Type: Trad, 180 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Jim McCarthy, Roman Sadowy, Claude Suhl, 1960
Page Views: 19,048 total · 119/month
Shared By: Guy H. on Feb 21, 2006
Admins: JSH

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Access Issue: 2019 Peregrine Closure Details
Access Issue: Tree Preservation and Rappeling Details


This is THE standard for 5.9 routes at the Gunks. It is a must do for a visiting climber. The route is located to the right of Three Pines on the right side of the Mac Wall.

The MF access trail is about a 6-min. walk from the Uberfall, or a 2-min. walk from where the East Trapps Connector Trail meets the carriage road. The trail leads to the base of the climb at a 20'-high thin crack. This is about 80' right of Something Interesting.

P1: Climb the crack and face below the overhang, making a slight jog to the left. Place gear in the horizontal to the right (or clip the piton) and pull right through the overhang onto the small ledge with a bolted anchor. You'll need to make a few moves before you get your next gear. The final moves up and left through the headwall will test your endurance. A stimulating lead; 5.9, 80'.

Variation: Instead of moving right after clipping the piton, head straight up the overhang and climb the crack above to the anchor. 5.10a, R.

P2: Traverse right though a left-facing corner and through the notch in the roof. Continue upwards to a horizontal traverse to the left. Follow the right-facing dihedral to the GT Ledge. 5.9, 80'.

There is a bolted anchor atop P1. From P2, it is difficult to rappel to the P1 bolts due to the overhang; instead, climb easier rock to the cliff top, then rappel the bolted line 50' to climber's left, or descend with two ropes to the ground.


Gear to 3".
Spfld, Ma
GoBotRocker   Spfld, Ma
MF is a blast, althought a scary blast. The 1st pitch wasn't over till I got to the anchor. The 2nd pitch roof is easy and has good pro. Not a good choice for your 1st 5.9. Also a great candidate for twins or doubles. That all said, it's a climb like Shockley's or Bonnies (with the Direct variation) that should be climbed every year until they confine me to a wheel chair. Jul 4, 2006
This is an absolutely great climb! The first pitch is both pumpy and scary. Gear is not obvious above that roof, and it's all too tempting to keep making stenuous moves as the gap between body and gear grows! The second pitch is devious but easier in my opinion, and just as cool as it wanders up the beautiful face above. These two pitches, served with Dangler, make for three exemplary pitches of 5.9 climbing. May 11, 2007
Essential route. Personally, of the three hard sections I found the first overhanging corner the easiest. It looks intimidating from stance after clipping pin, but it's just a matter of committing and grabbing the big hold on the nose. (Rope was behind my left leg and pinned me halfway through the sequence of swinging onto the face.) The bulge after that is quite strenuous and requires more moves. Most folks probably consider the roof beginning the second pitch as an afterthought. I did, and had to really pump to make it. Wonderful climb. Feb 19, 2008
eric larson
aurora, co
eric larson   aurora, co
as the DW guide says, this is the standard 5.9 in the gunks. unfortunately it gets the top rope train run on it so it can be a pain to get on... but the beauty of the gunks is that if one three star climb is taken there is a pick of a million others! Apr 22, 2008
In 1976 I had done a lot of 'Gunks 5.8s, and I asked around for an easy 5.9. Everyone recommended MF, and my climbing log from back then reads: "No falls, seemed fairly easy for 5.9." I did it 2-3 years ago, and it seemed pretty stiff for the grade. Time marches on. May 12, 2008

great route for the grade. i have only climbed at the gunks a few times, so i am not necessarily dialed-in, but i thought it was harder than p-38, doubleissima, low exposure, nosedive, or probably any other 5.10 i have done at the gunks. it was hot and sweaty as balls though, so maybe that had something to do with it.

the first crux seemed way improbable, but luckily you can always back down to a good rest, and go up and check it out again.

i thought the second crux was similar but more difficult than the doubleissima crux. luckily you can climb up and down to a good stance and slowly work it out.

props to macarthy, proud indeed! Jun 8, 2009
Michael Goodhue
Michael Goodhue   Colorado
Did the direct version by accident. Whoops. Otherwise it was awesome and I definitely recommend it. DW calls it 5.10a PG-R. Pull solid moves up and left from the roof, after clipping the fixed pin. But you don't get gear in for a little while. I think a fall would be big but still safe. Sep 14, 2009
George Perkins
The Dungeon, NM
George Perkins   The Dungeon, NM
If you do the 2nd pitch, a 2 rope rappel makes for the easiest descent. (There is a somewhat scary intermediate anchor on Birdie Party that might allow for 2 raps with a single rope, or with more effort than its worth you can get to the MF p1 anchor.)

