Type: Trad, 490 ft, 3 pitches
FA: John Mendenhall and Harry Sutherland, September 1947 FFA: Royal Robbins and Don Wilson, 1952
Page Views: 46,268 total · 290/month
Shared By: Luke Stefurak on Feb 3, 2006 with updates from Sam Cannon and 1 other
Admins: C Miller, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

371 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick


This three pitch beauty ascends a very obvious dihedral.

1) The first few moves off the deck are exciting and lead to an enjoyable first belay in a little nook.

2) The second pitch contains the business. You layback a 4" crack for 60+ feet to gain a belay either inside a little cave or right after depending on what gear you have left.

3) Pull the roof out of the alcove if that's where you set your belay, and continue up the dihedral in the left-side crack, much less steep and quite a bit easier than pitches 1 and 2. Eventually cross the slab and continue up to climb the deceptively easy roof on the right side. Top out and hike to the top of Tahquitz on easy 3rd class. Then you can hike out.


Standard rack with a doubles in the 3" - 4" range. The crack gets too wide for an old # 4 (purple) camalot but you can easily run it a bit to a placement higher up.


Dpurf   Superior
FA - Royal Robins. The first 5.9 in the country, it a classic and must do. For the 2nd pitch there is a number of ways to get through it. The layback options, less secure and harder to place gear, not the options I would take. The next option is to stem it in the wide section then finish with your crack climbing skills. Or just grovel up the offwidth, it secure and is very short. Feb 9, 2006
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
I always thought that a move about halfway up P1 was the crux, a steep little sequence. Mar 12, 2006
Isaac T.
Oceanside, CA
Isaac T.   Oceanside, CA
I personally think that this route was harder than 5.9. Also do not climb this route unless you have big cams (think Size 4 BD)and at least 3-5 of them. This is based on Beta from other climbers since I did not get past the first pitch because of other climbers warning us to bail since we had 1 #3 BD cam. The rap off the first pitch was sketchy as well. The rap rings were hanging off a chock stone from webbing that has seen better days. It was a good route though, just come prepared and you will have fun.

UPDATE In response to Murf - In my defense on the decent back to the car I started coughing up blood, had some kind of weird lung infection that put me in the hospital the next morning. So that is why I probably rated it higher than most. 2nd - the gear beta was given to me by climbers below who had just completed the route.
However I do need to get back up there and give the route another go and I am sure I'd probably change the grade back to 5.9...

So for anyone coughing up blood with a weird lung infection this route will feel like 10a/b just FYI :) Nov 22, 2006
veedublr - you give it 3 stars and a rating of 5.9 when you didn't even do the crux pitch. You rate it 5.9 but you don't think it's 5.9?

You are lucky you bailed, if you need 3-5 cams in the #4 BD range for this route, you shouldn't attempt to climb it. Nov 22, 2006
Adam Stackhouse    
From a historical gear perspective, I went out and specifically bought one whopping 3.5 WC Friend. Kind of hysterical, in that I placed early during the second pitch, retrieved it and placed a bit further up, and then gave up on placing any more gear until the belay. With a total arm-bar near the top of this "run-out" pitch, I felt secure enough, especially considering the options. As recommended, two #4 Camalots would be perfect for this climb. Dec 19, 2006
Tim McCabe
Tucson, AZ
  5.9 PG13
Tim McCabe   Tucson, AZ
  5.9 PG13
The standard 5.9 that all other 5.9's are based on. The first pitch is a little hard to protect after that the gear is great. Standard rack plus one #4 BD Cam. Jan 2, 2007
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
As the datum 5.9 it can't be anything but 5.9 ;-)

Been a long time since I've done this but I didn't have a big friend or the BD copy. Sep 14, 2007
Scotty Nelson
Scotty Nelson   Boulder
This climb is the dictionary definition of 5.9! Jun 19, 2008
Brian Hench
Costa Mesa, CA
Brian Hench   Costa Mesa, CA
The notion that you need a bunch of #4 Camalots and larger to do this route is complete nonsense.

