Type: Trad, 350 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Tom Howard and Jim Okel
Page Views: 22,192 total · 156/month
Shared By: Danny Inman on May 29, 2007
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry

You & This Route

153 Opinions

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure Details
Access Issue: All climbing routes between and including C.O. to and including Paradigm Shift are closed. Details


P1-(100') Two options: (a) 5.8 : scramble to the top of the large detached block (roughly 20' off the ground) and climb the crack to a belay alcove about 10' above a dead stump in the crack (b) 5.9 : Take the first pitch of Toxic Shock, this is a highly recommended and more direct start that follows a right-leaning crack to the same belay as mentioned above. This "finger-crack" is deceptively steep and sustained for the 100' to the belay.

P2- (100') 5.9: From the belay, follow the crack up a short ways and cut left at the first opportunity to a shallow right-facing dihedral. At this point the holds are jugs and the face is dead vertical, however, as one climbs higher the holds become smaller and the face gets steeper to just past vertical. The face begins to turn back down just below a small roof, pull the roof on monster jugs and head to a large ledge to belay. This pitch is definitely in my top 5 of the best 5.9s that I have done anywhere.

P3- (150') 5.6 Climb a short headwall and follow the least lichenous way to the top.


From the bottom of the descent gully take a right and follow the trail to the base of the cliff at the first opportunity. The route begins either just left of or on top of a large detached block with some rhodo growing between it and the wall.


Standard rack up to #2 Camalot. Emphasis on finger-sized cams.
Rob Dillon  
The Duck rules!

Toxic Shock is a pretty good way to start, if you're both leading 5.9.

A 60m got me to the top on p2 last time, but I could feel it. May 30, 2007
Nick Stayner
Wymont Kingdom
Nick Stayner   Wymont Kingdom
I've never placed a piece in the "finger crack". Great horizontals every few feet! Jun 5, 2007
Jeff Mekolites
Jeff Mekolites   ATL GA
I saw a quote online supposedly from Doc Bayne...something to the effect of "if that thing was anymore 5.9, it would be 5.11..." Oct 10, 2007
Luke Alford
Atlanta, GA
Luke Alford   Atlanta, GA
That was absolutely an awesome route, definitely a must do for Shortoff. I also liked toxic shock as an aesthetic first pitch, though many folks seem to disagree. Jeff, thanks for catching that shot of me taking the ride. That's the best looking picture I've ever seen of me climbing, err... falling. Nov 19, 2007
Jeff Mekolites
Jeff Mekolites   ATL GA
Luke, I have more pictures from that weekend...I will get a disk to y'all. Nov 19, 2007
Mike Flanagan
Redlands, CA
Mike Flanagan   Redlands, CA
Amazing route. It's a shame I didn't get out to do it sooner. Mar 26, 2008
thanks for the toxic shock suggestion for the first pitch. it was really nice. the whole route was amazing. Nov 3, 2008
cshuey77 shuey
cshuey77 shuey   Asheviile,nc
N.C must do!! May 27, 2010
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
Can't believe it took me so long to do this thing. Excellent!

We did it in two pitches to the big ledge and then soloed the last "5.6" pitch. No real 5.9 moves on this climb, but it sure packs a pump. We did the Toxic Shock start which also felt more like stiff 5.8 to me... either way, a 5.8 climber would probably not do well on the second pitch, hence the 5.9 grade. Oct 21, 2011
I agree with Ryan's last post. I was sort of nervous about climbing it because of all the talk about the rating being possibly sandbagged. I would call it 5.9 for the pump. Toxic shock was an awesome suggestion for the start, great crack to climb up. Entire route takes good gear and was the best climb I did at the gorge. Nov 16, 2011
Dustin Stephens  
Spectacular! Jul 27, 2012
Mike Holley
Boone, NC
Mike Holley   Boone, NC
Phenomenal Route! If you have a chance, get on it! This route has got it all, super fun from beginning to start. The second pitch is fantastic, no shortage of great holds and excellent placements, though making placements will surely pump you out so plug and go! Great exposure, great pro, great moves, Great Route!!

Make sure to bring a handful of c3's for the second pitch!!

