Avg: 3.8 from 179 votes
|Type:||Trad, Alpine, 7 pitches, Grade III|
|FA:||John Dietschy & Irene Ortenburger - July 10, 1957|
|Page Views:||39,756 total · 228/month|
|Shared By:||Buff Johnson on Mar 11, 2006|
|Admins:||Mike Snyder, Taylor Spiegelberg, Jake Dickerson|
Pitch 1 (5.7) is marked by a tree located well to the climber's right of the arete proper. Straightforward to the belay at a good stance with a block. If traversing in from the Caves area, you won't start at the tree (nor will you be able to see the tree), you will probably rope up and traverse in about 40' above the tree then my suggestion is to make an intermediate belay as there is a flake that catches the rope which could give you fits as you try to belay your second to the start of P2.
Pitch 2 (5.8) is the most serious & sustained of the climb. You follow the natural line which is somewhat flaring & somewhat OW. There is a pin at the crux, but it will not protect you until after you move through it. Focus & be solid at 5.8, this pitch is a fight. Belay at a huge ledge, take a breather, & rehydrate. It is possible to escape this route going to the right at this point (If you wanted to get a couple of pitches in while camping @ the Meadows before heading to the Grand - this is a good venue). There are 2 raps, we used 60M, I don't know if a 50M will allow for you to escape without burning gear.
Pitch 3 (original - 5.7) Cross over the arete back & forth on a roofy pitch with a black rock band; really cool face climbing with roof pulls. Reminds you of Eldo. As I was moving across the arete, what was a calm morning became a gusty alpine day. Scared the shit out of me, as my position was on the edge. Finish at an obvious good belay ledge.
(variant 5.9, is climber's right and follows up a natural line going back left into the black rock band. I think R. Rossiter has a picture of the 5.7 in his guide book. I wish I took a pic of the 5.9 variant, totally committing section right off of the ledge.)
Pitch 4 (original 5.8) traverses left, protection available before a leader moves around the arete, but for a second, a fall will be a wild ride (it is a clean traversing fall) out & off of the arete. Then climb up through black rock on good holds. This next section is really wild, face climbing traverse back right on quartz (this is where that 2" white crystal is); just trust the feet, it's all a sequential section. At this point it hits you, this route is a classic. There is a fixed piece that you probably should back up with a cam to preserve its placement due to vectoring of a second fall traversing on this section and the pin is looking not too good. Belay is at a sloping ledge with a fixed pin and gear seam.
(Variant 5.8: natural line climber's right of the arete, this looked good and really sustained. I may have to give this section a go.)
Pitch 5 (original 5.7): climb climber's left of the sloping ledge up cracks & face moves up to a horizontal knife edge.
HOWEVER, right in front of you is an excellent 5.9 slightly overhanging fingers-to-hand crack through a short quartz section. With jugs available to help you escape out of this section (an off-balance move, just do it - also, take a look down over your left shoulder, oh man!). Once at the horizontal knife-edge, do a short leapfrog over to a tree.
Pitch 6 (original 5.7): go down & right about 150' (though this looked like a shorter distance to me) and up a short weakness (R. Rossiter has this at 5.5).
BUT, natural 5.8 line right in front of the tree was my choice. A quick trip to Vedauwoo will prepare you for this pump fest; great hands in a meat grinder with poor feet. This variant looks unappealing but really has some good sustained fist crack moves. Exit & move to find easy slab belay.
(Variant 5.9+/.10a: I didn't climb this variation. From comments received & reading R. Rossiter's description, it may very well be a good variant. This variant is located climber's left of the 5.8 handcrack, taking on the arete crest more directly.)
Pitch 7 (5 nothing): solo, simul, or belay, similar to East Face Flatirons climbing, but on igneous rock (good quality rock also), for a couple hundred feet up & left (then moving climber's right - just follow the easy line). We also saw some minute garnet crystals along the way.
The walk-off will appear and be obvious to the right.
Find a bush, take a leak, & a drink; take it all in you just climbed a classic!!
If I left out/misinterpreted anything on the variants, please comment, I'll go climb it again; it's a fine route. I also went to the AAC Library to research printed history, but not much else was offered other than to say something to the effect that 7 pitches of difficult climbing were accomplished on the FA.
An interesting bit of history printed in the Alpinist 16 from Irene's perspective about this route. If it's a classic, who am I to argue??
You can head from the Meadows to Caves CG on the main trail to a right fork, as this is established you can just follow this trail. OR - for a car-to-car outing there is a 4th-class weakness well before the Meadows that approaches this climb from the East. This approach sucks, but does save a bunch of time. There is no trail or landmark for this.
To get down, if you are camping in the Caves or Meadows, scramble down the SW Couloir, Rossiter took a variant to the right (climber's left) that raps a chockstone. There is also another way that has a downclimb, which is not trivial, that empties just below the chockstone area.
OR - go car to car and just hike down the SE Ridge of Disappointment, there is a trail, but not so obvious is another downclimb, but if you can't find it, just use an established short rap station. Then hike out by Amphitheater Lake & trail. This hike out (Amphitheater) is much better than dealing with a bunch of loose scree.