Type: Trad, 950 ft, 10 pitches
FA: Jim Bridwell, John Long, Kevin Worrall, Mike Graham, John Bachar, Ron Kauk, 1975
Page Views: 71,842 total · 497/month
Shared By: Alex Shainman on Jul 10, 2007 with improvements by nathanael
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Yosemite National Park climbing closures and conditions Details


Totally CLASSIC route in its own right! Will get you ready for typical El Cap weirdness. All the hardest pitches rely on good bolts and some questionable fixed gear.

P1. Start from the pedestal and aim for the double cracks. Cool opposing crack moves and lots of good pro tapers to a hand size crack with some loose flakes and then a 2-bolt anchor on the right. (5.10)

P2. Jam or lieback (better) the unassumingly awkward flake/crack to a hanging 3-bolt belay under the roof. (5.8)
  • Belay low, away from anchor. Right bolt will be 1st piece for next lead.

P3. Demanding and committing free-climbing with small underclings, shitty feet and hidden pin-scar moves around the roof...Very exciting...Head up to the cool flare and stem up to a ledge through a fun blocky section. (5.11)
  • Gear at roof is one bolt, a sketchy upward driven pin and two fixed wired at the end of the roof (both have very frayed cables and one is about to snap as of mid June 2007).

P4. A face move connects to the continuous arching crack out left (can protect up high in right crack). Follow the awesome tips crack with good pro and lieback/stem your way up and over the bulge and onto a good ledge and bolted anchor. (5.10)

P5. Run it out up the precipitous groove. The groove thins to a heavily pin-scarred seam. Have all your offset nuts and Aliens ready to unload where you can but don't block your fingers! Do a trick move right over the bulge and link a couple more finger pods until you can clip the first of several good bolts. (10)
...Tiptoe out left to clip bolts and a pin using long runners (ignore the pins/bolts that go up and left. Start a rising friction traverse out right past a couple bolts. Stay to the right of the bolt line for a hard stand-up crux move and clip a bolt which probably has a poot-sling on it. From the last bolt, balance through a thought provoking section with a drilled hook hole and blunt knob. Its run out to the anchor over easing terrain and mantles. (5.11)

P6. Friction climbing with some small edges follows a closely spaced bolt ladder (new bolts). At the end of the ladder make a tough move left to an overlap with a good pin to clip. Continue to make exciting crux moves until you can stand in the polished, crystalline dike and clip a bolt. A slippery traverse left finally puts you on a ledge...A very cool face pitch, my favorite.

P7. Jam and stem up a right facing corner and up and over a steep section with some interesting flakes. Set up a belay off gear and pins below the Half Dollar flake. (5.9)

P8. The Half Dollar (the easiest of the wide features on the Salathe and quite fun if you do it right)...Undercling and jam to a stance at the sweeping corner. After a frustrating gear placement, stand-up and twist it up! There is good gear in the corner.
  • KEY BETA: Get your right side toward the corner and stem up and hopefully you can reach jugs on the left wall which can be liebacked as you stem until you can finally jam the crack. Once you are in the middle of the corner/chimney there are different ways to do it. Climb over a big block on the ledge and belay. Make it fun!! (5.10)

P9-10. Can be linked with a 70M or 60M and 20' of simul-climbing...Broken corners to a blocky, rampy
crack system. Bolted anchor at the right edge of the big ledge.

  • Traverse left to another anchor and either start downclimbing or single rope rap to another anchor...Keep downclimbing the inside sometimes wide corner/crack (5.10) or do a double rope rap over to Heart Ledge and the beginning of the double rope rappels to the base...Look around for anchor options on the way down and slightly right.


First ten-eleven pitches of the Salathe Wall route. Left side of the Nose buttress.


Runners and draws. Double set of cams from blue Alien to blue Camalot). Include a set of (offset) wired nuts plus double offset brass (HB's are nice). Tag an extra rope unless you KNOW FOR SURE that the raps are fixed and are rigged up properly! People do weird things up there...


