Type: Trad, 600 ft, 6 pitches
FA: unknown
Page Views: 9,541 total · 66/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Feb 10, 2007
Admins: Nate Ball, Kate Lynn

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Illegal Camping Details


Cruel Shoes weaves a wandering path up the lower face of the Chief, conveniently ending at the base of the Split Pillar. An excellent route in its own right, it also provides a great, all-free way to access the Grand Wall. Expect amazing, consistent pitches of technical face climbing at the 5.10 level, good mixed pro, and immaculate rock. Enough can't be said about this awesome climb.

P1: Begin at the base of the Chief in the corner just right of Apron Strings. Ascend the corner (The Flake) via stemming and chimneying to a belay high up in the corner at a stance. 5.10b. Alternatively, climb the first pitch of Apron Strings (10b), a higher quality pitch up the face to the left of the corner to the same belay.

P2: Continue up the corner briefly before traversing right out onto the face and up a steep, bolted crux section. There is a long runout on this pitch on easy climbing. Continue on to a belay. 5.10d R.

P3: Traverse almost straight right for half a ropelength to the base of a right-facing, right-leaning corner system. The final moves around and into this corner are difficult for the grade (the key to keeping it 10b is to step down at the final bolt without being greedy and trying to clip it - once at the anchor reach back and clip it to protect your second), but the pitch is reasonably well-protected for both the leader and second. 5.10b.

P4: Ascend the sustained leaning corner to a point where one can exit out right and up to a belay at a stance. Sensibly linked into the next pitch. 5.10c.

P5: A committing move leads to a good ledge with a pin and bolt. From here continue up past a second bolt at 5.10+ (tough) and then left or from the first bolt head hard left and then up at 5.9. Both are somewhat run out in places. An excellent pitch. R.

P6: The final pitch climbs up and right via a very thin crescent-like corner. Eventually the route trends almost straight back left to the ledge at the base of the Split Pillar. This pitch is entirely bolted and well-protected. 5.10d (easier if you're tall).

Rap with two ropes or continue on.

Along with Fiddler on the Roof in Red Rocks, Nevada, Birds of Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park, and Stoner's Highway in Yosemite, Cruel Shoes rounds out a quartet of absolutely classic North American multipitch face climbs all checking in at around 5.10+.


Light rack through a #1 Camalot (Apron Strings requires extra finger-sized gear)
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
  5.10d R
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
  5.10d R
Wowzers... great climb! But you better put your dancing shoes on!

The first chimney/crack pitch is fun, and one set of cams and nuts worked out... though it didn't look promising at first. We placed a #2 and #3 camalot on this pitch, so I might recommend a full set of cams from TCUs to #3 camalot. The second pitch transition from the chimney to the slab climbing got my attention. The 10d crux on this pitch felt soft, provided you clip the bolt and step down a ways before comitting to the the moves. This pitch has fairly reasonable protection. The 10b traversing pitch is full value - for both leader and follower. As Josh mentions, it is reasonably well protected but that doesn't mean the traversing falls would be fun and this adds a bit of creep factor to the pitch. The final move on this pitch (literally right before the chains) felt fricken' hard to me and my partner. The 10c corner pitch was technical, but has pretty good protection between the bolts and occasional pieces of gear. We followed the guidebook and belayed at the bolted anchor slightly right of the crack. My partner and I both felt the next pitch was runout. It may be only 5.9, but there are plenty of places where a fall would result in injury. By far the most serious pitch of the route in our opinion. Scary moves up and left of the belay lead to the first bolt. We followed the guidebook and moved left and up into 5.8/5.9 terrain that is sparsely protected. A final bolt sees you to the anchor. The final crux pitch is very closely bolted and has great, technical movement up the steepening slab. I agree with the guidebook that the crux of this pitch is reachy.

The climb ends at the base of the Split Pillar... either continue on or double rope rap straight down via descent anchors (3 double rope raps to the ground). Aug 19, 2007
Evan Stevens  
P. 5 the 5.9 part definitely has a bad fall potential, and I think warrants the R, you do NOT want to fall, you would hit a slab, but it is not that bad, the moves get easier as you get further out from your gear. Just a friendly heads up... Jun 9, 2008
Pitch 1 is "The Flake" - mountainproject.com/v/inter… Apr 13, 2009
Monica Jones
Bishop, CA
Monica Jones   Bishop, CA
Pretty cool climb. Definitly had to get my game face on. Jul 28, 2010
Stu Ritchie
Stu Ritchie   Denver
Don't be fooled by some of the vegetation in the photos, Cruel Shoes is truly a classic slab adventure! Aug 2, 2010
Tim Wolfe
Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Wolfe   Salt Lake City, UT  
Classic slab climbing. This is the best way to do the full grand wall - spits you out right at the base of the split pillar allowing even more great climbing to top off the day. Apr 17, 2011
I don't really enjoy slab climbing, but this was a fun route. The 10b traverse is by far the hardest pitch. As mentioned previously the final move to the belay is extremely hard. We did cruel shoes to the grand to upper black dyke and besides Perry's layback, this was the only place either of us fell. Aug 6, 2013
Josh Janes

Josh Janes    
I climbed this again last week and updated my description. It is indeed R in two spots. The traverse pitch is easy if you skip the final bolt (still well-protected) and step down before moving over to the belay - I can see how it would feel like the crux if you get greedy and try to clip the final bolt before doing the move. Aug 13, 2014
Kevin Kent
Flagstaff, AZ
Kevin Kent   Flagstaff, AZ
I would suggest bringing a long sling or linking a few together to some pro you get high in the initial crack on P2 before starting the traverse. Excellent route! Aug 29, 2014
Ralph Swansen
Denver CO
Ralph Swansen   Denver CO
Single rack to 3" is perfect. Maybe 12 alpine draws. Do not underestimate the easier pitches. The entire climb is amazing and sustained. I disagree that the final pitch crux is reachy, I misread this crux because of that beta and took two falls, as soon as I stepped down and over, I got it easily. At the first, second and last pitch cruxes, step up, clip, step down, over and up (or skip the last bolt on the second pitch after making the move and clip for the follower.) This route is so well bolted, just where they need to be except for the last bolt on the second pitch. Such a fantastic slabby face climb with great position, belays and straightforward double rope rappel. Jul 9, 2015
Matt Hoffmann
Matt Hoffmann   Squamish
Definitely an interesting one. All the holds are there but definitely needs some confidence in footwork.

The Flake isn't much fun, do apron strings instead.

Second pitch was the most fun. A bit runout to the first bolt but after that pretty well protected.

Traverse pitch was great. Not much pendulum potential as there are 2 good cam placements. Last moves were a little tricky, just trust your feet.

10c corner is not great, awkward with fiddly gear.

5.9 pitch is ridiculously runout and not clear where to go (climbed the wrong way and down-climbed twice before finding the right path). The moves are easy but you don't want to blow it.

Last pitch to the split pillar is mega fun with a ton of bolts. Make sure you go right, up and then left (ie. follow the bolts). I set off directly left and got about 8 meters from the belay with no gear before returning to the belay and seeing the line of bolts. Jul 25, 2016