Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Angel's Fright

5.6, Trad, 400 ft, 4 pitches,  Avg: 2.8 from 251 votes
FA: Jim Smith and William Rice, September 1936
California > Tahquitz & Suic… > Tahquitz Rock > (g) W Face > W Face - Center (Flin…


The crux is the first 40' of the climb. Start up a chimney then move into a nice crack system. The second and third pitches follow the crack system up to lunch ledge. From lunch ledge climb the crack to the runout 5.4 friction slab (1 bolt).


1 set of nuts, 1 set of hexes, BD Cams: .5 - 2

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Julie showing off on the 5.4 slab
[Hide Photo] Julie showing off on the 5.4 slab
Paul Goss on pitch below Lunch Ledge.
[Hide Photo] Paul Goss on pitch below Lunch Ledge.
My friend and motivator on the last pitch.  It was a cold day.
[Hide Photo] My friend and motivator on the last pitch. It was a cold day.
Climbing topo of Angel's Fright at Tahquitz. The most recent version is available at
[Hide Photo] Climbing topo of Angel's Fright at Tahquitz. The most recent version is available at
Following P4
[Hide Photo] Following P4
The exposed view as you move into the fingertip traverse variation of the last pitch.
[Hide Photo] The exposed view as you move into the fingertip traverse variation of the last pitch.
Climber scampering up the slabs at the last pitch.  Taken from the Maiden Buttress.
[Hide Photo] Climber scampering up the slabs at the last pitch. Taken from the Maiden Buttress.
At P2 Belay
[Hide Photo] At P2 Belay
bring my brother up the friction slab
[Hide Photo] bring my brother up the friction slab
Photo with the route of Angel's Fright at Tahquitz Rock drawn on top.
[Hide Photo] Photo with the route of Angel's Fright at Tahquitz Rock drawn on top.
Graham coming up P2
[Hide Photo] Graham coming up P2
Angel's Fright franger grippin' good
[Hide Photo] Angel's Fright franger grippin' good

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] The belay ledges on this climb are all quite large, making this a good choice if you have three or more climbers. Feb 21, 2006
C Miller
[Hide Comment] A great moderate (of which there are many) at Tahquitz that features fun climbing up a corner system and a very exposed finish on the upper slab.

The name is a take-off of Angel's Flight, the "World's shortest railroad". Mar 3, 2006
Bill Olszewski
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] Fun climb! I thought the steep section of P1 (P2 in the guidebook) was the crux. Got off-route up high but figured it out and finished with the fingertip "lieback" crack. Nice! Jul 9, 2007
Marcy -
Tempe/Tuscon, AZ
[Hide Comment] I recommend the fingertip lieback variation at the top - it is super FUN! Aug 27, 2007
[Hide Comment] The steep face climbing after the chimney felt the toughest part of the climb - deciding whether to go left or right. Went right and it might have been a little harder that way + rope drag got bad. Dihedral pitch is super easy and the roof is easier than it looks. For those leaving lunch ledge the first time, could be helpful to get beta from someone while you are there if you want to do the 5.3 slab finish instead of the crack. May 14, 2008
Dan Costello
[Hide Comment] This was a lot of fun and one of the first routes I ever led, so I learned some lessons here. As mentioned by others, Pitch 1 (Pitch 2 in the Vogel/Gaines guidebook) after the chimney does present a little route-finding opportunity, or it did for me.

The topo, route description, chalk marks, and old fixed gear are useful guides. But in the end being alert to the rock, looking around, thinking ahead, and developing a picture of the route when your vision affords is better. I earned myself a little downclimb from trying to treat this route like a Joshua Tree chalk railroad.

I'll echo some of the other commentators again: bring plenty of slings, and plan your placements to minimize rope drag. There's nothing like rope drag to turn a 5-nothing topout on smooth slab into a nightmare as having to fight your body weight in rope friction with only your own poor planning to blame :/

All things considered, though, a worthwhile and memorable route! Apr 19, 2009
Ron Thompson
Idlewild, CA
[Hide Comment] Try climbing the last pitch at night that's what happen with us. I had to climb the last pitch in total darkness, missing the protection bolts. This is what happens when you drink beer before climbing,"liquid courage." Mar 21, 2010
[Hide Comment] Here's some beta, pitch 2 video. The audio is out of sync a bit. Jul 21, 2011
Chris D
the couch
[Hide Comment] On the last pitch, you can almost eliminate rope drag by saving a couple of long runners for the gear you place just before you get into the left-trending crack that leads out under the slab with the bolt.