My rack consisted of a set of Clogs to #4 (same as friends) plus Green and Red Camalots, 2 Yellow Camalots, and one Blue Camalot. The only piece I wish I had more of was the Yellow.

Many of the places that are wide have small cracks nearby. Sometimes you can get a smaller placement by going deeper. The places that only take really large gear are easy and can be run out.

This route was very difficult for me, so you can't say I was running it out because it was easy. Jul 28, 2008
Adam Stackhouse    
Brian, gear recommendations are just that. Calling someone else's "complete nonsense" seems benighted at best. You did the route using what you thought was safe, and thats ok. But moreover, you said you employed the #4 Friend equivalent, which interestingly is a only touch smaller than a #4 Camalot. Jul 28, 2008
Scott Z
Highlands Ranch, CO
Scott Z   Highlands Ranch, CO
I now can go through my head of all of the other "5.9" routes I've done and see if they are true 5.9's or not. I can also give more respect to some of those climbs and revel in the fact that I have just completed a truly historical route. May 26, 2009
mtoensing   Boulder
Jam the crux, don't lieback. Way more fun!! Mar 26, 2010
DJ Reyes
Northern Nevada
DJ Reyes   Northern Nevada
Did this route today with Larry S. and loved it! Great route requiring a variety of techniques. I thought that the first pitch was the crux to be sure. The ten feet or so before I reached the flake were wild! Larry and I both jammed the second pitch and thought it was secure and casual. May 29, 2010
leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Did this today. Thought one #4 Camalot was plenty. A few burly moves on the first pitch, but the second felt more sustained. Climbed it a lb with jams for gear placements. Fun route. Jun 5, 2010
combine pitches 1 and 2 for quite possibly the best pitch in idyllwild... stellar i tell ya... you won't find a better 5.9 pitch anywhere... Aug 3, 2010
Cory Harelson
Boise, ID
Cory Harelson   Boise, ID
Awesome climb! The start had a little spice, but the rest was really well protected. I agree with Fossana that, while the first pitch may have had the crux move, the second was way more sustained.

With all that I've heard about this climb I was expecting it to be harder. As far as the grade, this actually did feel like 5.9. Not the softest 5.9, but not the stoutest either. Go figure. :)

I brought 2 #4s as recommended, and it was more than enough. I placed both of them on every pitch, but that was more because I didn't want to carry them than because they were necessary. I think it would have protected just fine with 1 number 4, as there always seemed to be other options. If anything, I'd say bring an extra #2. Sep 19, 2010
Robin like the bird
Philomath, or
Robin like the bird   Philomath, or
doing pitch one and two together sounds like a rope stretcher. can it be done with a 60 m?

climbing out left from the second belay, on to bookmark and then finishing traitor horn makes for a great variation to this route. Jan 29, 2011
finally lead this route, it is awesome,and requires almost all climbing techniques. two number fours if this is at your level will be appreciated unless a thirty footer is ok. also, one number three and three number twos. This will make it seem like a sport route but you can always skip a placement if you feel the need to run it out to feel cool. Better to have it and not place it than to not have it if you need it. May 16, 2011
Jim Dover
Idyllwild, CA
Jim Dover   Idyllwild, CA
I've been climbing for a year and only leading for a few months and this has been on my 'someday' list for a (relatively) long time. Showed up to the base today with my friend, Kurt, kind of expecting to maybe lead the 3rd pitch. Instead, I led the first pitch and ran it out half way through the second until running out of gear. Kurt led the now abbreviated 2nd pitch and I led the 3rd. Wow! Better and scarier and harder than I thought it would be.

As for gear--I really wish I had 6 #4 Camalots! But the 5.6 friction run-out was kind of cool!

I believe you could link pitch 1 and 2 with a 70 meter rope--maybe even a 60--with more judicious/sparse gear placement (I was really gripped a few times). Sep 28, 2011
This is absolute classic! Good belays, bomber gear in a striking dihedral. A must do.

On P2 I plugged a hex at the last good stance and laid it back to the alcove. There's one last rest stance before the top. I thought laying it back was by far the easiest way to do this.

