Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III,
Avg: 3.8 from 33
> Grand Teton NP
> Death Canyon
> Cathedral Buttress
The middle of this route contains several quality pitches, but I feel that it does not deserve its super-classic status because:
1. The approach pitch and exit pitches are nothing to write home about.
2. It doesn't go near the top of even Cathedral Buttress, let alone a summit.
3. It's currently rigged for rapping after the good climbing, making it less fitting for an area of fine summits and creating a potential for big clusterfucks as descending parties collide with ascenders
4. IMMO, at least, cragging in this area of estimable summits is like sport climbing in Yosemite -- it may be enjoyable but it's probably not what you came for and you might later regret not having done something more mega.
After doing this route relying exclusively on Rossiter's description, we concluded we would have been better off with Ortenburger's. We found a wide variation of difficulty among the hard pitches though both guides give all of them about the same rating.
P1: A long pitch. Up slab a few feet, traverse right about 15', up an easy left-leaning, left-facing corner (~5.5) for about 20', then angle up 4th class slabs to a slippery, hard to protect step (~5.5) and a small tree. Traverse left about 20' into an alcove/chimney. Belay a few feet up the chimney, about 5' below a fixed pin in pegmatite. 5.5, 200'.
P2. Clipped the FP, clip a fixed blue Alien (or replace it if it's gone), awkwardly hand traverse right (10-) for about 5', then step up. Try to place a piece at the end of the HT as there is no more pro for a while. Face climb straight up on protectionless rock (~5.7, unprotected, ledge fall potential) for about 15' until you can get a couple of good pieces in a horizontal. Harder, crimpy face climbing (~5.9) about this leads to a long, right-leaning, right-facing corner. Follow the corner for a while until heading right across slabby face, aiming for a ledge by a pillar with a rap anchor A spicey, engaging pitch. 10-, ~130'.
P3: Up a nice crack which widens from fingers to hands for about 50' until the crack ends at a roof. Traverse right under the roof, then jam up and over (10-). Continue up more easily for ~50' until a small ledge with a couple of fixed pins. Try not use your wider pieces at the beginning of this pitch as they are needed for the section of the crack below the roof and in the roof itself. It would also be nice, but not essential to have a #3 Camalot sized piece at the belay. The best pitch of the climb. 10-, 100'.
4. Up slab (~5.7) for about 30' to ledge under a roof, trav R around roof (easy), then up easy R facing corner (1 tricky move) for ~ 40' to alcove at base of crack which leans L then doglegs R. 5.9-, ~100'
5. Up crack to dogleg (easy) then work right in awkward handcrack with crux pulling roof (5.10), then up for a long ways on easy ground to a good ledge with a four piece equalized rap anchor. 5.10, ~100'.
6. Trav L about 10' (easy, no pro) then diagonal up R to 2 # 2 Friend placements and a fixed nut. Face climb up and R from nut (5.10) to vertical crack w/ perfect 1.5 Friend placement and a scary clip. Straight up on easier ground about 20' to a bulge w/ minimal pro. (Easier to get around bulge by trav R ~8', up 10' then back L (ropedrag potential) into corner crack system.) Get good gear to left of corner (yellow or red Alien, FP) then up 5.8 with no pro. Continue up corner crack until ledge with rap anchor 10' above it. 5.10, ~120'.
If your only concern is quality climbing and not "finishing the route", and there are no parties below you on The Snaz, you should be able to rap from here with double ropes. Note: We did not rap. We were told, and it seemed a logical assumption, that a complete set of rap stations exist, but some of the rap stations would be on The Snaz and we did not personally observe them.
If you chose to keep going:
P7: Up corner mostly easy w/ one hardish move to big ledge with tree. 5.7 ~150'
From here, keep angling left and up for a few hundred feet of progressively easier climbing. At some point you may wish to unrope. Eventually you'll encounter a large ledge system with many big trees below the upper Cathedral Buttress headwall. Once on this ledge, head left (west) and down, eventually encountering a rough climber's trail which takes you back to the Death Canyon trail in about a half an hour. The descent trail would be straightforward to follow in the dark, but finding it allegedly is not.
The start is the same as the Snaz. The easy-to-follow climber's trail takes you right there.
We took a broad range of gear, from RPs to #4 Camalot. Didn't place the RPs, didn't need the #4, didn't place a cam smaller than a green Alien (though the start of P2 was protected by a fixed blue Alien.) We had double of cams from thin fingers to #3 Camalot which was excessive in the smaller sizes and barely adequate in the larger. Next time I'd thin out some of the smaller stuff and probably replace the #4 Camalot with another hand sized piece.
Joe Terravecchia on 3rd pitch. 1994
The start of P3.
P6. W/out MP beta, the leader sacks up and wonders if this is really where it goes.
Rob Springer towards the end of P2.