Type: Trad, Alpine, 850 ft (258 m), 5 pitches, Grade III
FA: Topher Donahue & Patience Gribble, 1999
Page Views: 6,678 total · 29/month
Shared By: Roy Leggett on Jun 29, 2005
Admins: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

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Description Suggest change

This is a great, exciting route that wanders up the left side of the Saber (Petit Side). If you want to keep the route adventurous (mores so [than] it already is), DO NOT READ FURTHER, just follow [Bernard's] guidebook.

The route description in Bernard Gillett's guide is a bit inaccurate and vague. I was confused by the pitch lengths he gave and the description of some of the pitches.

Also note: The R rating not only applies to the runouts. This route is plagued with lots of lichen, flaky rock and numerous death blocks. It is still a great route though (it resembled a Black Canyon route).

The Pocketknife Does not see sun until nearly 12 noon and it was a bit chilly until then (late June). To begin the route, find the low fifth class ramp that angles up and left (just above the chockstones in the South-east gully). This is the same start for the other Saber routes.

P1: Simul-climb for 350 ft (up to 5.6) up to the second ramp system where the wall steepens. Head to the far left side of this ramp to an obvious right facing dihedral. Establish your belay at the base of the dihedral on nice ledge, ten feet below an older angle piton.

P2 (10b R)-[Bernard's] guide calls this a 230 ft pitch, but is only about 180 ft: Head up the dihedral heading for the obvious chimney which is the pocketknife flake. Follow the finger and tight hand crack to terminus. Wander up and slightly left, using thin edges and incipient cracks while finding obscure gear placements along the way. Head up the Hands to offwidth to chimney crack (5.7/5.8), placing smaller gear to the right of the crack if you so desire. Mount the pocketknife flake and choose from two thin cracks to set an anchor. This is a fun ledge to belay from and this pitch is awesome.

P3 (9 R)-This is a very short pitch 70ft. [Bernard's] guide implies climbing through an overhang, but the overhang is very insignificant and could be confused with the crux overhang, causing some problems: From the right side of the belay ledge head up finger crack. After 20 feet or so, begin to work your way to the left via the path of least resistance, aiming for the obvious corner below the larger roof. Establish your belay here, 20 feet below this roof in a corner with a good pin in it. This pitch has some death blocks on it and you should test all your holds and DO NOT place gear behind them.

P4 (11a, 5.10 R): From the belay, head slightly up and left on "the [can opener]" flake. This flake is waiting to go, tread lightly and do not place gear behind it. I did however place a nut down low on the flake (where it seemed a bit more solid) just because otherwise you will be pulling 9+/10- moves on flaky rock, 20 feet above a pin which is part of your belay anchor. Undercling the roof and head out its middle via a nice off fingers to hands crack. Above the roof is exciting face climbing, random gear on lichen covered rock. Head toward the obvious splitter hand crack on the left side of the dihedral. Continue up the dihedral, turn a roof on the right and head further up the dihedral to a small belay ledge with tedious gear for the anchor.

P5 (9+): Again, [Bernard's] description is a bit vague here: We simply headed up to the right (not the left) of the black roof. Above the roof, take the path of least resistance to the summit ridge.

Descent: Head further up the summit ridge, to the right side before the 1st notch, and find a sling around a block. Descend via 4, full 200ft, rappels down the East Face into the Saber/Foil gully.

Protection Suggest change

A single set of cams to #2 Camalot (a #3 is not necessary, but can be used). Double up on the finger sizes (Purple TCU to Green Camalot). A set of Nuts. A single set of RP's. I also brought a pink and brown Tri-cam and found them useful. 12-14 runners.