Type: Trad, 500 ft, 4 pitches
FA: Jim Smith, Bob Brinton, Arthur Johnson, and William Rice, September 1936
Page Views: 16,770 total · 104/month
Shared By: Roger Linfield on Feb 24, 2006
Admins: C Miller, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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From Lunch Rock, walk right until the rock starts to curve sharply around to your right. Start the climb by going up a third class gully to a tree below an overhang. Climb the tree and exit left around the overhang, and then continue up easy ground to the top of a shrubby area and belay. An obvious right-facing lieback (5.3) goes up to a broken area and an optional belay. Step around left to the obvious fingertrip traverse which gives the route its name. Continue up and left along this crack to easier ground. Broken 4th class climbing takes you up to Lunch Ledge. The easiest way to the top from here is to move up over some three foot steps. Continue up and right along an obvious gully to the shoulder of the rock.


standard rack


Easier than Fingertrip. But nowhere near as classic. I suppose if you want a multi-pitch experience with no difficulty at all, this route is ok. But there are better routes. Aug 14, 2007
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
I could disagree more with cisco. Mathematically, it's impossible. As a beginner's climb, I can think of few better routes, with the possible exception of, say, the East Face of the Third Flatiron. From the step across out of the tree on the first pitch, the exposed lieback on pitch 2, the even more exposed fingertip traverse on pitch 3, it's just all too good. Do it and you'll see. Jan 22, 2009
Brian Hench
Costa Mesa, CA
Brian Hench   Costa Mesa, CA
I would think that many would want to rope up for the "third class gully". It seem more like fourth class to me. If you have a beginner in tow, I wouldn't ask him or her to solo that gully.

We finished the traverse pitch by continuing up and left to a large tree located above and right of lunch ledge. From here we continued up Angel's Fright and finished with the slab at the top. A total of four pitches. Aug 10, 2009
Tyler Williams
Flagstaff, AZ
Tyler Williams   Flagstaff, AZ
watch out for the ant tree Feb 16, 2010
Justin Tomlinson
Monrovia, CA
Justin Tomlinson   Monrovia, CA
While most of the climbing here is easy, I would not rate Fingertip Traverse a perfect beginners climb. (See The Trough for perfect beginners climb).

If you have a super noobie, I think they might find the exposure of the fingertip traverse combined with insecure feet and thin fingers quite spicy. Not terribly difficult, per se, but maybe not a confidence builder, especially with swing potential in the event of a fall.

Don't let the 5.3 rating fool you into thinking this is an easy walk up. Climbing the lieback requires some skill in technique for a move or two that might pose problems for some super noobs.

For a rating, I would give this climb a 5.5 based on the lieback and the traverse. Definately harder than anything on the Trough. Plus, you still have to top out coming off of Lunch Ledge, which offers runout 5.4 slab, delicate 5.6 tips/lieback, or I think there is (?) 5.0 slab up there.

Anyway, an okay climb. Jul 3, 2011
Josh C
Somewhere out West
Josh C   Somewhere out West
Combined with the first pitch of "Fingertrip" this is one of my all-time favorite routes. A great beginner climb and a great climb for a mellow cruiser day.

The first time I climbed it I had too much rope drag at the start of the slab on the last pitch. I built a belay off the little tree (yikes) then belayed up my girlfriend. When she got to the tree and saw that the climbed ended just up the slab, she let the expletives fly right at me. But, she must've had fun since she's now my wife. Jul 17, 2011
Encinitas, CA
RockyR   Encinitas, CA
Did this route on 8.11.11 w/ a local climber, Russell Romero. This was my first multi-pitch trad lead. It was definitely fun! On the 2nd pitch, climbing up on the tree to the rock was pretty interesting!

Took my first lead trad fall on the 3rd pitch where there's a lie back section. BD #2 is what I fell on! It was definitely a great section.

On the actual traverse, since I am not used to being that exposed and high up, I had to really get out off my head to do the traverse. Thankfully Russell was very patient w/ me and I did it clean! Placed 3 pro's during the traverse. WHEW!

The descent was more spicier than the actual climb. Russell took me to a different longer route and still nerve wracking. Guess I will have to keep going back up there to get use to it :)

Overall, it was definitely a fun climb! Aug 12, 2011
Richard Shore
Richard Shore  
Classic as it gets for the grade. Add some extra spice by doing the 5.4 slab finish off Lunch Ledge. Sep 23, 2011
Tristan Burnham
La Crescenta, CA
Tristan Burnham   La Crescenta, CA
We did this route today. My parnter couldn't get my yellow master cam out from a spot in the middle of the traverse. If you get it, congrats on the booty and it's a pretty new cam with no falls so you can trust it. Oct 24, 2011
Encinitas, CA
RockyR   Encinitas, CA
Love this route. Did it again on 7.10.12 w/ a buddy that has never been to Tahquitz. Finished the last pitch with the fingertip lieback section. Fist time me leading that section. Love it!!! Super fun day!

vimeo.com/45602227 Jul 12, 2012
Colin Parker
Idyllwild, CA
Colin Parker   Idyllwild, CA  
I have to agree with Justin Tomlinson on this one. It's a great route, but it's certainly NOT 5.3, and probably not a good climb for super noobs. I brought two friends on their first outdoor climbing trip up this thing yesterday and I made the tough call to rap before the traverse. I scouted it and downclimbed it and it felt every bit of 5.5 to me. You have positive fingertip holds and marginal foot holds at the crux. Also, lots of exposure here. The lieback on pitch 2 also has a few difficult moves near the top, definitely not 5.3. So I highly recommend this to people breaking into the 5.5 grade and even novices comfortable with exposure, but not your average beginner. May 25, 2013
The Tahquitz decimal system (later to be adopted as the YDS)was originally based on a list of climbs that established the basis for the grading system by Chuck Wilts in multiple editions of his guidebook.

