Type: Trad, 400 ft, 3 pitches
FA: George DeWolfe, Robin Wright, John Palmer - 1965
Page Views: 12,330 total · 83/month
Shared By: saxfiend on Nov 16, 2006 with updates from DaveBaker
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry

You & This Route

104 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


Another Stone Mountain classic, No Alternative is a great place to get a taste of the infamous runout climbing here without feeling like you're gonna die! The first half of the climb is like Great Arch -- it'll take all the pro you care to place. The upper half is a different story: pure friction climbing with one bolt 75 feet above the belay; you might be able to get a small cam in under one or two thin overhangs. At 5.5, though, its easy friction and great exposure.

P1 -- follow a left-facing corner/flake to its end at a bolted belay, about 200' (some climbers break this into two pitches).

P2 -- go straight up the moderate face to a bolt (75') and continue another 75' to another bolted belay.

P3 -- continue up easier terrain (5.3, unprotected) to rap anchors below the trees at the summit.

Trivia: the original name of this route was Punt Flake.


At the right end of the Tree Ledge, belay at the base of a ramp that slants up and right to where it intersects with a left-facing dihedral; if you're worried about rope length, you can scramble up the ramp to the corner and belay there for P1, anchoring at a tree. Rap down with double ropes or walk off using the summit trail.


Medium gear on P1; one quickdraw on P2. Bolted belays.
Santa Barbara, CA
mbuntaine   Santa Barbara, CA
Having never climbed No Alternative, we were told to expect some serious runouts on P2 above the main crack/corner system. In reality there are 2-3 overhanging brows that will take a wide range of gear from micro-cams to #1 C4 cams. You are really never more than 25' out from your last piece if you bring a light rack. Not as scary as we were led to believe. Oct 26, 2009
Shawn Heath
Forchheim, Germany
  5.5 PG13
Shawn Heath   Forchheim, Germany  
  5.5 PG13
This was my second gear lead, after Dirty Crack. The first pitch was nice and easy and I placed tons of protection on it and felt like I was pulling a dead body the last 30 feet. The second pitch scared the bejesus out of me. It probably didn't help that it was July and my feet felt like they were melting off the rock, but that first (and only) bolt at 75 feet is crazy. I tried to place some gear in those horizontals mbuntaine mentioned, but watched as they slid down the rope. Then I got to the anchors and looked up and figured the next anchors weren't that far away and kept climbing. I was on a 70m rope, but still ran out about 10 feet away from the last anchors. I got taken off belay because I was so close, anchored, and then couldn't figure out what was going on down below because I was 260 feet above my belayer and couldn't see or hear her. She eventually climbed up to the rope, tied in and climbed up to me. Not good. Don't tie pitches together on this route. Aug 18, 2010
Mike Holley
Boone, NC
Mike Holley   Boone, NC
Great Alternative if the Arch is crowded! Second pitch is comparable to Yardarm with less lengthy run outs between pro. Fun stuff all around!!! Second and third pitches are good for the beginning slabber! Oct 20, 2011
Jason Blevins
Burlington, NC
Jason Blevins   Burlington, NC
If you stay on Route, on (P2) of No Alternative, there is no Protection till after you get past the only Bolt, between Belay Stations!!! There is Place to put in Small Cam's or Ball Nut's, after Bolt and just before the Belay Station at top of (P2)!!! It's alittle runout, but all there for you in footplacing! Apr 24, 2012
Benjamin Chapman
Small Town, USA
Benjamin Chapman   Small Town, USA
Why the name change from the original "Punt Flake" to "No Alternative?" Jan 31, 2013
Jonathan Dull
Boone, NC
Jonathan Dull   Boone, NC
If you want to lessen the runouts on pitch 2, bring a yellow C3 and a .75BD. You can plug the C3 in the first overlapping horizontal you approach about 25-30 feet off the belay, you just have to look a little, there is a small pocket that is a text-book yellow C3 placement, its bomber. You can plug the .75 about 15 feet below the anchors if your feeling a little iffy about the last couple moves to the anchors on that last runout, this placement is also text-book and bomber. Feb 18, 2013
Nate Thompson
Columbia, SC
Nate Thompson   Columbia, SC
P1 - Thorns are growing in the crack as of May 2016 so watch out for that. Great pro spots with absolutely bomber feet here and there along the way

P2 - Fun friction stuff, the 5.5 rating may be slightly sandbagged. It is a good intro to friction climbing though. There are a couple of good eyebrows to place in between the two bolts as well, so don't be too intimidated by this section. I used a small nut and a .3 or .4 cam in a couple of places.

P3 - Obviously very easy and no real need (or anywhere to place for that matter) pro up to the final anchors. Though I would suggest using the final belay station. Apr 29, 2016
There's huge tree that is about to topple over on tree ledge about 15 ft left of no alternative. Apr 18, 2018
P1 had a fair amount of thorns growing out of the crack. Apr 18, 2018
Durham, NC
DaveBaker   Durham, NC
Oh my God! The thorns!!

I submitted some page corrections. P2 and P3 are just over 35m (120 feet) each. Rope stretch was enough to let us rappel on a pair of 70s (with very little to spare), but as was noted you cannot link to climb them on a 70m.

P1 takes all the gear in all the sizes that you want to throw at it. I could have used the #4 I left at home, only had one #3 but could have used two. I brought extra #2s (5 total) in case we got on the arch and I placed them all. In the middling sizes I placed both #1 and probably both 0.75. In the small size, I placed all the way down to a 0.2. So, sure, you have to carry it on the next pitches, but bring everything you have plus all of your runners if you want to sew it up.

P2 took a 0.3, then the bolt (we thought a locker quickdraw was a wise idea), then #1, then 0.75. The 0.3 placement is hard to find - look about eighteen inches left of where you think it should go.

P3, as noted, takes no pro. Don't look down.

P.S. The thorns are real. Nov 4, 2018
Shane Rosanbalm
Chapel Hill, NC
Shane Rosanbalm   Chapel Hill, NC
OMG! The run-outs!

Some 20 hours removed from leading pitch 2 and I'm still full of adrenaline. I'd lead Block Route and Great Arch previously, and I'd followed U-slot earlier in the day. I thought that gave me enough mental training to be ready for the challenge, but I was wrong. I spent the entire 120' taking forceful exhales and trying not to look down. I managed to keep it together but my mind and my calves were completely shot once I clipped the anchors.

I'm pretty sure I'd do it again (once my calves recover), but I might buy me some Mythos first. Nov 5, 2018
Garrett Logan
Hickory, NC
  5.5 R
Garrett Logan   Hickory, NC
  5.5 R
Climbed this on 11/10/2018. P1 crack has several sections where there are rotting trees/briar patches growing in the crack. In these sections you are forced to either climb the friction beside the corner... which would be much much harder than 5.5.. or lightly pull on the trees/roots and hope they don’t pull out of the crack. Needless to say sketchy climbing at the least. Nov 11, 2018