Type: Trad, 800 ft, 10 pitches, Grade III
FA: FA: Young, Marshall, Lawrence, Whisnant (1968-1971 - sieged) FFA: Bob Rotert, 1977
Page Views: 18,643 total · 128/month
Shared By: Jeff Mekolites on May 22, 2007 with improvements by Jeff Stilber
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Falcon Closure Details


Original Route, III, 5.11a or 5.10c, A0.

Approach: Follow the main Whitesides loop trail from the parking lot until a small/vague trail splits off to the right through the rhododendron heading downhill. Follow this trail down until it hangs a left. Follow the trail along the base of the cliff until you reach the "Great Gray Slab". At the right edge of the slab, look for the easiest path up to the tree ledge.

Pitch 1: Climb 5.7 slab passing one, maybe two gear placements, (about 1/2 of the way up) to a tree ledge, 5.7 R/X, 150 feet.
Pitch 2: Move belay left to a large flake. Climb short hollow flake over bulge. Run it out to a tree ledge up and left, 5.8 R, 100 feet.
Pitch 3: Move belay to left end of tree ledge. Climb short crack, traverse right to crack/flake, work up crack until you can step left to a ledge with 3 bolts, 5.7, 80 feet.
Pitch 4: The Sandbag Pitch. Climb very worn/polished corner up to a bolt. Easier climbing leads to another bolt at a ledge. 5.10c, 60 feet.
Pitch 5: Traverse left to a flake then up a very exposed face to a gear belay below flake/corner, 5.7 R, 75 feet.
Pitch 6: The Crescent Pitch. From the belay step right and out onto an exposed ledge, then up into an awkward crack. Continue up until you can step left and up to a bolted belay, 5.8+, 80 feet.
Pitch 7: The Crux Pitch/Bolt Ladder. Face climb or A0 through three bolts to easier climbing then to a hole and gear belay, 5.11a, 75 feet.
Pitch 8: The Traverse Pitch: Step down and work right traversing for about 150 feet, trying to get in some gear along the way, 5.4 R, 150 feet.
Pitch 9: Up from the belay and right to a grassy flake and a fixed pin, 5.6 R, 150 feet.
Pitch 10: Climb the flake, then up a lichen covered face to the summit, 5.6 R, 150 feet.

Descent: Follow loop trail (to the left) back to the car and enjoy a cold beer! You earned it!

Optional Finish:
Climb the last 3 pitches of Traditions:
Pitch 8: From the above mentioned "hole" at the end of pitch 7, follow 3 bolts up and left on a lichen-y ramp, belay on a ledge at a set of rap rings, 5.9, 60 feet.
Pitch 9: Walk left from the belay on a nice ledge to a "corner", face climb past a couple of bolts to a tree and belay, 5.10, 70 feet.
Pitch 10: Climb the path of least resistance until you reach to rhododendron then the summit railing, 5.8 R, 100 feet.


Generally a lighter rack than normal - a single set of cams to #3, maybe double up in the fingers, a few nuts, tri-cam or two, runners and a single lead line.

Note: Most of the route ratings for Whitesides can have an R or X rating added to them. And if the climbing is easy (5.7 - 5.8), plan on it being run out.


Joe Forrester
Palo Alto
Joe Forrester   Palo Alto
The rack could do without the tricams. Also, the 5.4-6 traverse exit pitches really aren't all that great. I would recommend the more direct exit. It will save you some lichen time. Oct 23, 2007
Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
This is a great climb to do in the fall when it's nice and dried out. The approach can be a little muddy and the top of the 5.11 pitch runs with a little water. This climb IMHO is a must do test peice for southern climbers. Apr 7, 2008
Jesse Morehouse
  5.11a R
Jesse Morehouse   CO
  5.11a R
A few clarifications:

P1- IGNORE THE BOLT! Pay attention to the guide book here and "begin directly below the tree on the ledge above" and you will find 5.7 slabbing with a possible gear placement mid pitch. Climbing past the bolt makes it closer to 5.9 slabbing and the pro isn't worth it. Having done both I'd recommend listing to the guide book but heck, if you are afraid of run out 9ish slab you wouldn't (shouldn't) be here!

P4- This is a one move wonder aptly referred to as a "5.9+" move in older guides. The move is right off the belay so place pro high w/a short leash so you don't bounce off the belay ledge if you blow it.

Direct finish- Heartily recommend doing this! It is much better climbing and in keeping with the route. As I remember it, we did the 5.9 past the 3 bolts then generally went straight up on 5.7 ish terrain with one #3 camalot placement in a headwall to the shrubbery at the top. Kind of run out finish but refer to P1 remarks.

