Type: Trad, 300 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Chuck wilts and Ray Van Aken, Sept 1947
Page Views: 26,062 total · 162/month
Shared By: Dpurf on Feb 24, 2006 with improvements by George Wu
Admins: C Miller, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Left Ski Track is location 200 right and around from the Open Book. 2 parallel right curving cracks in the middle of the South Face. It has a series of variation from 5.6 to 5.9.

P1 - From the tree there is a sloping platform, walk out on to it next to the large block. If you keep going that will take you to the Chauvinist. Move up and over (can be hard to protect)then move left to a crack leading to the face between the "ski tracks". Move up and stay to the left on great jugs to a 2 bolt belay.

P2 - Climb the left 'ski track' crack to its end at a small ledge with a fixed pin. Then take the classic "Step Around" move that take you to around the corner to the right to a series of ledges. Belay on the first good ledge.

P3 - climbs the crack system up and right pass a series of ledges. At the 3rd ledge move left and up to a vertical wall with double cracks. Move left on to a 4th class ledge to take you to the top.

Variation 1 - during the 2nd pitch at the end of the crack on the small ledge climb up and left past a bolt (5.9) to a crack system that leads to the top.

V2 - From the second belay, climb straight up the arete/crack that blanks into a slab with a bolt that lead to the 4th class ledge. Then move tot he top.

V3 - On the 3rd ptich from the last ledge move out right up a 5.6 crack until it ends and traverse right across the slab and up to the top.

V4 *** - and the Best finish (5.8) At the begining of the leftward traverse at the 4th class ledge, climb directly over a bulge to a pin then delicate friction moves to the top.


Pro to 2.5 inches.


Bill Olszewski
Colorado Springs, CO
Bill Olszewski   Colorado Springs, CO
This is a fun climb! Did it in March (it was hot all over SoCal so we snuck in for a great day while the climbing gods were looking the other way ;-) The step around is awesome but don't be confused by the topo - climb up onto the block, clip the upper piton, and do the step around with your feet on the lower section of the block. This move is not done below the block as the topo shows, unless you want it to be a lot harder than 5.7. I prefer the variation 2 above the standard second belay - it's a more aesthetic line that climbs well and the slab moves at the top are sweet! The step around is definately the money but I think the move is considerably harder than the rating given for this climb. Apr 8, 2007
Greg DeMatteo
W. Lebanon, NH
Greg DeMatteo   W. Lebanon, NH
Probably the most unique 5.6 I've ever done. Slinging chickenheads and pimpin up the corner and then the airy step-around. Highly recommended. May 12, 2007
Really fun , lots of nuts typical for tahhquitz. I found a big piece useful, both in the 2nd anchor and to protect for my second above the bolt on the finish pitch. A red tricam protected the move getting into the crack off the slab way better than a cam, i cant imagine climbing here without tricams.
Nov 11, 2007
JoshuaTreeRunner David
Los Angeles
JoshuaTreeRunner David   Los Angeles
Enjoyable variety. Mellow, fun, and safe. Classic. Sep 22, 2008
Dan Costello
Dan Costello  
Lots of fun! I'm a newish leader on multipitch routes, so here are my impressions for other fresh faces looking for an intro to Tahquitz.

Go for it. This route has generous placements for protection throughout. I will echo Bill Olszewski's advice to not get lured below the block on the step-around. The fixed pitons are a nice guide. As on most traversing moves, remember to protect after the traverse -- If your second is nervous a solid placement after the step-around will reduce fears of a swinging fall and thus lessen the amount of Terrorface.

Bring long slings, and actively plan your placements to reduce rope drag. Apr 19, 2009
Chris D
the couch
Chris D   the couch
If you are a new leader this route is exciting as hell. The first pitch is great holds and confident climbing, but pro has to be well-extended to prevent drag and a fall would be, well, bumpy on the highly featured rock.

The second pitch past the step-around is as airy as it gets at the grade and height and is totally exhilarating. Step back out at the belay past the step-around and throw some extra pro in for your second.

For the third pitch we opted to take the flake that runs pretty much straight up from the belay to the fourth-class traverse left after looking up the gully that constitutes the proper final pitch. Looked like steep friction with crazy exposure below so felt stronger on the flake.

What a great climb. Mar 17, 2010
+1 on tricams - many of the pin scars protect well with cams, and great nut placements are abundant, but if you've got the tricams then you'll appreciate them more than ever here. fun route, though I was a little concerned about the stability of the big chockstone just below the first belay... Apr 18, 2011
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
"...i cant imagine climbing here without tricams."

The route has been climbed countless times since 1947, well before the advent of tricams. It's great that you thought they worked well on this route, but this route protects great with just about any type of passive gear or cams. May 12, 2011
The step around's not bad at all just a bit of balance is needed. Taller folk and get a nice finger slot up and right of the piton. Oct 22, 2011
Gabe K
Palisade, CO
Gabe K   Palisade, CO
Climbed this two weeks ago at the end of the day. We were too tired to want to finish after the first pitch - thankfully a 60m rope will get you safely down to the ground a bit uphill of where the climb starts (climber's right). Oct 26, 2011
Tapawingo Markey   Reno?
Mellow and fun route, I feet it is a solid first lead for anyone considering the short pitches and good placements. The step around was fun even without sporting a sombrero and chucks. We did the finish that goes straight up the crack at the 2nd belay which was great but I ended up wandering around a bit to find a good belay spot from the top. Jun 27, 2012
skinny legs and all
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
skinny legs and all   Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
There is a beautiful essay about a wobbler John Long had while following John Bachar soloing in Long's book Rock Jocks, Wall Rats and Hangdogs called "Last Blasphemy". Feb 10, 2013
Michael Douglas
Yucaipa, CA
Michael Douglas   Yucaipa, CA
The step around is really dicy for the follower since they are pulling the final pieces of gear. A #3 C4 in the crack following the traverse with a double length sling to extend will do the trick. Otherwise, the 2nd can take a nasty wipper if the last pice between them and the anchor is the piton. Feb 19, 2013
Russ Walling
Overlord @ FishProducts
Russ Walling   Overlord @ FishProducts
There is a beautiful essay about a wobbler John Long had while following John Bachar soloing in Long's book Rock Jocks, Wall Rats and Hangdogs called "Last Blasphemy".

