Type: Trad, 400 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Laeger, Smith, Jaffe (1976)
Page Views: 11,684 total · 81/month
Shared By: bbrock on Feb 22, 2007 with updates from nathanael
Admins: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

116 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


This is a super high quality 3 pitch route around the corner to the right of Spooky. We rapped into this route from the gully between the Charlatan and the Sorcerer. Sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

Pitch 1- Climb slippery slab to a slightly right leaning crack, then straight up to a bolted belay on a small ledge. 5.9
Pitch 2- Crux. Beautiful layback/finger crack. Perfect pro. Move left into the crack via a couple of face moves and launch off on a perfect layback/finger crack. This pitch is short but pumpy. 5.10
Pitch 3- You can continue to the top of the Charlatan or bail off left onto the second Spooky anchors. 5.9


Standerd rack
Oakland CA
caughtinside   Oakland CA
This description seems off. I led p1 up to some flakes, and set up a belay there, just below the .10 crux. There was no bolted belay. Well, there was, but it was 20' away on a different route.

p2 is the fantastic fingers/hands crux, a classic pitch. .10b I'd say.

p3 is ok, just mellow .7. 2 and 3 link easily, which is what we did.

p4 is a fun romp to the summit on fingers to hands. Aug 21, 2008
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
Finishing on Spooky is the way to go IMO. And of course do the summit pinnacle, just to finish it off right.

Also, not to quibble on ratings, but this felt more like .10c to me. Earlier that summer I'd climbed some Valley standards like Cramming, Catchy, New Dimensions, etc., and the .10c just seemed right for me. A great route, and well worth doing if someone's on Airy Interlude, Thin Ice, etc. Feb 5, 2009
Andy Laakmann
Bend, OR
Andy Laakmann   Bend, OR  
Great, varied climb and less popular than some of its neighbors.

P1 - Thoughtful, and at times awkward, climbing up the right trending crack system. The start was wet in late May. The gear is good on this pitch, but I wouldn't send up a noobie 5.9 leader. We belayed at the large flake system just below the crux hand crack. Not a super comfy belay.

P2 - Money pitch. Felt 10b to me. You could throw as many fingers to tight hand cams at this pitch as you wanted, but a standard rack (2 x all cams) sewed it up. You might want to save a 0.5 camalot for the final moves. Although there are chains up and left from the end of the pitch, it is much easy to belay on the grassy ledge.

P3 - Really fun 5.8 climbing to the top, including a spectacular top out! The pitch goes from fingers, to an easy chimney, back to fingers, then hands, and finally a cool roof finish.

Gear: Standard rack is fine, and I only placed one #3 camalot. Jun 1, 2009
Matthew Fienup
Ventura, CA
Matthew Fienup   Ventura, CA  
Here is a printable topo of Fancy Free from Alexander Cooper & Clint Cummins' Needles Mini Guide

Agreed, there's no bolted belay atop P1, but you can belay from bolts atop P2, if you forgo the ledge. Jul 5, 2009
Jeff Dunbar
Charlotte, NC
Jeff Dunbar   Charlotte, NC
I've climbed this excellent route twice now, and of course the classic second pitch was well worth it both times.

On my second outing, however, I was VERY tempted to explore a rumored variation for the last pitch which (I think) climbs the sick-looking, right-facing corner to the right of the original P3.

This corner looks clean and thin and steep at the start, and then the angle eases off rapidly near the top. It looks like it tops out 20-30 ft to the right of the standard finish.

Supposedly this alternate final pitch goes at 10b. To get to this alternate final pitch, it looks like you'd wanna do a very short intermediate pitch (50-60 ft total?) trending up and right from the bolt anchor atop P2 in order to set up your belay behind the huge blocks at its base.

Can anybody comment on the quality of this rumored 10b variation based on personal exprience? Sep 11, 2009

in some ways, the first pitch felt kind of harder than the second. it was wet, whcih made it hard to get to the few gear spots without soaking your shoes, also a lot of the climbing was kind of weird, with bottomed out cracks and funky positioning.

the second pitch is straight forward, although i was kind of surprised when i rounded over the steep part and saw the corner continue for a ways (and decreasing size). great feet on the right wall to make straight in jamming pretty comfortable. this pitch just wants to eat .5 camalots, so be prepared to budget.

third pitch is good also, in its own way. more like a good alpine pitch. Jul 12, 2011
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
The crux pitch was one of my favorite at the Needles. Excellent clean granite fingers. I continued up the last bit of fingers (past the bolts) and belayed at the base of the chimney. It's more protected from wind than the ledge where the bolts are, but also gets no sun. Sep 26, 2011
Colonel Mustard
Sacramento, CA
Colonel Mustard   Sacramento, CA
Nice, long 5.9 pitches and a sweet dihedral crack for the crux! Hard to beat.

On the third pitch, go up a short finger crack and then straight up a chimney system. At the top of the chimney, on a block, you will run into the hidden-from-below, right leaning crack that will shuttle you to the anchors. (I had some friends traverse out right instead of finishing at the anchors.)

The climbing seemed very reasonably graded at 5.10b. As sort of a lame comparison (since I only did the first pitch of it) the first pitch of Atlantis felt much harder at 5.10c to me. If that's Needles 5.10+, Fancy Free doesn't qualify. On my almost-certainly flawed list, anyway ;).

I found the 5.9 pitches adventurous and very enjoyable as well, which is good since they are the bulk of the climb. Jul 21, 2012
Chris M
Hailey, ID
Chris M   Hailey, ID
Although Thin Ice was more continuous as a route, I thought that the crux pitch of Fancy Free was harder than anything on Thin Ice- for whatever it's worth, but I also probably jammed FF straight in. Aug 27, 2012
Paisley Close
Mojave, CA
Paisley Close   Mojave, CA
What a great route!

The bottom part of p1 is still wet and seeping as of 1st August. No big deal though, plenty of other dry spots to use, just be careful where you put your feet!

Super fun climb, really diverse. The 5.9 with some hands and lie backing, P2 the splitter fingers money pitch (yellow and blue metolius/master cams super useful!) and P3 was fun with a chimney and a right leaning crack/flake to a short splitter hand crack at the top. Aug 8, 2013
T.J. Esposito
San Diego, CA
T.J. Esposito   San Diego, CA
Death block atop P1, the one closest to the crack. We "X"ed it, not sure if it'll get washed off. If you pull or even stand on it it will start to tip out a few inches, probably an easy trundle if no people or gear are down below. Jul 5, 2016
Never saw the death block on P1. P1 is pretty good but P2 is the highlight, tight hands to perfect finger locks for me. Oct 16, 2017
Peter J
Ford E-150, wherever
Peter J   Ford E-150, wherever
Death block is still on top of P1 on the belay ledge. It's the flake closest to the crack, and closest to the wall (thus the most tempting to pull on or put gear behind). I slung a huuuuge flake a little further right on the ledge for the belay. Works well. May 21, 2018