Greg Smith
Canon City, CO
Greg Smith   Canon City, CO
Hey Alex, this 5 pitch really scares me at the beginning, I agree with your R rating (however, i am ususally just impatient while placing nuts!) Jul 31, 2007
Oakland, CA
Sirius   Oakland, CA
I like pitches 1, 4 and 5 best, but each pitch is good. I had HB offsets with me, and though I was gripped I wouldn't give 5 an R rating. The protection reminded me of Poodles are People Too in Josh, small but solid. Plus, even a sizeable fall on this slab wouldn't be so bad I don't think. Sep 22, 2007
I thought this climb sucked I hope the rest of freerider is better.
We did beggars buttress and the rostrum on the same trip both were
way better. Maybe my expectations were too high for freeblast but
considering the location and history you can understand why. Most of
the climbing was forgetable awkward or just plain blah. Aug 14, 2008
Ben Lepesant
Innsbruck, AT
Ben Lepesant   Innsbruck, AT
I wouldn't call P5 R, the gear is thin but pretty good, bring aliens.
The climb is awesome. All pitches might not be 4 stars out of 4 but the location is just perfect, an pitches 1,2,4,5 are consistently amazing! Pitch 2 has some funky fixed gear.
get on it, really good outing when you're back from a bigwall and you aren't up for more hauling and want be on the big stone. Jan 27, 2009
AWinters   NH  
The cable on one of the two fixed wires at the roof of pitch 3 is now blown, the remaining one is still usable. There is also a new fixed .75 camalot on pitch one (dammit). We beat the rain on this one, and had Mr. Leo Houlding on our ass thru pitch 6 where he passed us very politely, climbing like the wind. Jun 3, 2009
Kat A
Boulder, CO
Kat A   Boulder, CO
I agree with the above comments - this didn't feel like it was R rated. The roof has two fixed pieces - an old pin and a decent nut. We found the crux of this route to be the 5.10 slabs on P5 and P6, rather than the 11a roof. Jun 5, 2009
Fat Dad
Los Angeles, CA
Fat Dad   Los Angeles, CA
I believe the 3rd pitch is the only one that likely warrants an .11 rating. Also, almost every other pitch as described here is overrated. The description here makes it sound way more sustained that it actually is. For example, the Half Dollar has a short section of 5.10b getting around the roof. The last two pitches are only 5.8 and 5.7 respectively, not 5.10. This is well confirmed by pretty much every guide leading up to Supertopo.

I'd also disagree with the R rating. Thin wires and cams/offsets, whatever, all work pretty well. A fun climb and awesome for high you get on the Captain considering the amount of work usually required to get 1000' off the deck. Aug 1, 2010
Colin Simon
Boulder, CO
Colin Simon   Boulder, CO
I believe pitch 5 absolutely warrants an R rating. You would take a wonderful cheesegrater.

Offset cams work best, but there is still 5.10 above questionable gear. Jun 1, 2012
Matt Desenberg
Limerick, ME
Matt Desenberg   Limerick, ME
I didn't lead the fifth pich, but my partner had some lowe balls and seemed pretty pysched that he had them. They seemed to fit well when the crack pinches down to a seam. Jul 5, 2012
Will S
Joshua Tree
Will S   Joshua Tree
Gear beta:

P3: The pin that protects most of the business is in really, really bad shape. One half of the eye is broken off/gone and the other half is cracked. If aiding, no problem there is gear available next to it. If free climbing that placement is a crucial hand hold. I whipped onto this pin, and it held, but it's a timebomb. There is currently a fixed wire at the end of the roof, and a blown wire next to it with some hinky rigging on it.

P5: Take offset/hybrid aliens from yellow/green to black/blue, regular aliens, and a set of peanuts and offset brass and you can take the "R" out of p5. Still an exciting pitch. Sling the leftmost (2nd?) bolt on this pitch long or you will pay big time with rope drag.