You don't need to extend all your gear...As you leave lunch ledge, wander as you see fit, but reserve gear placements for spots where you're directly above the belay. Extend a couple of pieces near the spot where you head out left as mentioned above, then put in one extended piece as you walk out the crack toward the little bush below the slab. If you do this, you won't feel like you're dragging a carcass behind you on the slab. Also, this permits a 60m rope to comfortably get you to a nice belay spot where it'll be an easy walk to the descent for everyone. Aug 26, 2011
Josh C
Somewhere out West
[Hide Comment] Not sure why this climb is so popular and I love Tahquitz. Aug 31, 2011
Jace Mullen
Oceanside, Ca
[Hide Comment] Maybe I'm a wussy but I felt like the chimney in the guidebook felt harder then the 5.4 the guidebook gives it. Sep 5, 2011
Chris D
the couch
[Hide Comment] The chimney is hard if you don't use the crack inside the chimney and the couple of chockstones. In that case, it's probably more of a 5.6 or 7 off-width, but if you use everything available to you, it's not hard, and easily protected. Oct 16, 2011
Chris Norwood
San Diego, CA
[Hide Comment] Fun Climb. Did it today in 3 pitches with a 60m rope. The entire corner is a little less than a full rope length to lunch ledge (maybe 55-57 m in total?), and you should not suffer any rope drag if you're mindful with placement locations since it's a pretty straight line.

Definitely link it unless you and your partner both want in on leading the corner. I enjoyed it more toward the top anyhow. The slab finish was good too and pretty mellow! Jun 14, 2012
Jan Tarculas
Riverside, Ca
[Hide Comment] Just did this yesterday with a friend (His first time ever doing trad/multipitch climb) and went very smooth. Climb can be done in 3 pitches. Ended the climb with the 5.5/5.6 slab with one bolt to the top. Jun 20, 2012
[Hide Comment] If you aren't up for the slab finish go right around the corner in a trough to an easy top out in a short corner, passing by the 5.6 layback finish on the way. Sep 16, 2012
[Hide Comment] Just climbed this route a few days ago for the first time. Bob Gaines' book describes this as a five pitch route. We did it in three without significant rope drag (except at the top) using long alpine runners. For the last pitch, we climbed the finger crack directly above the last tree/bush, rather than moving left for the slab. The finger crack was beautiful and I only wish it has been longer. Fun route with lots of variation. Toughest part for me was the first two placements in the book/chimney on the first pitch. Jul 2, 2013
All up in yo bidniss.
[Hide Comment] Linked P1-2 with a 70m. Not a fan of what would've been P2's steep section, though I was in approach shoes. Did P3 normal to the huge belay/bivy ledge where one has ample room to shout obscenities (good for communication with follower). P4 was cool, steep, nice finish but would've been easier with rock shoes on. Fixed Rock Empire cam in crack above that. Sorta awkward rapp anchor around tree. Easy rapps down but be smart with pulling ropes or you could get them stuck. Had to reclimb P3 to get rope out from behind a chockstone. 70m makes it from top of P2 to ground with a little to spare.

Cheers Oct 20, 2013
[Hide Comment] Forget just linking 1+2, with a few feet of simul-climbing and a 70m you can link all the way to lunch ledge. Oct 21, 2013
Phoenix, AZ
[Hide Comment] About 90 feet up there is a tree with a bunch of slings around it where one can still rap to the ground. Is this the first belay station or is it best to make way up and right for the first belay? Feb 9, 2015
Tim Heid
[Hide Comment] Pretty delayed on answering your question K-Tanz, but the tree you described was about even with where I ended up belaying for pitch 1. I didn't use that tree b/c it looked like a more uncomfortable belay spot than the ledge just to the right(which also has a tree with a few horizontal cracks nearby). Aug 24, 2015
[Hide Comment] WARNING!

On the second pitch, after the steep bit (in the photo Kendal leading...) the route jogs right a bit and ascends several ledges. One of these has a car engine block size chunk of a bit decomposed rock that is completely detached and vibrates. It's right where you want to go.

Trundling this one would likely kill anyone on the route below or standing at the base.

It's marked for now with an X, but the bad section extends for a couple of feet to the left as well.

No Touchee!!!!!

Given that this route is popular for the relatively inexperienced and often generates a conga line, someone local should consider taking a crowbar to it mid week.

FWIW I've done this route several dozen times over the past 45 years and this is the first time I've seen something really hazardous on this route and the first time I've ever suggested cleaning something off any route.

In any case, next winters freeze thaw cycle should remove it. Aug 30, 2015
Ben Crowell
[Hide Comment] It doesn't really make sense to me that Gaines calls both this climb and Jensen's Jaunt 5.6. Angel's Fright is at least a grade or two easier. Chuck Wilts's 1974 guidebook calls Angel's Fright 5.4 and Jensen's Jaunt 5.6, which seems more reasonable. Sep 16, 2017
Chase Leoncini
San Diego, CA
[Hide Comment] Felt 5.7. Last pitch l, the section from the bush to the tree felt pretty terrifying considering the drag and how you really can’t communicate well with your belayer. Not a good beginner trad lead. Jul 18, 2018
[Hide Comment] Whoever left a dookie at the base of this climb yesterday morning....not cool. You could literally follow your nose to the base and the breeze was such that the stench accompanied you up the chimney of P1.

Other than that we felt like P1 and P2 should definitely be linked. Aug 27, 2018