2nd pitch is worth climbing too. May 19, 2010
MF Direct is definitely a fun and worthwhile climb and easily setup on TR after doing the regular route if you're not up to leading it, as it is a bit run out and pumpy to place gear. That said, definitely not 10+ or 11-, maybe 10b at most. Nowhere near as hard as Coex or Graveyard. May 30, 2012
Simon Thompson
New Paltz, NY
Simon Thompson   New Paltz, NY
Amazing climb. Accidentally climbed the direct variation. I'd probably call it 10a or 10- with some PG-13. It's impressive that the crux flake on P2 remains intact. I really yarded on it... Nov 12, 2012
Catherine Rioux
Toronto, ON
Catherine Rioux   Toronto, ON
I did the direct variation on the first pitch by accident and was told by some local that it is 10a R. I agree with the 10a grading.
I think the variation should be included in the description. :) Definitely! Done. --JSH Jun 2, 2015
Fort Collins, CO
Kurtz   Fort Collins, CO
So what does MF stand for? Jun 15, 2016
^ ^ ^
I've heard McCarthy’s Follies but for those that have climbed it Mother F***er certainly seems appropriate. No matter the meaning as others have already stated it is a fantastic climb. Jul 21, 2016
There was a recent question about what "MF" stands for. My recollection from many days of climbing in the Gunks in 1984-1985 was that it stands for "My Finest". I think this even was stated in the original "Red" Gunks Guidebook, but I lost that years ago (bummer ...).

MF was my first 5.9 lead. My climbing partner even failed to give me enough slack on my first pull up over the 1st pitch overhang, but I got it on the second try/pull, no falls. Great memories !!! Main protection was a TriCam for me, as a grad student I couldn't afford any Friends back then. Jan 30, 2017
Fan Zhang
Silver Spring, MD
Fan Zhang   Silver Spring, MD
Not having fully appreciated George Perkins' comment above from May 19, 2010, we foolishly tried to rappel from the top of pitch 2 to the pitch 1 anchor with a single 60m rope but quickly realized it would be too difficult to reach the P1 anchor because of the roof. So we topped out instead, finishing with some easy fun climbing. May 30, 2017
Molly Zhu
New york
Molly Zhu   New york
Did p2 but only found a scary anchor...is it supposed to be the one with 2 rusted pitons and two nuts? Apr 25, 2018
Molly, traditionally that 2d pitch of MF is supposed to go to the GT Ledge, and then you can just move left to the Three Pines bolted rap route. The junky anchor you are talking about is really for people to combine the first pitches of all of the climbs in that section of the wall with the roof problems just above, in a single pitch.You can do Interstice, Mother's Day Party, Birdie Party, or MF, including the second pitch roofs (mix and match at your pleasure) from the ground in one pitch, and then lower off-- IF YOU HAVE A 70 METER ROPE. A 60 METER DOES NOT REACH. I like to back the anchor up while my second climbs the pitch. A green .75 or red #1 Camalot works. Apr 28, 2018
Ben Hoste
Tucson, AZ
Ben Hoste   Tucson, AZ
I ran into Claude Suhl at the cliff in the fall of 2017 and he said MF stood for Mother Fucker. That they had an old school rating system back in the day that went something along the lines of Damn, Shit, MF, etc. I do not recall the exact terms or the order they were in. And he said that MF was the first of this grade at the Gunks at the time it was put up. BUT, he could have easily been pulling my leg. He also politely downplayed his contribution to MF's first ascent, simply saying he was lucky to be climbing with McCarthy that day.

Great guy, have run into him a few times while climbing at the Gunks and he is always kind, gracious, modest, and has wonderful stories to share. I'll never forget running into him on Beginner's Delight on my 33 birthday (while my partner and I were climbing 33 pitches in a day) and Claude Suhl and I enjoyed a nice belay chat on the coffin at the base of Beginner's Delight's third pitch. He was surprised I knew who Beverly Johnson was, and I was surprised he was surprised by that fact! He and his party graciously let us rappel on their double ropes (they were a party of three) to speed up or descent.

Anyway, MF is an awesome climb, can't imagine putting this thing up in 1960 with old school shoes and pitons. Those guys were hardcore. I have mad respect for that generation, it certainly feels like climbing is a bit a different these days than it once was. May 30, 2018
Dlent lent  
this route was a milestone for me Jan 16, 2019