Yellow Brick Road
Trad, 300 ft, 3 pitches,
Avg: 3.3 from 17
FA: Smith, Clark, E. Laeger, 6/76
> Southern Sierra
> Needles / Kern…
Face traverse (somewhat exciting) into a handcrack splitting the obvious streak of yellow lichen. You will come across the remains of a salad oil bottle as the handcrack widens into an offwidth (lieback this, lest you need a similar bottle), terminating onto a huge ledge. (Rap anchors for a Brian Jonas sport route are at the left end of this ledge if you need them for some reason -- you do not want to be on top of the Wizard in a storm, for example.) The next pitch is the business -- thin dihedral to an exciting overlap. Rap off of some nasty slings (can also do a short rap to massive chains which may reach the deck), then 4th-class out of the notch to top out on the Sorceror and rap from there; or, with two ropes, you can rap the Demon and end up below the Sorceror's Apprentice. Classic route at the grade; I've climbed this route with several different partners of varying abilities, and all were amazed at its relative obscurity. Even among the many fine routes at the Needles, this is a gem.
West face of the Wizard. The route starts at a large bush which is reached by descending a gully from between the Charlatan and Djinn formations; the start of this gully is reached by chimneying through a notch with a somewhat beaten footpath to it. If you screw up and go too far west, you can rap in from any number of points and rejoin the gully. A line of bolts going up and left from the bush is the aforementioned Jonas route, rumored also to be fine climbing. The "Yellow Brick Road" is a huge yellow streak of lichen visible from the lookout, split by the crack system which you ascend.
Cams to 4" (#4 or #5 C4 size is useful in the 30' offwidth section); nuts small to medium are crucial for the dihedral. Aliens are helpful for protecting the initial face traverse and the smallest may come in handy when protecting the pie-slice dihedral, especially if you run low on small to medium size nuts.
Salad bottle on Pitch 2. Legend has it a member of the second-ascent party, while following, lodged his knee in the wide crack and could not get it out. His partner rappelled and ran to the nearby…
Pitch 1, quite a nice position. Andrew on lead
Corner starting off Pitch 3. This took small cams (red-yellow offset and blue alien were particularly useful) and small stoppers (brass offsets were particularly useful).
Roof on Pitch 3.
The offwidth on Pitch 2. It takes #4 and #5 cams (we had one of each, and walked them on lead). I climbed it mostly as a layback and face-like moves using the edges and nearby knobs, and only did a…
The somewhat exciting face traverse at the start of Pitch 1. This can be protected with offset cams, aliens, and nuts.
The base of the route. The start can be a bit difficult to identify but look for this tree. You start Pitch 1 by climbing through the tree.
Rob Beno nearing the top of the crux corner on P2.
Rob Beno following the beautiful P2 tips dihedral
First pitch of Yellow Brick Rd. The climber in yellow has just finished the initial traverse. The route starts in the bush behind the climber.