Type: Trad, Aid, 1000 ft (303 m), 9 pitches, Grade III
FA: July, 1961: Ed Cooper and Jim Baldwin
Page Views: 112,878 total · 509/month
Shared By: Peter Spindloe on Mar 14, 2006
Admins: Mark Roberts, Mauricio Herrera Cuadra, Kate Lynn, Braden Batsford

You & This Route

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Description Suggest change

This is THE route at Squamish. It has is all: perfect rock, great setting, runout slab, stellar crack, strenuous laybacking, delicate face, and many variations.

The first ascent was a 40 day epic, beautifully documented in the film "In the Shadow of the Chief" available from fringefilmworks.com/

It was finally freed at 5.13b in 2000 by Scott Cosgrove and Annie Overlin using a number of variations.

You can get to the base of the Split Pillar by one of the routes listed in the Area description. Merci Me is described here:

P1: From Flake Ledge climb the first pitch of Merci Me (5.7) past three bolts. The first is probably 30 or more feet out.

P2: Merci Me continues up and slightly left into trickier terrain (5.8). Break right near the second bolt and go past a detached flake and then to a two bolt belay right where the wall becomes vertical.

P3: Traverse right and slightly down, around the bulge (out of sight from your belayer) and into the 10b rising traverse. This traverse has good pro, but the feet are poor making it strenuous. Aid or boulder (5.12-) past three bolts to the base of the Split Pillar.

P4: The Split Pillar is a highly photogenic crack comparable to an Indian Creek splitter. It's 10b to jam, but you would need the endurance of a 5.12 climber to layback it. The crack widens relentlessly from rattly fingers to wide fists over about 100ft. 30 more feet include some fun flake and squeeze chimney moves. The belay on top of the pillar is second to none.

P5-6: The Sword is the technical crux of the route with an 11a crux early on. Place a few good pieces before committing to it. Pull out left onto the face above the crux and savour the exposure that might seem to have crept up on you. Easier climbing through a broken crack eventually forces you back into the dihedral on the right for a technical endurance finish to keep you honest. The belay here is in a spectacular position, but it's hanging and can be avoided by linking the bolt ladder above. Slings can serve as etriers for the 8 or 9 bolts in the ladder.

P7: Perry's Layback is a fully bolted, lower angle pitch, which makes it sound like a walk, but many people debate whether it's the crux of route rather than The Sword. Climb efficiently...

P8: The Flats: Several variations are possible here. The easiest, at 10a, goes right along a ledge until bolts lead up a slab to a ledge. A very reachy pull takes you to the belay ledge.

P9: The final pitch is a very honest 10c requiring some tree climbing and then underclinging horizontally to the right around a big flake (The Sail Flake). Once the flake heads up and back left you're pretty much there.

The climb can continue via the Roman Chimneys route, but most traverse off via Bellygood Ledge, a well-named 300 foot traverse to the right. Stay roped up.

Descent: After traversing Bellygood, continue heading right into the forest. The trail should take you to a slab that you can descend hugging the vertical wall. A knotted rope will eventually take you to the well traveled backside trail which will take you to the climbers campground and finally the parking lot.

Location Suggest change

The route "really" starts with the Split Pillar (approaches described in the Grand Wall Area description), but since Merci Me is the minimum mandatory climbing to get to the start, this description assumes you've scrambled up to Flake Ledge (the shortest variation).

Protection Suggest change

Merci Me is runout bolts (up to 5.8) with some small to medium cams and nuts possible near the end.

The 10b traverse to the Split Pillar takes singles of small (finger size) to medium cams and nuts.

The bolt ladders are manageable with improvised etriers and spare 'biners or draws.

The Split Pillar is the gear hog on the route. A double set of cams from off-fingers to wide fists is normal. More if you're going to dog (and you will if you layback), less if you're solid jamming from tight hands to big fists. Save a 1.5 inch piece for the last 15 feet. The final squeeze chimney isn't easily protectable, but hey, it's a squeeze chimney.

The Sword pitch takes mostly smaller nuts and cams up to tight hands. There are a few opportunities for slung horns and a 2 inch cam is optional.

Perry Layback is closely bolted.

The 10a pitch in The Flats is bolted but a small nut and a hand-size cam are handy.

The final pitch takes finger to hand size cams.

A few quick draws and cams are handy on the traverse off Bellygood Ledge.