DONT BELAY IN THE ALCOVE! Your rope will push the gear into the crack while you climb P3. It's been mentioned to traverse right after the alcove but I just pulled around the roof and set an excellent hanging belay.

P3 will still stick with you with a no hands traverse to the right and there are bolted anchors after you exit the final tight chimney. Oct 22, 2011
J Dowd
Idyllwild, Ca
J Dowd   Idyllwild, Ca
I was fortunate enough to be raised in Idyllwild. Of all the climbs in the area this one held our attention as we climbed it atleast twice a month for years. All the "hard" moves on p1 have the pro where you need it. Look for good stoppers on the left wall before the crux flake. Bomber!
As a side note.. Swinging to hard for the top of the flake has caused shoulder injuries. I once "dislocated" my shoulder while underclinging the flake! Popped it back in and finished the pitch.
It sucked! Feb 21, 2012
Rob Selter
running springs Ca
Rob Selter   running springs Ca
After climbing this I have a whole new found respect for those old guys in there tennis shoe that put up the FA on this sort of route. A must do climb!
As for gear doubles or even triples in the BD 3 is nice, and a 4 is a good thing to have. Apr 10, 2012
Ben Gordon
La Canada, CA
Ben Gordon   La Canada, CA
Definitely a classic climb. It combines all sorts of styles up a very distinct and interesting route. Definitely takes some wide gear as everyone else has been saying. Jun 13, 2012
The Ruin-er
The Ruin-er   CA
one of the funnest routes Ive done Jun 30, 2012
Irvine, CA
generationfourth   Irvine, CA
Completely amazing line. Rich in history and filled with unique features like the elephant ear on the first pitch– gaining it and standing upon it may give you slight flashbacks of Traitor Horn. The third pitch has a heroic 5.4 Roof (take that Gunks!) that leads to a slight squeeze chimney. Then out onto a heady slab with a few friction moves that will prepare you for Suicide. Pleasant belay stations: For the second pitch belay, clip a bong older than you and add a couple of pieces. Third pitch belay: After traversing out under a small roof (fun!) at the end of the second pitch you do a couple of lie back moves to gain a small obvious belay ledge. If you don't have extra hand sized pieces for the left side, don't stress as you can set up a belay on the right side using a couple of nuts and a couple of TCU's.

Starting the second pitch, getting into that huge dihedral and looking up had my jaw wide open. Beautiful 4" crack. I'm not the biggest fan of wide cracks and admittedly this has become one of my favorite climbs I've ever done. Maybe because I was too caught up worrying about gear and stout wider crack climbing. I just wasn't expecting it to be so good. There isn't a single thing I'd change on this whole climb. Doubles up to #4 C4 is the ideal rack. You have to do it. Aug 14, 2012
Colin Parker
Idyllwild, CA
Colin Parker   Idyllwild, CA  
I climbed this today for the first time and would like to confirm generationfourth's gear and belay beta. The only thing I'll add is that if you have a #4 and a #5 instead of two #4's this will also work. Combining pitches 1 and 2 sounds amazing but you had better bring a lot of gear! Also, if you want to rappel instead of doing the walkoff, be aware that the bottom 80 feet of the second rap is a free hanging rappel. I think the friction descent is probably the best way to go. May 19, 2013
I can't think of too many places a #4 is really needed, and definitely not a #5. there is always a spot nearby that a #3 would work just fine. the first pitch is different character and gear than second pitch. the original pitches are rather short too, so you really don't need extra gear to combine the 2 pitches. just a normal rack for more normal length pitches.

a 60m rope will just work fine... barely... if your knot is just right... Jun 6, 2013
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
P1 - I used a pink tricam off the bottom, and slung the flake out right as a directional for my second. Definitely cruxy getting to the ear, but pulling over the ear is easy and has bomber gear.

P2 - Lieback, jam, it's all good. I went around the roof and belayed at the small ledge. #1 and #2 camalots for gear on the left, or finger size gear on the right.

P3 - Fun. The slab move is straightforward if you are used to Tahquitz/Suicide slab. A little chimney action is useful to establish yourself on the good holds for the slab.