Last two pitches: Stay to the right for the first half of the first of these pitches, through vegetated terrain (looks less probable and less clean than the left side, but the left side puts you into loose terrain with no reliable pro at one point looking at slopey/loose 5.8 moves and a 30' ledge fall if you blow it)

General impressions:

A really good route, with some outstanding pitches (the p1/p2 link is especially good), but a few of the belays detract from the route. Mainly the top of 2, which puts the climber directly over the belayer with a good chance of falling onto them and/or catching a foot in the belay rigging when starting the crux of p3. P5 would be much better if it were split into two with a belay at the first or second bolt, as it is the rope drag can screw you pretty bad on what is relatively hard/tenuous slab climbing. And the belay below the roof of the half dollar has some old ass pins/fixed nut (you can use gear if you have any left, .75 camalot to #3) and poor stance. Getting into the Half Dollar is sequential and seemed like a giant sandbag...until you find the hidden holds...still awkward.

Fixed lines from Heart (and from top of freeblast down to heart) blow ass right now, every line has at least one knot to pass, a couple with multiples. What should take 10 minutes takes about 30 and the anchors are so clustered that rapping your own lines isn't really an option. Oct 8, 2012
Great climb.

gear beta (for someone freeing it):
I would bring nothing bigger than a single blue camalot.
Totem cams are incredibly useful on this climb
Bigger offset brass and the smaller DMM alloy offsets are useful.

The location of the bolted anchors are not always very comfortable places to belay.

My recommendation:
Lead p1; link p2 and p3
For p4: do not stop at the bolted anchor, continue 15 feet higher and build a gear belay at the nice stance. May 20, 2015
Anthony H
Seattle, WA
Anthony H   Seattle, WA
Had a blast on Freeblast!

Maybe I'm weak, but I thought the 10b moves to get around the roof and into the Half Dollar was harder than any of the other 5.10 sections on the climb.

Also I thought a #4 was pretty clutch to have for the Half Dollar (especially when you are out of gas like me after the 10b moves to get inside.) Nov 13, 2015
bradley white
bradley white   Bend
I climbed it in 86. The fixed gear was original. We switched leads. Top of 4th belay 2 1/4" bolts. I got the 5th led on little stoppers and a fixed rurp for the traverse to 1/4" bolt. Sunny side up for brains I belayed higher on bolts and then did bolt assisted bewilderment of its not 5.9 difficulty. The 5th and 6th there was uncertainty that all fixed gear would hold a fall. The 7th was on of my favorites bc of its setting. 2 quarts. It wasn't enough. We had a gallon at the base and drank it after rap. We had 8.8 ropes and rapping fast the ropes smelled of melting rope. Didn't do that again. The rap stations our ropes didn't reach them but they reached the foot ledges. We had to do unprotected creepy traverses to rap bolts. Dec 2, 2015
Golden, Co
WadeM   Golden, Co
Pin on p3 is no longer viable. The eye hole was blown out when we got to it today May 8, 2016
Jordan Cannon
Bishop, CA
Jordan Cannon   Bishop, CA
Great route with incredible positioning and history. P5 is not runout, although the rope drag is pretty bad if you don't manage you're rope well on the bolt ladder. Pitch 8 was the crux for me, best to get on it before the sun hits because it is slick! Jun 8, 2016
David Bruneau
St. John
David Bruneau   St. John  
Gear Beta: Even for punters like us who plan on falling their way up the Freeblast, a #4 cam for the half dollar is unnecessary. I couldn't even see where you would place one. It can be sewn up with cams up to #3 camalot. This and the pitch before were soaking wet when we did it - waiting a couple days after heavy rain is recommended.

For the groove on P5, pretty much anything besides regular nuts and cams will protect it well. Offset nuts, offset cams, ballnuts and offset micros will all go. Save your offset cams as long as possible, this part is long and only gets harder as it goes. Really cool climbing though. The slab climbing after this caught me off guard, I found it hard to distinguish the 5.8 from the 5.11... Nov 7, 2016
Michael Dom  
Just bring plenty of offset nuts for the scars. The bolt ladder slab is far from fun, luckily the rest of the route is awesome. Dec 12, 2016
Oakland, CA
Sirius   Oakland, CA
Pin on p3 is gone. Now you get to choose whether to try to pro the scar or use the new handhold. Apr 3, 2017
John Clark
San Francisco
John Clark   San Francisco
Offset 0.1/0.2 X4 broken off at head now fixed in middle of P3 roof. Still sews up fine Mar 18, 2019 · Temporary Report