Wrong Left Ski Track there history buff. The Left Ski Track depicted in the story is in JT, and Largo ain't wobbling on a 5.6- ever. And as an aside, the story is titled the The Only Blasphemy.

Here is the link to the climb: mountainproject.com/v/left-… Apr 8, 2013
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
It's been years since I climbed the first pitch of this route, and I found the finish toward the belay just as gripping as I did when I was green. These moves are clearly the crux. The step-around is not too difficult or scary at all. The thing is that the leader is not well protected on the final moves of the first pitch, but the second is, and vice versa on the step-around of the second pitch. Pick yer poison.

Tricams are not needed on this route. Also, the 5.8 finish with the piton is quite nice and enhances the diversity of climbing. Oct 18, 2013
Phoenix, AZ
K-Tanz   Phoenix, AZ
I thought this was pretty stiff for a 5.6 but I have a feeling that's just the standard of the area. I found the first pitch to be the definite crux. The move from the starting ramp to gain the big holds on the face is tough to protect but a #3 Mastercam in a big pin scar seated pretty comfortably. Bring lots of long slings for the P1 face, I used all 10 I brought. Moving to the anchors don't be tempted to move left with the anchors at eye level, but instead move up with the anchors about at knee level for an easy and safe leftward traverse. I thought P2 was straightforward and the step-around was no real issue but was fun with some cool exposure. I used a #3 C4 and some small gear for the P2 belay.
Protection was there but the novice leader may have some issues as the protection is sometimes inobvious. I definitely used some Ball-Nuts in pin scars which was pretty rad I thought! Jan 21, 2014
Chris D
the couch
Chris D   the couch
After climbing this route a few times, I'd advise strongly against the advice K-Tanz gives above. Half the fun of climbing this route is unlocking the puzzle to achieving the anchors at the top of the first pitch from below. The moves aren't that hard, and are a lot of fun. You will want to go pretty far left below the anchors (before you even can see the bolts) to find the easiest way to the bolts from below. It's challenging, but rewarding. Just pay attention to where the bolts are before you leave the ground if you're worried about missing the. At the grade, why would you want to take the easier way?

You get a bomber cam right before you head out left, so you'll be solid.

This route has a huge collection of small to large pin scars for you to plug mastercams in. May 4, 2014
Sam Cannon
Salt Lake City, UT
Sam Cannon   Salt Lake City, UT
I found the infamous step around to be quite mellow, I was actually disappointed as it is hyped up quite a bit (though I think the route itself is classic). I found the face-undercling on P1 to be very committing and somewhat PG-13.I could've gone off route I guess, but the moves were thrilling and yeah, committing.

Probably only a handful of sub 5.7 routes that are this incredible. Don't know why anyone would give it less than 4 stars. Jun 13, 2014
Perspective of a newer leader...

The approach was more exhausting than the climb.

The last couple moves below the first anchor ledge were awesome but definitely seemed trickier and more committing than I expected from 5.6. The slab moves to exit the crack on p3 seemed a lot trickier than expected also. Anyone have pointers on this one?

This photo blog has good photos to find the friction decent jonclimbingon.blogspot.com

If you want to learn/new to leading, I would suggest looking into routs on Hogsback (near Lover's Leap). The extra driving from LA, I think is worth the shorter approach and much more straight forward routs (as a beginner).

Side note, I saw an old guide book (80s probably) that has this as a 5.5. Jul 21, 2014
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
Did this 2 yrs ago and don't recall anything complicated about getting to the anchors of P1. I do remember feeling I was about to "cruise" the step-around...when suddenly my body was SLOWLY just pitching off, a quick grab for some hold pulled me back in, but it was a scary moment...I can't remember a similar experience in several decades of climbing. (i.e. when I thought I was in balance, but wasn't)
Also, as mentioned above, there's a good placement up high (Yellow Alien, small Camalot) to protect the follower on this move. I remember it's up high because I had to remove it after my 5ft 4" second climbed over to the belay. Aug 26, 2014
Ryan Strickland
Idyllwild, CA
Ryan Strickland   Idyllwild, CA
A 60m rope will get you from the ground to just past the step around to belay. Doing it that way makes for a really fun, long pitch.

Either way, great route. Apr 21, 2015
Gregory Cooper
Phoenix Arizona
Gregory Cooper   Phoenix Arizona
FYI. At the top of this pitch someone built a rappel anchor. DO NOT USE a single rope rappel system. Even with a 70m rope it didn't reach the first belay/rap station on pitch 1, you'll be about 15 feet short, I learned the hard way. Take the typical friction exit instead. I have no idea if a two rope system will work or not. Nov 1, 2016
Rich and Ben
Temecula, CA
Rich and Ben   Temecula, CA
When I reached the first belay at the end of pitch 1, and realized how narrow the ledge was, I was relieved to be able to set up my anchor on the bolts. Then when I reached the second belay at the end of pitch 2, I was relieved to find a wider ledge. Unfortunately, I was not as satisfied with the options for anchor building. My cams (#1,#2,#2.5) didn't fit deep into the one vertical but shallow crack. Apr 5, 2018
Ben Crowell
Ben Crowell  
I've posted a topo. Comments or corrections would be welcome. Apr 13, 2019