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Routes in Whitney Portal Buttress

Beckey-Callis T 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b A2
Gangway T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Ghostrider T,S 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Mean Streak T 5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b A1 R
Nimbus T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b PG13
No Country For Old Men T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Tanager (aka "5.11 Crack") T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Trivial Pursuit T 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
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Type: Trad, Sport, 800 ft, 8 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Mike Strassman, Raleigh Collins, Mark Husbands, Charles Byrne, and Jackie Carroll
Page Views: 14,125 total · 98/month
Shared By: ttriche on Dec 27, 2006
Admins: Aron Quiter, Euan Cameron, AWinters, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Portal Road Closure Details


Great route -- well-protected face cruxes and some wild, varied trad climbing on pitches 1-3, transitioning abruptly to sport-bolted knob pulling for the next 5 pitches. You can leave your packs in the bowl atop P4 if you plan to rap the route, since you will pass by here on the way down and won't need the gear after this point.

P1: tunnel through a bizarre chimney to a two-bolt belay, 5.9.

P2: tightly bolted face climbing (5.10c) to a wide crack (5.10a).

P3: wild, airy underclings protected with multiple big cams (5.10a) culminating in a small bolt-protected roof (5.10a). This pitch is the reason you should ignore the Satoris start variation!

P4: face climb past 4 bolts to a large bowl-shaped ledge (5.8).

P5-P8: bolted knob pulling for 4 solid pitches of carefree sport climbing (5.9, 5.9, 5.10a, 5.10a or 5.10c variation to the right).

Descent: rap the route (see topo for most efficient sequence).


Satoris (5.8) joins this route at P4 but you miss the fun of P3, which is one of the highlights of the route. Bring wide gear.

Wonderwall P1 was used for the FA, giving one pitch of runout 5.9 to a short linkup at 5.7 below the 5.10c bolted low crux. This avoids the fun tunnel-through on P1.

Rumor has it that MS and an itinerant grad student are planning to bolt a finish to all this...


A full topo with more beta can be found at (Mike Strassman's site).

Look for a cairned turnoff from the hiker's trail beneath the buttress, and head up to the start under Satoris.


Draws for P4-P8, full trad rack (multiple #4 and #5 Camalots helpful on P3) for both Ghostrider and Satoris start variations. Unless you plan to summit via Wonderwall or Satoris, two 60m ropes are MANDATORY to rappel the route!
toddgordon Gordon
Joshua Tree, California
toddgordon Gordon   Joshua Tree, California
I would like to add my two cents worth. I found the crux pitches harder than I expected (felt like 5.10d to me, and the undercling was tough too!)), and the top face pitches seemed to go on forever. Still, a very good adventure, and a worthwhile climb with a short approach. And you can have a burger and fries at the end of the road resturant too when you get done! Jan 20, 2007
Darshan Ahluwalia
Petaluma, CA
Darshan Ahluwalia   Petaluma, CA
Don't be intimidated by the Grade rating of this climb; this eight-pitch climb is much shorter and less demanding than those Grade IV's found in Yosemite (in fact, in my opinion this route is a Grade III unless summitting). The cracks protect well and the face pitches are well-bolted and in addition go extremely quickly. Also, the huge ledge half way up the route makes for a great place to kick off the climbing shoes, rest, and have lunch.

Due to the above reasons, this is an excellent climb for those wanting to do a longer route that haven't yet done so. The short approach and brainless, non-committing descent (rappel the route), also add to the friendly quality of this route.

In my opinion, pitches two and three--the best pitches by far--should be combined. This makes for an awesome, strenuous, and long pitch with both cruxes of the climb (10c face and 10a roof traverse) combined in one pitch.

I would love to go back to this route again! Feb 26, 2007
Darshan Ahluwalia
Petaluma, CA
Darshan Ahluwalia   Petaluma, CA
Another option for starting Ghostrider is via the first pitch of Gangway. 4 bolts, some gear. Wandering face to a two-bolt belay at a ledge. Mar 7, 2007
Bruce Willey
Bishop, CA
Bruce Willey   Bishop, CA
Anybody "run" into that weird "bolt" on P-2? Third one as you move past the belay and before rounding the corner. You can't clip it; the eye is too small. Looks like something you'd find at a hardware store. Jun 22, 2007
susan peplow
Joshua Tree
susan peplow   Joshua Tree
Bruce, I saw that bolt and took a photo. Nice unit.


