Type: Trad, 170 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Pat Callis & Larry Reynolds, June 1967, FFA: Tony Yaniro, 1978
Page Views: 18,931 total · 118/month
Shared By: C Miller on Jan 27, 2006
Admins: C Miller, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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This striking thin crack testpiece up a smooth 85 degree slab was originally done as an aid climb and just over a decade later freed, in 1978, by a 16 year old Tony Yaniro (wearing EB's) who went on to climb the Grand Illusion near Lake Tahoe the following year. The climb saw no repeats until sticky rubber-soled Fire's hit the U.S. market around 1982.

Even in this era of big numbers this still is a challenging route that seldom sees a free ascent, especially on lead. Equinox at nearby Joshua Tree, while rated only slightly easier, is a much easier tick.

P1) A combination of tip jams and face moves down low gain the security of a knob, conveniently located next to the crack, above which the difficulty eases (5.11) and the crack opens up to accept better locks. Near the top of the first pitch traverse slightly right to a bolted belay; thin fingers or a lack of feeling in your fingers is a plus on this pitch. P2) Back left into the crack and up the moderate (5.9) crack to the top. It's also possible to do this all in one pitch if so inclined. Belay atop Double Exposure and then descend the backside.

The first pitch is often popular to practice clean aid (C2) and is often attempted on toprope by climbing The Buccaneer to access the anchors.


Just right of Double Exposure's sharp arete.


pro to 2" (include many thin nuts), bolted anchors
Soloed by Michael Reardon May 25, 2007
An incredible route with amazing climbing. Hard and insecure. This is one I'll be going back to work on. Continuous, hard movement for the first 40 feet of climbing with a nearly indistinguishable crux somewhere around the black knob. Oct 22, 2007
Bruce Diffenbaugh
Bruce Diffenbaugh   Cheyenne,Wyoming
After Yaniro's FFA this route was rarely lead for years. Fact is I never have seen it done. A for sure hardman route. Very thin!!! A trophy tick. Feb 7, 2008
skinny legs and all
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
skinny legs and all   Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Johny Woodward is climbing The Pirate on the cover of Climbing magazine #104. Like Adam Stackhouse said, Michael Reardon free soloed this on July 12, 2006. Reardon reported that the first crux is in Zone 2-an ankle breaker, and the second crux is Zone 3-a trip to the morgue for sure. He also said that when he first tried the route a few years before his solo, the bottom crux was impossible, but later he never had a problem. Michael trained for this solo both physically and mentally. On the solo, it is not possible to traverse right (5.9) to the belay at the end of the first pitch. Being ropeless, Reardon had to push straight up on 5.11b climbing and skip the 5.9 traverse to the belay. Feb 7, 2014
Kristian Solem
Monrovia, CA
Kristian Solem   Monrovia, CA
It's interesting reading about various climber's experiences on this route. I had to work hard to get it. For starters it never occurred to me that I might lead it, so when the TR was available one day I got on it. I did well and got the bug. Of course by the strictest standards this tainted my ascent. Since I was a cocky a-hole and held everyone else I knew to those same exacting standards I must contritely admit to this unintentional but factual weakness :-)

Leading it took at least four quality attempts in good conditions. I went over there a couple times on hot days when I shouldn't have and got smoked. When I sent it I had the rack sorted so there was no mucking with the gear other than to place it which is easy enough. It protects really well.

Getting up on the black knob must be the crux, but for some reason that's not where I would fall off. I would peel in the section between that knob and where it finally goes to fingers. So my opinion is that that next 15 feet above the knob is 5.12.

Michael's solo ascent blew my mind. I heard that Yaniro used to boulder up to the knob and then back down. But to be up on the knob in relative security and decide to finish it is the definition of confidence and it's close relative: boldness.

Some good climbers have derided the climb as a pin scarred mess. I also haven't seen them try it. I've yet to meet a climber who has the chops to do that rig who doesn't want it. Aug 16, 2017
RobertDSmith Smith
Tonapa, Hidalgo, MX
RobertDSmith Smith   Tonapa, Hidalgo, MX
Aid practice on the first pitch. It is very thin, o/oo, cams half inch or smaller nad many small and micro brass offsets. May 27, 2018
Alex Barlow
San Diego
Alex Barlow   San Diego
This was considered the ante if you wanted to do AID.
If you can lead the pirate in less than one hour you can have a go at so.e of the Yosemite trade routes. Aug 10, 2018
Trad Princess
Not That Into Climbing
Trad Princess   Not That Into Climbing
"This was considered the ante if you wanted to do AID.
If you can lead the pirate in less than one hour you can have a go at so.e of the Yosemite trade routes."

That's funny. I lead this in around 40 minutes - first time strapping on the ladders. Aug 14, 2018
Thomas Claiborne
North County of SD or Idyll…
Thomas Claiborne   North County of SD or Idyll…
Has this route ever seen an onsight/flash? Talking around, it sounds like Woodward got damn near close. Any old-timers wanna give me the skinny :-P Jan 16, 2019
Who knows if there's been an onsight/flash. None that I know of, but - that doesn't mean much without sitting around at the base 24/7 since there are plenty of people who could do it who might never say anything about it. The old tree in the forest question: if you didn't hear about it, did it happen? Ha. If I had to guess I'd say there might be some.

Woodward was close. He tried it on a humid (far from optimal) afternoon and made it onto the knob. However he felt it was so greasy that he decided he wanted to come back another day. He downclimbed (removing gear) and unfortunately popped off just above the ground. He came back one week later in cooler weather and did the entire thing with no problem. Had he not popped downclimbing (and almost back to the ground at that) he may have returned and done it without any falls, who can say. However, there are probably some who would say his up/down, even without a fall, would have invalidated an "onsight" because he had "previewed" for himself by going to the knob - even though he had zero outside beta nor had he watched anyone on it prior.

Bottom line, he fell so it's all moot after that. I personally think downclimbing is a legit skill and is a valid tool when onsighting. The somewhat interesting question is whether it ruins an onsight if one cleanly downclimbs back to the ground while removing all gear (downleading) and then succeeds on the next attempt. Is that a previewed ascent because some moves might be known/easier the second time? Inquiring minds need to know.

JW should have waited for a cooler day but he was antsy. Having belayed him both times I think he would have done it "pure" onsight if it wasn't so humid the first day.

Old-timers? Jan 16, 2019
Haha, someone says old-timer and Darrell's
ears start to buzz. Come on Darrell, you r no old-timer, I see you crushing 12s regularly! Jan 17, 2019