Gear: Set of nuts, one set of finger sized cams, doubles #.5-#4 camalot. I had a #3.5 camalot as well which I happily used. A third #2 camalot is useful for the belays. Oct 6, 2013
Chris G.
Chris G.   Lakewood
I have eyeballed this many times while walking down. My gf and I climbed it yesterday and I am still smiling from it. Read other comments and bring what you feel is safe. Two #4's are great and mentally three #4's would be awesome! The last 20 feet of p2 will get your heart rate up. I lie backed and bumped a #4 a good 5-6 times. Take peoples advice and belay up and right outside the cave on p2. Extra #1 and #2's won't go unused.

Does anyone know about he rap route here? Is it 2 rope repel or is there multiple anchors for a single 70? Mar 9, 2014
Eric Santos
Los Angeles, CA
Eric Santos   Los Angeles, CA
I tried climbing the crack to the right at the start of pitch two and was spit out about twenty feel off of the belay. Anyone have an idea of what this variation might be rated? Mar 10, 2014
Kesto Pesto
Oakland, CA
Kesto Pesto   Oakland, CA
Classic 5.9. Five years back, we climbed this after doing Whodunnit in the morning. As we racked up, this mystical old timer appears and suggested a #3 in this pod on the way to the crack, you know, in case of a fall the leader and belayer wouldn't go tumbling down a slab. Nice. So my partner leads off, a wild gust of wind rips through, startling him enough that he yells and I take him up real good, pulling him off the wall. The #3 held, his on-sight didn't. After the first pitch rumbling clouds came in. I ran up the lieback in a hurry, then topped out in the rain. Yikes. Sep 3, 2014
San Pedro, California
Benjaminadk   San Pedro, California
really beautiful looking piece of rock, and great climbing too. i thought the second pitch was about as good as it gets. the first pitch has a harder move, but get ahold of that big flake and its over. the third pitch isnt as great but who cares? topping out the easy chimney is a cool way to finish up. this climb and really the taquitz/suicide area as a whole made me want to move cross country and live in idyllwild, amazing scenery and awesome rock. jealous of the guy who grew up there! oh yeah...having two #4s made me feel alot better than if i had had only one. Nov 16, 2014
Jon Clark
Philadelphia, PA
Jon Clark   Philadelphia, PA
I think the quality of this route is overhyped. The line has great history and is visually awesome, but the climbing is just okay. Two easy boulder problems on pitch 1 surrounded by rambling climbing. The "money pitch" is a right side in blue collar 5.9 grunt. Cool moves around the roof to hiking up a ramp. Classic for the history only. Jun 11, 2015
Anouk Erni
Portland, OR
Anouk Erni   Portland, OR
Finally I got to climb this classic! I was a bit nervous from the comments saying it was harder than 5.9, but when I got on it, I never did a move that was harder than a .9. Super fun climb, the crux before the flake on the first pitch is very well protected. Second pitch I laybacked instead of jammed, and it felt easier at around .8. One of my favorite routes on Tahquitz! Sep 8, 2015
Climbed this for my second time this past weekend. Dark clouds were rolling in so my (less experienced) partner opted to give me all three pitches in the interest of time.

For the P2 crux, one BD#4 will keep you real safe, especially if you wait to place it. You can always walk it a bit if things get scary. Once you climb around the roof, there is good belay spot on the right that takes smaller gear and allows you to watch as your partner liebacks up the crux, skipping all the fun offwidth jamming, which is the best part of the climb (dammit, Melody).

All three pitches have great value at some point, with fun moves and good rock. Definitely worth doing! Jun 20, 2016
Oceanside, CA
dino74   Oceanside, CA
The first rap is very close to 35m, the others had a little more room to spare. It was nice having a 70m rope. Oct 23, 2016
Tyler S
Edmonds, WA
Tyler S   Edmonds, WA
What an awesome route. I'm a 5.9 leader and I found it pretty stout, although having good offwidth technique would have helped.

I would put more emphasis on #1s and #2s, I wish I had more of both of them, especially for the second half of P2. Nov 13, 2016
King Tut
Citrus Heights
King Tut   Citrus Heights
First 5.9 in the USA. Do this one and stand of the shoulders of giants.