  • *Must DO**
Sep 16, 2012
Raleigh, NC
sanz   Raleigh, NC
Fun route. No hard moves, but for a while, those horizontals aren't quite as juggy as they look! Definitely packs a pump. Also recommend the Toxic Shock start. I do disagree that this is "the" 5.9 at Shortoff... I thought Construction Job was better. Nov 5, 2012
Neil Rankin
Winston-Salem, NC
Neil Rankin   Winston-Salem, NC
Do the more aesthetic first pitch of Toxic Shock to the ultra classic 2nd pitch of Dopey. Apr 22, 2013
Drew Hayes
Charlotte, NC
Drew Hayes   Charlotte, NC
I find myself daydreaming about this route all of the time. The second pitch is absolutely perfect rock climbing. May 28, 2013
Here and there.
Shadrock   Here and there.
I had the pleasure of climbing this behind a party that included first ascensionist Tom Howard, who's known for several other area classics as well. It was amazing to hear about the on-sight style this was established in: really humbling to consider the vision and commitment that took when you start up the crux. Unfortunately, even Tom can't remember what the name was referring to... Really cool to get some deep history and inspiration seeing some of Shortoff's original crew still getting out: thanks, Tom! Oct 27, 2014
Thomas Skinner
Birmingham, AL
Thomas Skinner   Birmingham, AL
Left a #1 C4 and biner at the top of P2. If found and you feel like sending it back please email me @ tskinner@gru.edu . Best 5.9 pitch around get on it!!!!! Mar 26, 2015
Stan Pitcher
Stan Pitcher   SLC, UT
Looks like a sweet route!

vimeo.com/123870988 Apr 7, 2015
Ben F
Benfield, Kolorado
Ben F   Benfield, Kolorado
P2 is one of the best 5.9 pitches anywhere. It is on par with the 9 on Walt Bailey (DT) and the 9 on the Center Route (S. Platte). Its exposure is excellent. Jul 18, 2015
Gary Wheaton
Lexington Park, Maryland
Gary Wheaton   Lexington Park, Maryland
A quick rappel to the top of pitch two you can set up a bomber anchor and top rope Toxic Shock straight in to pitch two of Dopey Duck from the ground up with a 70 meter rope. You know, if you're a weeny and the sustained climbing and exposure prevents you from leading Dopey Duck. Oct 4, 2016
Winston-Salem, NC
Benandstuff   Winston-Salem, NC
We did it in two pitches with a 70M. Was able to reach a small tree near some good horizontals in one go from the regular belay. Nov 14, 2016
Sean M
Sean M  
One of the best 5.9s I've ever done!

Toxic Shock start pitch is the way to go, its not too bad at all and has solid gear with cool moves.

2nd pitch can seem hard to read because there's so many options! Jug haul and try not to get pumped out before it eases up! Good gear as well.

3rd pitch is a garbage scramble, but worth the price. Feb 13, 2017
artem Vasilyev
New York, NY
artem Vasilyev   New York, NY
Bring .3 and smaller cams for the crux of p2. Can probably leave your #2 Cams - only placement for them is on the hanging belay option - and the horizontal has rotten rock on the bottom half anyway.

Toxic shock start is the way to go - don't bother with the 5.8 start to the right.

Can't understate the pump. Would give most 5.12/5.11 sport leaders a death pump. Place gear while shaking out on all the jugs - if you're placing on a small hold then you are doing it wrong. Build a hanging belay if you want some sweet pics, but you can just continue upwards to link the last 30 feet of 5.6. My partner and I unroped for the remaining 60 - 80 feet after reaching the large ledge, 5.4/5.5 climbing at best.

Heady V0/V1 boulder problem when moving left and up through the orange rock at the start of p2 - decent pro can be found to protect it in between two quartz crystals right before the start. A whip here would be crappy, so have a good head when moving through this section. Though you could probably climb higher right and traverse left at a higer spot - but that would detract from the route imo.

Video of the P2 crux: vimeo.com/246312081 Dec 7, 2017
Michael Atlas
charlotte, nc
Michael Atlas   charlotte, nc
Did Toxic Duck yesterday and it was awesome. Well worth doing P1 of Toxic Shock over the wandering original start to Dopey. Built the P1 belay about 10-15 feet above a small (alive) tree in some good horizontals, which put us about 10 feet away from the traverse start of P2. I've led clean P1-3 of dopey duck and I gotta say that P2 may be harder as a follower who had a backpack and is cleaning gear (including nuts), as I almost pumped out. Built the P2 belay in a crack right as you begin to see the final short headwall. As noted above, P3 is a garbage scramble, but IMO would be a good lead for a new leader who may not be quite up to doing P1 and P2 of Dopey. P3 is probably 5.6/7ish Dec 30, 2018