Sep 10, 2007
Russ Walling
Russ Walling
Pitch 1: Topo has 5.6 with some 5.9 at the top. Don't be fooled. The 5.6 must be the walkup, and in the chimney is at a minimum 5.8 and a hassle with a pack. Great pitch though, and worth doing. Once you exit the chimney, it might be 5.4 to the station. Chimney takes good pro in the back using 2.5" to 4.5" cams. It protects well and is nothing to be worried about. Anchor is a 1/4" bolt and a fairly old 3/8 bolt. Back it up with a large stopper out right. Bomber!

Pitch 2 & 3: String these together for sure. The moves to pass the bolts are pretty hard, right away. Topo shows 4 bolts in that section, but there are actually 3, with the top one the weird 1/4" guy that is not really needed. A 3.5" cam protects the transition from face/layback to crack. Easy laybacking leads to another bolt and the nice undercling. A couple of long runners is all you need. Pro in the undercling is 4" at the start and gets smaller. Use a 2.5" cam to get set for the roof moves. A bolt protects the moves over the roof.

Pitch 4: Easy and short. Maybe 5.7 with a few bolts. A bolt protects the hardest move, just before getting onto the big ledge.

Pitch 5 and onward: Start on the top of the pillar.... follow bolts upward. No real cruxes on the 5th, 6th, or 7th pitches. Maybe 5.8+, not 5.10. 7th pitch use a long sling on the second to last bolt.... it zigzags a bit. Pitch 8 starts out easy and then has a small boulder problem that is probably 10a minus. We went left and it was easy past this to the anchor.

6 raps with two 70m ropes to ground, following the route.
7 -8 draws
7 - 8 long slings/draws
few Med to Large stoppers
1ea 3/4" - 1.5" cams
2ea 2" - 3" cams
1 #3.5 Camalot
1 4" Cam
1 #4 or #4.5 Camalot (for first pitch if you push cams) Sep 12, 2007
Scotty Nelson
Scotty Nelson   Boulder
RIP Michael Strassman.... Sep 14, 2007
Russ Walling
Russ Walling
While we are handing out R.I.P.s, I'll toss one in for Raleigh Collins too.... this route really is becoming a "ghostrider". Sep 14, 2007
Tanager can now be done as another alternative for a first pitch. Might be the best start of them all. (See Tanager for specifics). May 6, 2009
As stated above, definitely string pitches 2 and 3 together. It's not only more fun, but it skips an awkward belay. Also, the first pitch of the knob climbing has what looks like a 2-bolt belay after only about 50 feet (not indicated on the topo). Don't stop here, it's pointless. Also, thanks to anybody who was involved in bolt replacement on this route. The belay at the top of P1 currently sports a nice shiny bolt in place of the old junker; two good bolts now reside there. Oct 4, 2009
Just a note on gear: Reading the above description I brought way too much wide stuff. A good rack would be a single set of cams to #4 C4 with doubles on #3. The roof traverse is mostly 3 camalot. Aug 14, 2011
J Smith
J Smith  
As everyone else has stated, definitely link 2 and 3. I found two C4 #4 cams useful, had two C4 #5 cams and never placed them, dead weight.

The last four pitches after the ledge have been described as "carefree sport climbing" and in the guidebook as "heavily bolted" face climbing. At best I would describe them as adequately bolted, with 8 or less bolts per 150+ft. pitch, you could be looking at quite the fall. Granted if you have made it this far you probably won't fall..... Sep 5, 2011
Jeff Mahoney
Santa Barbara, CA
Jeff Mahoney   Santa Barbara, CA
Haha, probably should've read the description before jumping on this. If you're 6' or taller, and/or a bit wide in the shoulders, be ready for a battle in the tunnel. (And probably a good thing to take more than one #4 & #3 -- unless you like inching them up for 50+ feet of awkward.) Oh, yeah, and a lot of the "x"s on the topo are merely for decoration... Aug 23, 2012
Richard Shore
Richard Shore  
Quality line. 2x #3 camalot, 1x #4 is perfect for the undercling. The knob pitches up top become monotonous and less fun after a while.. especially when your toes are already hurting from the endless knobs AND you endure a mostly hanging belay atop P6. Sep 17, 2012
Ryan Gittins
San Diego
Ryan Gittins   San Diego
Classic route. Linking 2 & 3 makes for an incredible pitch of full value climbing. The traverse under the roof is definitely wild. As others mentioned, I wouldn't call the upper pitches tightly bolted, as I couldn't seem to find many of those x's either, but the climbing is never hard, especially after what came before. A must do. Sep 23, 2013
Connor Newman
Reno, NV
Connor Newman   Reno, NV
Just an FYI, the bolt protected pitches can be run out. Unless we were off route, the fifth pitch (when combining the 2nd and 3rd pitches as described in many posts) only has three bolts on it in what seemed like over 100 feet of climbing. The climbing is easy, probably 5.4 or 5.5, but you could definitely take a long fall if you botched it. Just keep following the biggest knobs and you'll find the bolted belay. Jun 3, 2014
Daniel Vakili
Los Angeles, CA
Daniel Vakili   Los Angeles, CA
I did a rope solo of this and slept overnight on the party ledge.
Observations aka SPOILERS:
i built a gear anchor at the party ledge, as there were no convenient bolts. 2 #2 camalots over a bush do the trick.
I brought a #5, #4, #3, and #2 with me and was able to essentially leap frog them the whole way up the chimney in good style.
It is EXACTLY 60m from the belay the top of the chimney to the ground below.
It is EXACTLY 60 from the bolts after the undercling traverse to the big ledge above tanager, and EXACTLY 30m from the tanager ledge bolts to the ground.
It is less than a 30m rappel from the party ledge to the bolts after the undercling traverse.