RIP Royal Robbins 2/4/35 - 3/13/17 Mar 16, 2017
Camden Steed
Las vegas
Camden Steed   Las vegas
Climbed this route again yesterday, the plan was to do something around the northwest recess or on the west face but there was still quite a bit of snow at the base. My girlfriend and I decided the open book would be the best bet and made our way. Upon arriving to the base we noticed a bouquet of flowers, stuffed into a crack at the bottom of the dihedral. We both wondered why it was there and made up stories that made sense. Had someone fallen? Or had someone passed that loved this route? Had it been a proclamation of love, or romance? Simply a memorial for a long lost friend, lover, or partner?

I thought about this a lot while climbing the route. It was a beautiful day, and we never even heard, let alone saw another person. It felt magical, as climbing often does, but still it felt a little different.

We were driving home from lunch with my family today, talking about potential names for my soon to be little crusher nephew. I mentioned "Royal is such a bitchin' name, and a name like Royal Steed? C'mon!" Samantha spoke up, " I think Royal Robbins passed away the other day, I forgot to tell you." Suddenly the flowers made sense. A simple memorial to one of the greatest pioneers that climbing will ever know.

Thanks for the memories RR. Mar 17, 2017
Fernando Cal
Fernando Cal   CA, UT
Climbed this yesterday 4/09/17 in memory of RR (RIP). No one on the formation, felt surreal, imagining climbing this in the old days. Perfect weather, perfect climb, couldnt ask for a better day and climb.

Used two BD#4, two BD #3 (one was stuck) and nuts. Great protection. If you rap, a 70m rope will get you to the anchor right as you run out of rope. Awesome rap. Replaced webbing with my chalkbag sling and rap rings on last rap since webbing was super worn out and worn out. Decided to rap instead of friction route because why not. Apr 10, 2017
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
Jan Tarculas   Riverside, Ca
Climbed this on Monday April 17. Hardest individual move is probably getting to the flake on pitch one, but pitch two is the sustained crux. I don't think I've ever climbed anything so sustained as this (in the 5.10 and under routes). It's pretty Burly. Bringing 2 #4 C4 for pitch two was useful. I used one #4 on pitch 1, but you can do without. Apr 20, 2017
Safty Third
San Diego, CA
Safty Third   San Diego, CA
Soooooo sweet. I'd prefer an extra #2 and #3 over the #4. IF you climb past the roof to build the second belay, it's nice to have #2's. Use up your #3's on the pitch, and if you really want the #4 that will sew it up.. Layback is great for fast progress, but offwidthing is great for secure rests. Get on it! May 20, 2017
Luan Alencastro
Huntington Beach, CA
Luan Alencastro   Huntington Beach, CA
Brought gear to BD 3, didnt place a single 3, bringing any BD 4s (let alone multiple) us unnecessary. Passive pro worked wonders on this route, fantastic small-medium hex placements and nuts galore. Layback pitch is fantastic, hand jamming up it sounds absolutely miserable. Jan 4, 2018
Colin Lee
Colin Lee  
Climbed this route on Oct 6. One other party in front of us on a beautiful 60F day. Pitch 1 was crux but manageable. Besides a few awkward moves, just when I was getting nervous I was able to look around and find something. Super fun & varied climbing. P2 straight forward layback turning into jams. Brought two BD #3, old BD #3.5, BD #4, old BD #4.5. Didn't need the 4.5. Extra #2 could be useful. I placed several large nuts & could've even placed my hexes. Felt very well protected (except for the few p3 slab moves).

Was harassed by a drone. Tried to ignore it best I could and focus on the climb. It would've been hard to communicate with my climbing partner if it was necessary. Oct 7, 2018
master gumby  
Climbed this route again as a crack rather than a lie back and it is the superior way to go. Leave the #4 at home as it's not necessary you can jam 3" gear in the back of the "wide" section of the crack. Fun route and agree don't belay in the cave. There are several nice ledges after the cave that eat gear. Oct 21, 2018