Type: Trad, 300 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Pat Callis & Larry Reynolds, April 1966
Page Views: 3,379 total · 21/month
Shared By: C Miller on Jan 19, 2006
Admins: C Miller, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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This was the first climb established on the Weeping Wall and was so named because the first ascent party got a "surprise" when the blank-looking face went at such a moderate grade. A good introduction to the wall although most parties elect to do the direct finish in lieu of the somewhat loose original third pitch.

P1) Start in the middle of the wall and climb a short right-facing corner system (thin pro), then continue up and left on unprotected but very easy face (5.0) to a 3 bolt anchor. P2) Up and right along a ramp/flake system to reach a bolt (5.8) and then into an easy right-facing corner atop which is a 3 bolt belay. P3) Up a crack which turns into a flared chimney higher. Belay from gear at the top and descend via Bye Gully.


bolts, gear to 3"


Shawn Mitchell
Shawn Mitchell   Broomfield
I remembered from boyhood this climb was runout, but I didn't remember how runout. After the 20 foot p.1 crack, you go all the (easy) way to the belay. But the shockers was crux p.2. After the short traverse to the one bolt--and not so modern a bolt--you do the crux, then go the rest of the way, with a bit of 5.6 at the top, to the belay.

Easy stuff, but you better be comfortable on friction WAY out from gear. Jul 18, 2009
Like nearly everything else on the Weeping Wall this route is all about the correct foot sequence. The runout section makes one reconsider those sequences with a little more forethought and rehearsal.Great warm-up for 10K Gold.Taken together these two runouts make for a great day of face climbing. Oct 26, 2010
Carlsbad CA
RAZORsharp   Carlsbad CA
This is a fun climb. P1 5.0 runout has a bolt smack dab in the middle, for anyone who wants to clip it.. leave it unclipped for the full experience ;). On P3 I opted to skip the flared chimney and use the right thin flake. Some parts are hollow, loose, and BIG, however it eats gear and finishes just well. Apr 23, 2012
Jim Dover
Idyllwild, CA
Jim Dover   Idyllwild, CA
On pitches 2 and 3 I found pin scars that accept a #2 Offset Mastercam. Higher up on pitch 3--if you stay out of the gulley and do the right crack--some smaller gear works well--0.4s, 0.5s and 0.75s mostly. There are few places for larger stuff but the climbing is really positive so running it out isn't that scary.

Oh, and saw a big ass black rattler in the bushes at the base today. Yikes!!! Jul 12, 2012
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.8 R
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  5.8 R
Gee...and I thought the climb was named for the "Surprise" move you find off of the big rest step after doing the 5.8 sequence on the old bolt. Maybe it's "only" 5.6 or 5.7, but it was certainly the crux for me.
I did this 2 yrs ago, and even then the (original?) bolt was pretty "manky", even if it is 3/8". It should be replaced. Aug 26, 2014
I linked 1 and 2 with a 70m no problem. Only the one distinct crux on P2 was 5.8. Oct 28, 2014
Led this when I was 16 (fall, '71) for my first 5.8 on the sharp end. Those klettershoes edged that crystal dike like mad, but the friction was a bit lacking. I give this all the stars for its historic importance, climbing aesthetic and short crux sequence.

When you are a 5.6 climber, Surprise is an excellent gateway into the next level of slab climbing...as long as you can ignore the monster ground fall presented by the very easy first pitch.

The Weeping Wall can be thought of as one wing of Climbing College, offering "Slab Climbing 101, 102, 103." Like a progressively demanding series class, by following an ascent of "Surprise", 5.8, with leads on "Serpentine", 5.9, and "Revelation", 5.10a, one will acquire the essential skills for climbing slabs:

Butt out,"Stink Bug" style body position
don't over-reach, keep those hands local
lock ankles,
isolate body parts, freeze all but the one in motion
drop the ankle if you get "Elvis Tremors",
Chalk bag in the front,
quite/precision feet,
do not "kick start the Harley" just place the feet and stand,
if you start to slip, straighten the elbows,

treat the feet like buckets of sand, and when you hit an edge, then pour a
all the sand (weight) into that bucket (bootie)....

...That sort of behavior stuff that becomes habit only with lots of vertical on slab...

Indeed, my first 5.9 lead was Serpentine...and I'll always be thankful for the gifts this wall has to offer any climber, but especially the Newbie lead climber. Apr 10, 2015
David Accomazzo
Phoenix, AZ
David Accomazzo   Phoenix, AZ
My dad and I climbed this route yesterday, and he mentioned that in the '70s he and Mike Graham somehow led this route without using their hands.

If anyone has repeated a hands-free ascent of this, I'd like to know, because that sounds fucking insane to me. Sep 14, 2018
Trad Princess
Not That Into Climbing
Trad Princess   Not That Into Climbing
David, I'm sure they could climb it with no hands. I climbed it in vasque approach shoes with crap-rubber, and I'm basically the corn in your dad's poop when it comes to climbing ability. If you're a really good slab climber, probably no sweat. Sep 17, 2018