Type: Trad, 1300 ft, 10 pitches, Grade III
FA: Stewart Green, Dennis Jackson and Major Tom Lumen, 1980
Page Views: 4,721 total · 23/month
Shared By: Vince Anderson on May 9, 2003
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac

You & This Route


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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details
Access Issue: 2019 July South Casm View Wall closure lifted. Prior: Rockfall potential closes some routes! Details

Description

Ground Control to Major Tom is a good route for the grade considering its length. It climbs generally good rock and has superb views of the North Chasm View Wall. The climbing is serious in places and the route finding is difficult. Not for novices.

Approach the climb by climbing down the Chillum Stone gully and rappelling over the Chillum Stone (~140'). From the base of the rappels head down a short ways and left across a grassy ledge towards its end (boulders). This is where this route and the Cimmaron Slabs begin. Locate the route by finding a short, right leaning crack off the ground. Above this should be a larger, right leaning crack/overlap system. You should also notice a large Ponderosa tree leaning away from the top of the cliff far above near the culmination of the bottom part of the route.

Once you have located the route start up the crack. You will arrive at some grassy ledges before the larger crack system and can belay here if you do not have a long rope. Continue up into the overlap and follow it out to its terminus. This pitch can be strenuous 5.7. Turn the end through some bushes to a nice ledge with a not so nice belay. There is a rock with some old rap slings to use, but it is off to the left side of the ledge and is not in an ideal place to arrange a belay. You will figure something out.

The next pitch wanders out right from the ledge following an incipient seam. There is sparse pro at the start (5.6), but once into the next crack/overlap system there is plenty. Continue to a ledge and go further right to climb up an onto a large rock plaque that seems to just be sitting on the wall. Careful as you climb up and around this. You will rejoin the corner to your left as you step off of the plaque. There is little pro in this section and is about 5.6. At the top of that corner is another good ledge with a great rock to belay off of on its left hand side.

Pitch three now takes you back left, traversing across the blank slab, following the path of least resistance until you reach the large, right facing corner on the opposite side of the slab. This is a run out pitch. You can fiddle in a TCU at the start, but there really is no gear across much of it for 40 or 50 feet. You will reach a small breach just 15' from the corner and safety. Here you can get some gear and then you must make a commiting (5.7) friction move up onto the final slab. Once on it you easily move into the corner and belay.

Pitch four heads up the obvious corner system above. The corner turns to the right and is a bit of an undercling/layback for a few moves. Once around this, continue laybacking up to the top of the corner and some ledges. This pitch feels like 5.7+ or so. Here you can belay or can continue up and left into another, easier corner to a bushy ledge below a nice looking pegmatite chimney.

The next pitch either goes up the chimney on the right (recommended) which has NO protection and is 5.6 or goes left into a dirty, mossy corner with some pro. Either way you end up on a ledge below the sweet pegmatite slab above. Head up the slab passing one bolt towards a corner system above. This is one of the best pitches on the route and is a three star pitch in its own right. It is no harder than 5.5 or 5.6, but is very run out. There is the one bolt (an old 1/4 incher) and then nothing else until you reach the safety of the corners and flakes above. There is 60' runouts before and above the bolt on this pitch. With judicious route finding, the holds just appear and are great. Very delicate, but worth the fright. Head up through the cornes to below a roof and move right to a ledge and single bolt (can be backed up w/ large cam) belay.

Pitch six heads left through cracks, flakes, and corners towards the large ponderosa pine that has been looming above. Go arond the tree and belay on the right side of the wall above. There can be a lot of rope drag on this pitch (5.6).

On the right side of this wall is a lichenous chimney that can be climbed (5.6) up to more ledges and eventually the top of the fin/pinacle. At the top right hand side of the fin is an old rap anchor that can be used to belay from. Don't rap from here. You will be sorry if you do. Instead, move the belay up and over the top of the pinacle to the notch between it and the headwall above. It is a 4th class down climb into the notch.

Most guides say "scramble to the top" from here, but the excitement is not over yet. Head up the obvious hand crack in the headwall (5.8) and climb up to some ledges below a large roof. Belay and continue up and right around the roof. Keep moving up and do a little bushwhacking until you are at the top of the next shoulder. This should take a few pitches.

Now follow the shoulder towards the rim and find the best option for getting up to it. I have found that the nice looking thin hands splitter on the left side is the best. It is perhaps harder than any of the climbing on the rest of the route (5.9) but it is nice and has great pro. Alternatively, go right up a tricky corner with bad pro (5.8). You can also do a big traverse right to much easier ground, but it is hardly worth going this way as it is a whole pitch of traversing.

Once on the rim of the "island", follow it to its opposite end, staying on the right side of the island. You should find a notch between this island and the next. Descend the gully to the notch (4th class). Now, bushwhack your way to the base of the next island. Climb up corners and chimneys slighly left of the notch to the top of this island #2 (5.4). Easily cross this island to where there is a notch between it and the true rim (road). 4th class down to the next notch and then climb 5 minutes back to the road. This "descent" is much better than the one recommended in Robbie Williams book, which is longer and involves much more bushwhacking.

Protection

Standard trad rack including one set of wires and cams up to 3.5"

Photos