Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

Routes in Upper Spire

Arete Route T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13
Beast of No Nation T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Burnt Offerings T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Cabin Fever S 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Char Broiled T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b PG13
Crispy Critters TR 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Desperado (Roof Variation) T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Dot to Dot T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Fear of Flying T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Gingerbread T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Harrison Direct Variation T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a PG13
Holy Smoke T 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a
Jugs Revisited T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Lesbian Love S 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Necklace Traverse "direct" T 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
North Ridge T 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b
Robert's Aid Crack T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Smokehouse Brown T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Steppin' Stone T 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c
T-Bone S 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b R
Thanksgiving T 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Up for Grabs T 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Order Wrong? Sort Routes
Type: Trad, 2 pitches
FA: Joel Moorem, Dale Zgraggen, 1975.
Page Views: 10,187 total · 70/month
Shared By: Blitzo on Sep 10, 2006
Admins: Aron Quiter, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

130 Opinions

Your To-Do List:

Add To-Do · View List

Your Star Rating:

     Clear Rating

Your Difficulty Rating:

-none- Change

Your Ticks:

Add New Tick
Access Issue: Dirt road winter closures Details


Climb a 5.7 flake to the upper corner, follow the corner (5.9) to the Lower Platform.

Can be done in one pitch with considerable rope drag.


Right side of the south face of the Upper Spire.

Rap off back side, 80 feet. The rap anchor is not the bolts that are most obvious - it's is just below the lip on climber's far right (toward the wall the goes to the true summit).


Pro to 3in.
Oakland CA
caughtinside   Oakland CA
best line I've done at the spires! Mar 8, 2007
Dan Osman onsight free soloed this and thought it was sandbagged.

So did I when I did it with a rope. There is some secret beta though that I found later on that helps.... Mar 10, 2007
Oakland CA
caughtinside   Oakland CA
The old guidebook called it a .9+. I thought it was pretty sustained, you could probably get away with calling it .10a. Good fun. Mar 13, 2007
Ol Toby
Ol Toby   CA
Technical, delicate, superb! A true classic at the grade. I prefer to link the corner into one long pitch with runners at the bottom. Feb 8, 2009
PumpkinEater   Sacramento
.10a in my opinion. Either that or I was tired, or my shoes were too loose, or I was dehydrated, or my trick shoulder was acting up. Jun 24, 2009
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
This route is fantastic and incorporates so many facets of climbing technique.

Climb it as one pitch!!!

The gear recommendation of pro to 3" baffles me. You certainly do not need anything over 1". Also, be sure to take plenty of very small cams (that would be < #0.3) and very small nuts. Sep 8, 2009
There's a reason someone told me this route is "one of the best at the Spires." Fun and thought-provoking climbing through most of the climb, with the corner being the obvious crux.

I found this climb to be both technical and physical, as you're smearing your feet on tiny divots and pushing your body into the corner with constant body tension, or at least that's how I did it; some of the finger slots were too small to really stem up the corner so I had to improvise. I'm sure it's just because I'm out of shape but I'm sore the day after climbing this!

Definitely the hardest "5.9" I've climbed. Oct 2, 2009
Oakland, Ca
snowhazed   Oakland, Ca
The first time I climbed this it felt sandbagged a tad- but I say it's legit 5.9. If you stay oriented with your feet more to your left than underneath you and expect the bit of thrutch, feels secure. Mar 20, 2010
Great route! Aug 24, 2010
Scott T
Alpine Meadows, CA
Scott T   Alpine Meadows, CA
Truly exquisite! There is definitly a standout crux, while the rest is thought-provoking and varied. Decent rests give you a little time to decode the next sequence. Apr 11, 2011
Will M.
Will M.   Oakland
w/r/t gear size. If you climb it in one pitch you likely won't need a #3; however, it will come in handy while building an anchor if don't link the two pitches. Excellent sustained climb. Jul 25, 2011
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
I took a friend up this last year and broke it into two pitches since she was a bit out of shape and I wanted to be able to see her on the crux. Still didn't need anything over a #1. YMMV. Jul 27, 2011
So Good! I got stuck for a few minutes trying to figure the crux moves, but pulled it off. Was able to squeeze a #2 in the belay, but didnt really need it. Emphasis on nuts.
Still a bit sore though.. Oct 18, 2011
Matt Twyman
Austin, TX
Matt Twyman   Austin, TX
I read all the comments before setting off but still was rather dumbfounded when I hit the crux section in the beginning of the dihedral. Typically confident on 10s & 11s when onsighting but I took twice in this section. Spooks got me. Definitely funky. Consumed all the nuts I was comfortable sparing. Would have plugged more had I any more. Recommend brining doubles or triples of small nuts.

