Type: Trad, 1000 ft, 8 pitches
FA: Peter Young, John Whisnant, Greg Siren - 1972
Page Views: 17,334 total · 123/month
Shared By: Jeff Mekolites on Aug 26, 2007
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry

You & This Route

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Fathom climbs a huge right leaning dihedral, right in the middle of Laurel Knob, to what some have called the ultimate water groove.

Pitches 1 - 5(ish) climb along the leaning dihedral sometimes using the crack and sometimes using the face. Along the way there are a couple of bolted anchors and a couple of gear anchors. I have heard some say the climbing is no more than 5.6, I have heard others call it 5.9. I think it depends on the line you take. And depending on the line you take you may find little gear. Note: when I climbed this route, April 2006, we came up about 15 feet short of the anchors located at the start of the water groove pitch, so we did some simul-climbing.

The money pitch climbs up through the water groove with bolts for protection. I heard a story about the belay for this pitch...something about a position belay...

From here, the easiest thing to do is rap. Several double rope rappels straight down will lead you to the ground. There are other options as well. One is heading up and right. The other is, I believe, the Hone Ranger finish which goes straight up. I haven't done either of those finishes.


Find the huge right arching dihedral.


Rack: doubles up to 3.5 or 4, long slings, double ropes, water, headlamp, jacket,
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
Second route I've done on LK and it did not disappoint. First three pitches go for 400 feet or so and are no harder than 5.6.
P4 has a few moves on it, but still pretty easy.
P5 is a short traverse to a ledge below the crux pitch. Get gear under the arch and then traverse to the bolt and past it to anchors.
P6 is techy 10-, bolt protected and safe. Placed a tricam or two.
P7 is 5.9 if you ask me and is very fun. Spicy, but protects well, gear in all the right places.

We took a big rack, doubles from Green alien up to BD #3. One 4. If your OK doing 30-40 foot runs on easy ground you could get away w/ much less. DEFINITELY take tricams pink to blue and a few medium and large nuts. Placed a Tricam on ever pitch I think. Oct 7, 2011
Birmingham, AL
BirminghamBen   Birmingham, AL
Single set of cams 0 TCU to 4 Camalot doubled up with tricams to blue and one set of stoppers smallish to large will sew this route up. Take lots of slings and use nearly every piece on every pitch. Nov 17, 2011
Visalia, CA
Pulldownfrenzy   Visalia, CA

Be careful and pay close attention to landmarks on the approach and the descent/hike back. Coming from the Deep Gap TH is straightforward until you get close to the base - then it becomes a rabbit warren of use trails heading up and down which are probably not that difficult for locals but proved challenging for this out-of-stater.

Descending we ended up rapping a short (40 footish) slab to save time to get to the base vs. retracing our steps. Easy, but time consuming and frustrating.

We got off in late twilight (it was late November). No problem rapping off to the base, but even with headlamps blazing on the hike out we became quickly hopelessly lost and ended up across a gap from our car. After hiking for what seemed like an eternity (something like 5 miles up and down several hills) in 30 degree temps we asked for directions at one of the mansions and they took pity on us and offered to drive us the 12 miles by road back to the TH.

Don't be stupid like us. -DD Oct 7, 2015
Oakland Park, Florida
Floridaputz   Oakland Park, Florida
Perfect weekend at Laurel Knob. We had the entire wall to ourselves all day. The approach adds to the big day. Fathom is a nice route. We climbed it this way. P1 it is obvious where to start. Aim for mossy ledge about 50-60 feet up. Slab or stick to corner, gear belay. P2 continue up the slab/corner for almost a full rope length and make a gear belay. P3 another full rope length to mossy ledge, gear belay. P4 slab up black streak, or stick to corner, then exit corner to belay anchors 10-15 feet out right the on face. all anchors are bolted from here. P5 Climb the flake straight up and traverse to the bolt or take the water groove to right at 5.10. We took this. Which is the end of Fathom direct, Which I recommend. both these lines connect at the same bolt, then slab traverse right for 20 feet to bolted anchor which is spicy 5.9. P6 This is the best pitch. Slab up and clip 1 bolt then on to the water shute. 2 bolts protect the 5.10 move into the water groove but the climbing stays stiff with more 5.9 2 more bolts protect rest of the pitch with other pro as well. Many different routes are available to go to the top from here. From the P6 anchors rappel straight down, Fathom Direct, many 2 rope rappels. Oct 20, 2015
Danny Hupp
Nashville, TN
  5.10a R
Danny Hupp   Nashville, TN
  5.10a R
Anyone have detailed information on the pitch immediately after the 6th (crux) pitch? Is the slab traverse to the right insanely unprotected or did my partner and I miss something up there? The way we did it was traverse directly right from the anchor across the roughly 25ft of no-fall-zone, 100% unprotectable slab to the big grey flake and then shoot up through some swampy, seeping water grooves to the top. If this is the right beta, that traverse needs a bolt halfway. If we fucked it up and made it way more R-rated than it actually is, than good on us, I suppose. Needless to say, that pitch alone is the most committing rock climbing I've ever experience. Jun 10, 2017