EXACT gear recommendation.
#5 (I have a purple trango cam I call #5)
yellow alien if you want to sink a bomber piece right before you pull the roof after the undercling traverse. If you'd prefer to be light, it's totally safe without; there is a bolt just past the roof.

5 quickdraws up to the party ledge. bring dogbones and utilize cam biners to fill them out past the party ledge. a thin biner will be necessary for bolt 3 on the second pitch. or put a wire nut through it.

WETNESS occurs in the chimney, and in the undercling and roof. It be wet.

The chimney is good climbing. I had trouble with it the first time i tried, so I practiced climbing chimneys. Now it feels as comfy as a couch. Fear not the unfamiliar. Jun 5, 2015
Julian Kuettner
Mammoth La
Julian Kuettner   Mammoth La
Nice to have taped ankles on first tunnel pitch. Topo shows bolts directly above belay on third pitch but they are to the right so don't go straight up above the dike but traverse on the dike to the right a bit. Long runners for bolts on the finish of 3rd pitch reduce rope drag. Mar 31, 2016
No anchor at the top of pitch two per the topo we had and not from what I could see. I wasn't planning on linking pitch 2 and 3 but had to anyways (due to the absences of anchors on pitch 2). Had to bump a 3 across the roof. Talk about wild and airy! Don't be like me make sure you have 2 #3's and #4 for the roof traverse. Yellow alien at the roof moves was crucial for me and my lack of planning. Great climb!!!!! Sep 10, 2017
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Super fun route with a trivial approach, fast descent, and great climbing.

P1 - We did the standard chimney start and found it enjoyable (for a chimney) and well protected. I mostly just pushed a #5 up the crack and dropped in a #3 or #4 at times in the narrow sections of the crack on either side. My partner had a pack and hung it between his legs and it was no problem.

P2/P3 - We didn't link pitches, but should have. The gear for the intermediate belay is not great. When I discovered the available gear, I wanted to keep going but had already placed most my wide gear. With some backcleaning, it would have been easy enough to save the needed gear. The moves through the bolts are hard... probably pushing 10d IMO - but safe enough once you clip the first bolt and fun. Gear through the next 40' to the mini-roof below the intermediary belay ranges from #3 to #5 camalot in size. Either be bold(ish) and save your big pieces for later, or do some back cleaning as required to save gear for the later traverse. As others have mentioned, a #5 camalot goes in perfectly to start the crux traverse. Personally, I think it would be pretty scary without it. Presumably you've already left a #4 or #3.5 down lower, so one #4 and then 2 (or 3) #3 camalots across the traverse would be fine for your average climber like me. The feet were surprisingly tough on the traverse - definitely not a gimme 10a. As others have mentioned a nut or small cam to start the roof, and then a welcome bolt.

P4 - The dike roof was a fun 5.8 move. The bolt will reveal itself at the last minute, you can't see it from the belay. But head right....

P5-P8 - Miles of great knobs. If you are accustomed to Joshua Tree/Yosemite slabs, you'll find bolting adequate and just spaced enough to keep your attention. If you are new to slab climbing, you'll be terrified.

Descent was fast and efficient. We just did a short 3rd class belay from the left to the hidden anchors climbers-left off the big ledge.

Gear: I was very happy to have 3 x #3 camalots, 1 x #3.5 camalot, 2 x #4 camalots, and 1 x #5 camalot. Even with all that, many people may want to back clean a piece from the 30' wide section above the bolted crux if linking P2 and P3. For the rest of the rack... set of nuts, single set of cams to #2. Jun 2, 2018

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