Linked the two pitches and I'm glad I did. Getting out from under the roof and racing up the last 40-odd feet after being in that funky corner is a real mental release and simply fun as hell.

Recommend a hanging belay instead of something over the ledge so that you can hear / see your 2nd. It was pretty windy when we climbed and there were times I had to duck below the edge to hear anything. Also, depending on the season and time of day, gives you a chance to find shade.

Would have preferred to rap down Lesbian Love and return to the start of the route but for some reason the anchors just have regular hangers instead of rap rings. Understand they're over the edge but that could easily be changed.

In the end, a real joy to climb. Definitely did NOT feel like 5.9, particularly on the lead. Jun 28, 2012
Patrick Mulligan
Reno, NV
Patrick Mulligan   Reno, NV
This may be the hardest 5.9 that I've ever done. I've done it twice now and was sore the day after both goes. Its all there, but is delicate, powerful and technical at the same time through the crux. I thought it was as hard if not harder than the technical stemming on Over the Hill in Eldorado Canyon (10.b) although it is not as long. Oct 26, 2012
Kyle Townsend
Oakland, CA
Kyle Townsend   Oakland, CA
I didn't use any gear bigger than a red camalot, even to build an anchor. Can definitely do in one pitch if you use runners and mind the rope drag. Excellent pitch, probably the best line at Phantom, one of the better 5.9's in the Tahoe area IMO. Beware when rapping, the backside station has bolt hangers with no rap rings, we rapped at dusk and then couldn't pull the rope once we got down. Next time I'm up there I'll install some proper gear unless one of you fine people beats me to it ;) Nov 1, 2012
Los Alamos, NM
Aerili   Los Alamos, NM
Unless something has changed, the backside anchor has always been equipped with rap rings. However, I do believe there is more than one bolted anchor back there...maybe you got on the wrong one? Nov 3, 2012
Ian M.
Ian M.  
Fun 5.9! Definitely thin - wish I had doubled up on the C4s from 0.5 down. Got one #3 in at an opportune spot but didn't need it. Belay takes a couple of #1s. Used a 0.75 on the last 40 ft, I think.

Managed to get the biggest DMM offset nut stuck in the crack at the roof - that thing is jingling around in there but couldn't get it past this one darn crystal! Good booty for whoever gets up there next.

Rap anchor is not the bolts that are most obvious - it's is just below the lip on climber's far right (toward the wall the goes to the true summit). Apr 15, 2013
Colin Brochard
Colin Brochard   Austin
I belayed in an alcove below a roof, with a stance on some big knobs. Seemed like belaying around the corner a little higher mighta been a better call, but I was pretty worn out by the time I got to the alcove. Jan 19, 2015
Rude Boy
San Francisco, CA
Rude Boy   San Francisco, CA
Bring small-medium stoppers to protect the middle crux section. I didn't cuz I was dumb enough to think it would take micro cams just fine.......wrong! I had to run that shit out and was wishing I brought the stoppers. It is sustained which makes the 5.9 rating more of a 5.9+ (whatever that is) or 5.10a. Oct 30, 2015
Michael Dom
Michael Dom  
Long slings, they are necessary if you want to get to the top without carrying your rope in your mouth. What a ride! Dec 13, 2015
Berkeley, CA
rafael   Berkeley, CA
I kept with the tradition and rated it 5.9+ because thats a nice and scary rating, everyone knows (or will find out the hard way) that 5.9+ means hard as all fckff.
If gingerbread (just to climbers left) is a 5.7, this one is 5.9 ha! Mar 10, 2017
Truckee, CA
Nick_Cov   Truckee, CA
Fun route. I only placed one stopper, the rest protects with small cams. No need for anything larger than a #1 camalot. I placed a lot of .3 and .4 C4s. The only stopper I placed was right above the crux.

Fun stemming and movement throughout the entire route. I could see this being harder in the sun! I think 5.9 is fair, the entire route protects well and is sustained. It was a calf burner thats for sure. May 24, 2017

More About Fear of Flying