5.0 The Trough
5.1 Fingertip Traverse
5.3 Northeast Farce
5.4 Angels Fright
5.5 Ski Tracks
5.6 Sahara Terror
5.7 Fingertrip
5.8 Mechanic's Route (Booksellers Route)

Later additions were
5.9 Open Book
5.10 Blank
5.10+ Blankety-Blank

Just explain to the beginners what a "fingertip traverse" is and that you aren't supposed to try to walk across it.

Tried that as a NOOB my first time at Tahquitz about 45 years ago.

dont! May 26, 2013
Chris D
the couch
Chris D   the couch
There's no reason to argue about the grade on this route (or other easy Tahquitz routes), but not because it's actually a "modern" 5.3 (whatever that is)...

This was one of my first leads, and I've done this route a number of times with a variety of brand new seconds on the other end of the rope and the lieback, while short and easily well-protected, is a mandatory lieback, very smooth on the feet, and includes a couple of moves that would earn a rating of 5.6 or .7 if it was FA'd somewhere else today. It's not The Slab, which is rated 5.8, and felt like 5.10 to me, but maybe Tahquitz is a place with people who historically were really good at liebacking. Ha!

The slab finish would probably be called 5.6 at Big Rock (for comparison) even without the massive rope drag you'll probably have if you placed any gear at all above lunch ledge.

The actual fingertip traverse is probably 5.3.

Just rambling, but my point is that a new leader who feels like having a throw at multipitch should totally not hesitate to do this climb. It will teach you routefinding skills, and while mostly very easy, has short sections of well-protected challenges in the still-easy range to keep it interesting. May 4, 2014
Dean Olson
Dean Olson  
That "third class gully" is definitely fourth class, but not hard. Can be done in Chacos. The lieback is the first part of the climb that actually gets your attention. Do not climb too far up the right leaning crack and miss the traverse (I had to down climb some 10 feet because of this).

Super fun route that is an easy-to-do introduction to increased exposure. If you are still cutting your teeth, this one will take you for a ride.

Edit: Also, yeah, that ant tree sucks. Jun 22, 2014
Kyle Wills
Chicago, IL
Kyle Wills   Chicago, IL
Definitely trend right from the belay after the traverse. The "layback flake" is the best way to finish, adds just a little technical climbing to a fun route. Also there is NO REASON to use the tree to start the first pitch of climbing after the gully. Sep 6, 2015
Ben Crowell
Ben Crowell  
I posted a topo. Comments and corrections would be welcome. I climbed this yesterday, and both I and my follower spent some time messing around with different possible ways of getting out of the ant tree belay and onto the rock while minimizing time spent in the tree getting eaten alive. In the description on the topo I gave a method that worked well for me and seemed pretty easy physically, which was basically to use the tree only for a little bit of stemming. We didn't try climbing the broken overhangs at the back or going way around to the right. Jul 16, 2017
MariaZ Zimmerman
San Diego, CA
MariaZ Zimmerman   San Diego, CA
I did this this past weekend. The hardest part was the angels fright finish slab.

I got to lead the fingertip traverse pitch and it was AMAZING. One of the most memorable pitches I've done at Tahquitz so far. Despite the exposure it was hard to remember to put lots of pro in for the follower.

Also got to lead the pitch where I had to climb the tree. I thought this was hilarious and good fun. I girth hitched the tree to protect the move where I flopped onto the rock.

Used my standard rack of a set of nuts and .3-3 cams. Aug 7, 2017
Robert Hall
North Conway, NH
  5.5 PG13
Robert Hall   North Conway, NH  
  5.5 PG13
Did this back in 2011....didn't post anything 'till now. Nice climb, but thought the 5.4 rating still too "old school" (getting to, and around, the bush/tree on the traverse seemed the crux with not-the-greatest-protection for either leader or follower); plus after you "finish" the climb on "Lunch Ledge" you need to top out on at least a 5.5-5.6 PG-13/R pitch of climbing.

Interesting this once was rated 5.1 ! Mar 2, 2018
Ben Crowell
Ben Crowell  
One of the old fixed pins at the start of the traverse broke off recently, so I assume the other one is also getting ready to go and should not be thought of as real pro. I disagree with Robert Hall about pro on the traverse and on the final slab section. The traverse protects just great with cams, and in any case a fall would be pretty inconsequential because there is nothing below to hit. It would just be a pain to get back on route, because you'd probably have to prusik back up. On the final slab, you only have to climb about 10-15 vertical feet to get to the bolt, and if you did slip, it would be a low fall factor, solid pro below, and nothing much to hit down below except maybe the tree. Once you clip the bolt, you only have another 10 feet or so before you can get a cam in. I'm a wimp on slab myself, but no way is this PG-13 slab. May 21, 2018