Type: Trad, Alpine, 280 ft, 2 pitches
FA: Gary Hicks, Mark Lewis 1986
Page Views: 2,679 total · 18/month
Shared By: Monomaniac on May 10, 2007
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski

You & This Route

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This brilliant route is the jewel of the Gemstone area, and certainly one of the best of the grade in the Sandias. Every move on this route is engaging; there are no trivial sections, and no sub-par stone. The route offers excellent protection, but you have to work for nearly every placement.

P1, 5.8++, 160 feet. Begin in the 'center' of the Gemstone East area, on a large, sloping ledge, just left of the start of Opal. With a 60m rope its possible to belay 20 feet below this ledge at the trail terminus. Start just right of the largest, and left-most, of three black streaks. Climb up over a slight bulge just above the belay ledge, then immediately work back left to a roof in a left-facing dihedral. Exit the roof on the right, then slab straight up, finding gear in intermittant cracks for 80' to another roof/bulge with a splitter crack. Surmount this fun bulge directly, place your 3" cam, then continue up an ever-steepening, left-trending ramp. The upper half of this slab is the crux of P1, and may actually be harder than any of the moves on P2. Hint: don't forget to look left! A mild runout leads to a very thin, parallel crack that gobbles up a 0 TCU. Unfortunately this pod will not fit gear and fingers at the same time. Ten feet higher a BD Angle Piton protects the crux: a tenuous traverse right on micro edges. Move onto the less-steep slab to the right, then up to the two-bolt chain anchor. Don't be put-off by this crux, as none of the moves on P2 are any harder.

P2: 5.9+, 120 feet. The money pitch. There are three possible finishes. Saphire (5.9?) downclimbs to the next dihedral to the right, and Emerald Hiway starts up Emerald City, but cuts left along a shallow, left-facing dihedral after 30 feet.

Emerald City is the best-looking option, though I haven't tried the others. Follow the obvious left-facing dihedral immediately above the belay. The moves right off the belay are a bit tricky, so beware. Continue along this dihedral as it gradually morphs into a slab with a thin, splitter crack. Generally the crack is only used for gear. The slab offers excellent thin edges, crystal nubbins and other unique features. At various times the route wanders a bit right or left of the crack, and occasionally you will be placing gear at your feet. The crack vanishes just before the end, where a few feet of easier face climbing lead to the 3 bolt chain anchor atop Revenge of the Elderly. Rap as for RotE or Opal.


Center of the Gemstome East area. See photo topo.


Gear to 3", with many nuts and RPs, and a 0 TCU or equivalent. I placed 7 nuts on P2, including 4 RPs (size 4-6). Bring several long slings for P1 to reduce rope drag on the wandering pitch.