A terriffic rout that you gotta do if you are in the area. Jun 1, 2008
Joe Forrester
Palo Alto
Joe Forrester   Palo Alto
Did this one again this past weekend with a 70m. We were able to link P1 and P2 to the tree island, P3 and P4 to the base of the 9+ one move wonder, P5-6 to the base of the "Changing corner's" pitch, P-7-8 to the crux. The crux to the base of the overhanging 5.10- exit pitch, then to jungle fest. Route went pretty quick, 4hrs from base to summit. Mar 22, 2009
In 1974, Peter Prandoni and I did the second ascent of this route - the only one on Whitesides at the time. Peter Young had given us a pretty basic idea of where to start and not much else. On the original ascent, Peter said there were three aid sections. The first difficult corner (with the very loose long spike of rock, the second above it and the bolt ladder on the last pitch. I took out the first aid section, freeing it and Peter took out the second aid section on his lead. We were led to believe that there were far more pitches - most likely I think we tended to do longer lead outs as the weather was pretty horrible with the first ascent guys - so we were quite suprised, once finishing the ladder, we ran it out to the top. Over 1974 and 1975 I climbed it four of five more times and we even spent the night on the ledge in the middle once enjoying a full moon looking out over Whitesides Cove. I never did figure out exactly how to get around the bolt ladder though got it down to using only two and spent most of my time looking left to try and get up that way. Sep 22, 2010
goatdavemac Mac
Flat Rock, NC
goatdavemac Mac   Flat Rock, NC
I know I've read about the variation to the crux pitch, where you can go right and up. Last time I was on the OR, it looked covered in lichen and not well used. Anyone ever done it? Jan 23, 2012
A good intro route to the cliffside. It follows the easiest line, which ends up wandering a bit much for my lichen (hehe). We did it with 70m rope, which isnt necessary. I've heard of people using half ropes and simul-climbing the route, which if I were to repeat it, I would do it in this style. The crux 5.11a stumped me, which was frustrating. I was looking left, but I noticed someone said to look right in an earlier post. Beats me, I just assume a crucial hold fell off. I believe we used a singles rack, no tricams (I have no idea how to use those things anyways). Lots of lichen and run outs with marginal gear, but over super fun terrain. I reccomend finishing on Traditions. The juggy 5.10 finish is fun. Might as well get one more pitch of good climbing in while you are there. Apr 2, 2013
Columbia, SC
rock-fencer   Columbia, SC
Removed a very loose block on P2 after almost going with it. Very typical whiteside route. 10c pitch is not that polished at all and straightforward (i'm 5'10) - definitely lug a #3 up for this one. Crux pitch takes some figuring out and isn't immensely physically hard, just technical positioning. Great route to do on a full moon. took 4 hours car to car with crux pitch done by headlamp. Finish on Traditions

rack used was single #3-.5 C4's, and metolius blue-orange including blue/yellow & yellow/orange offsets. a handful of slings and double 60's

If looking for a more moderate introduction catholic school girls will give you a feel for the type of rock and climbing. Beyond the historical value, this route is mediocre in comparison to traditions or whipping boy which are more sustained and follow more natural lines. Hat's off to the FA's in a time without cam's Jun 23, 2013
1st and 3rd bolts on crux pitch could stand to be replaced. 3rd bolt is a bit gnarly looking. Jun 10, 2014
All three bolts on crux pitch seem to have been replaced. Also ring anchors for P8 traverse pitch seem new as well. May 8, 2015
Boulder, CO
MauryB   Boulder, CO
Climbed the OR based purely on this description and it was foggy at best. Clarifications:

P1: Start at the FAR end of the slab, after the trail cuts uphill a bit. You will be 20 feet or so left of the jungly, wet corner.
P3: Romp some easy terrain angling up and left to a R-facing corner. Climb this corner to its where it is possible to traverse R to another corner system. At the top of this corner step left to a bolt belay on a large ledge.
P5: Finish at the R end of a large ledge.
P6: Pull some airy moves around a bulge, up and right into the R facing corner above. At the top of the corner as it begins to arc right, step out and left onto a ledge with a few bolts.

Also +1 for finishing on Traditions. Very easy/obvious to link P7 into the bolted 5.9 pitch, eliminating that gross belay at the hole. Jan 5, 2016
Dyl Alv
Miami, FL
Dyl Alv   Miami, FL
Climbed this on the weekend of the eclipse and didn't run into a single other party. Although it got pretty warm on the wall, it wasn't bad. Took us about 7 hours from base to summit in 7 pitches, we linked 5&6, 7&8, and 9&10 with a 70m rope, taking the direct route up on the last 3 pitches of Traditions. A couple tips: - P1 felt like it wandered quite a bit, we started to the right of the single bolt we found (separate route?), starting directly underneath the tree. We didn't find any placements but we may have been slightly too far right. We also didn't move the belay at the top of P1 and it worked out fine. - Watch out for rope drag on P3, plenty of long slings and smart placements would help. - The 10c crux protected fine with a #3 camalot. - Linking P5&6 also created lots of rope drag even with little gear and extended slings. - BETA WARNING: I freed the 11a move with a long reach left from the jug below the 2nd bolt to the sloper crimp, great move. Great route all around! Lots of runouts, the rock was generally pretty solid and the climbing was excellent! Aug 22, 2017
I don't remember clipping any bolts on the first pitch when I did it years ago. I remember a horizontal crack for some marginal micro cams which my partner said fell out on its own when he started climbing. Good times. Nov 17, 2017
Trad Dad Atlas
charlotte, nc
Trad Dad Atlas   charlotte, nc
Recommend to be solid at the grade before attempting P4. IMO, it was very polished indeed. I was a newer leader back in Aug 2017 and somehow missed the #3 Cam which is mentioned above before the bolt. I hung out in the corner a bit sussing out the beta to get to the bolt and eventually started to get pumped. Decided to lunge for the bolt clipping hold and ended up decking and breaking my right ankle. As you can imagine, it was not convenient to hike or rap out, but was doable - even with a more serious injury than mine. 2 days ago