan Lester worked it out at a much later time and completed the lead with the bolts after only a few days of attempting it, I believe he rated it 5.13b. Anyways as usual someone once again tries to push Horan out of the lime light of his accomplishments. Sorry boys, but that's just the way Jan 18, 2003
Fakeville, USA
Tortilla   Fakeville, USA
Went clean on 4-16-05 (and probably earlier by someone else). Mellow C3. Apr 18, 2005
Jason Kaplan
Glenwood ,Co
  5.9 C2 PG13
Jason Kaplan   Glenwood ,Co
  5.9 C2 PG13
Link P 1-3 and stop at the bolts I posted a picture of. If you manage your rope well you can most likely link 4-5, I did it today but I was solo.

This route is a lot more than I expected, first time we blew the approach and climbed to the top of "P2" before I just lowered my partner back down due to time issues (started @2:30 reached the belay at 4:30). Second time I went with another less experienced aid climber and I made him skip most the bolts on "P2", took him 6 hours to get 100 ft (7:30-1:30). I lead "P3" and stopped at the good bolts as my partner wanted to come up. Before he got to my last piece it was 4:45 so once he got the last one out I lowered him to the ground (it's getting dark around 6-6:30 now).

I was sick of the non-sense and went back today alone, rapped in to the good bolts atop "P3" and then solo aided the crux ("P4") then continued to link "P5". The climbing wasn't that bad although it was a bit spicy at times, the gear is pretty solid if you trust the rock it's in (scream aids ease the mind a bit).

The hooking was with the big grappling hook and the talon mostly (I did hand place a #1 pecker on P1 cleaning the second time around), the edges are a bit fragile, so pick your placements well, I ripped one out by hand. Looks like others have ripped a bit off too. I didn't have to do more then 2 back to back hook moves. Instead of trying to hook decaying edges, I went for some shit cam placements most of which were hybrid Aliens until I could step off onto the loose-ish ledge/bulge just before you see the #3 cam placements for the belay.... I was surprised by this as when I went through that section the rock sounded pretty hollow. I didn't want to stop and rap then clean from there and then lead on a hollow belay so I just kept going up P5. P5's pretty straightforward till you realize you must use the death block at the lip. I was sure nervous about it but it held, got a hook on the big edge at the lip and then a hybrid Alien above that and it was still really hard to get to the next placement (tipped out blue Alien, blue/green hybrid might have been better but I was tired and it worked) to reach the bolts. Two ropes get you to the ground from the bolts atop "P5".

You could probably just about get away with a single rack of RPs and nuts, doubles in the blue and green Aliens, the yellow and red size (TCUs were nice in that size) maybe singles above that size up to a #5. A full set of hybrid Aliens (I had 1 set up to a yellow/red) or 2 would make life a bit easier they seemed to be the MVP on my rack. I used 1 screamer and 2 scream aids(breaking point @1.5Kn vs. 2.0 Kn) I was happy to have them. I threw one on a bomber #1 as it was in a big flake (didn't sound hollow but it was a big block) and I didn't want to bring it down with/on me. Used the other to tie off the partially driven LA below.

Hopefully this info helps future parties to get it in a single push bottom to top. Go early.

P.S. Please re-locate the free climbing talk, there is a separate page for that now so let's keep it strictly aid here as really it's just an aid route as the whole thing hasn't been freed and most of us don't climb 5.13 anyway. Oct 12, 2008
Jason Kaplan
Glenwood ,Co
  5.9 C2 PG13
Jason Kaplan   Glenwood ,Co
  5.9 C2 PG13
I may have to go back and do it again to verify/ justify my down grading, but after seeing someone else suggest it....

After this route, I climbed Zenyetta Entrada and Artist Tears which were both rated C3, both seemed a step up. ZE has been regaurded as C2+, and Artist Tears is still reguarded as being C3 if not on the verge of 3+. Considering that, it seems appropriate that this should be in the C2 range. If it were sandstone, however.... Jun 14, 2010
Greg Miller
  5.9 C2
Greg Miller  
  5.9 C2
This route goes clean no problem, Bring your hooks, RPs, offset cams, and slider nuts and you'll be fine. Pitch 3, 4, 6 I was out of the aiders a good bit free climbing sections. Combine p1-3 and 5-6. Great adventure close to home! Solo 7hrs car to car. 5.9 C2. Feb 17, 2014
Omaha, NE (at the moment)
trisgo   Omaha, NE (at the moment)
A friend and I were looking to practice some big wall skills and were thinking about practicing on this route. Do you think anyone would have a problem if we set up a ledge at the top of pitch 2 and practiced a few things on the upper pitches (mid-week)? If not, how long is the approach, what is the descent like, and will we have a problem leaving our car in the parking lot overnight? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Feb 6, 2016
P. W.
  5.9 C3
P. W.  
  5.9 C3
The crux of China Doll was my first A3/C3 lead. The last moves to the pitch 4 anchor involve multiple linked hooking moves using the talon on some VERY micro edges (<1/4"). I decided hooking felt more secure than the shit gear that Jason describes above. Pucker factor was high, but the pro was good and any fall would have been clean.

Every pitch but the crux was cruiser; great clean pro, we did the whole thing with one set of offset nuts, 2 sets of stoppers, one set of tricams, and a triple rack of cams from a Camalot 0.1 to a #2 with 2 #3s and 1 #4. The crux takes lots of small gear so be ready.

P5 was probably only 30' long. Aid the roof, gain the lip, and you are at the anchors.

We finished P5 as it was getting dark and did a double-rope rap to the ground. Great day, but it took WAY longer than we thought. Jun 6, 2016