Avg: 3.9 from 58 votes
|Type:||Sport, 1500 ft (455 m), 15 pitches|
|FA:||Jeff Jackson, Kevin Gallagher, Kurt Smith, Pete Peacock|
|Page Views:||68,478 total · 357/month|
|Shared By:||Josh Janes on Jan 6, 2008 · Updates|
|Admins:||Rudy Peckham, MAKB, Hank Caylor, Mauricio Herrera Cuadra, Ricardo Orozco|
El Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path) is one of the most famous and coveted climbs in Potrero Chico - and deservedly so. Visible from miles away as one looks southwest towards Potrero Chico, it is a stunning, sinewy line of clean rock that winds its way from the ground to the top of a prominent pinnacle directly beneath the true summit of El Toro in 15 wonderful pitches. Considering how much vertical terrain it covers, the fact that it not only has very little vegetation or loose rock, but also such sustained and high-quality climbing makes it a truly world-class route. This is the area's king line (with Time for Livin', perhaps, being the queen line).
Some other considerations: During prime season, the wall receives zero sun so it can often be climbed comfortably in warmer conditions with minimal water. On the other hand, in cold or inclement weather conditions can be pretty unpleasant with a constant up-draft of cold, damp air. The approach takes about 25 minutes. The climbing is divided neatly into two halves by a bivy ledge (La Quinta Santa Graciela) which can sleep up to four in relative comfort (bring WAG bags and don't even think about leaving human waste on this ledge). Five long pitches - the most difficult of the route - lead to this ledge, and then another ten - shorter, with more brief cruxes - continue from the ledge to the top. The upper pitches can be rapped with a single 70m rope whereas the lower five require two ropes or an 80m rope and some shenanigans. A common and logical strategy is to climb with a lead line and a tag, hauling a light pack, to the bivy ledge and then leave the bag and tag there while blasting the upper half. There are many uncomfortable hanging belays - a belay seat and/or your approach shoes would be luxuries.
P1 (5.12a, 140’, 14x bolts): One of the longest and hardest pitches on the route. Easy 5.11 climbing for the first half, then hard and insecure climbing up fingercracks and sidepulls for the second half. Hanging belay.
P2 (5.12c, 115’, 14x bolts): The crux. Again easier 5.11 climbing for the first half with a few good rests to a crux followed by sustained climbing trending left on fingerlocks and sidepulls. Hanging belay.
P3 (5.12a, 100’, 9x bolts): Easier than the first and second pitches but still hard. Intricate face climbing up crimps and sidepulls. Stance belay.
P4 (5.11b, 150’, 16x bolts): The longest pitch on the climb follows chossy blocks and cracks. Hanging belay.
P5 (5.12a, 115’, 10x bolts): The Palm Tree Pitch: Sustained tricky face climbing takes you to the bivy ledge. Comfortable belay.
From here, there are still a lot of hard pitches but they are shorter and generally have more brief cruxes than the previous pitches. Put another way, this is basically the halfway point in terms of effort.
P6 (5.12a, 90’, 11x bolts): Easier bottom leads to a cool, short boulder problem pulling the small bulge. Stance belay.
P7 (5.11c, 70’, 9x bolts): Clip a bolt off the belay then drop down and traverse left then back up. There are a few good stances before busting a boulder problem traversing right, across a bulge, to a crack which is liebacked to the anchor. Poor stance belay. Hint: If you do it the way Honnold does it this pitch is 5.12, but there's a trick that makes this pitch much easier!
The next two pitches ascend a beautiful grey slab dubbed "Homero's Finger". Link them to avoid a hanging belay, but prepare for battle.
P8 (5.12a, 110’, 9x bolts): Climb some slightly steeper blocky rock (awesome and a taste of things to come) to a small roof. The crux is establishing over this roof - you can go left, right, or straight up. Climb a sustained thin face on immaculate rock. Poor stance belay.
P9 (5.11b, 100’, 7x bolts): A hard move off the belay leads to incredible thin face climbing on perfect rock. Link with previous (P8) to avoid a hanging belay or next (P10) which is short and easy. Good ledge belay.
P10 (5.8, 40’, 5x bolts): Follow the edge of a vegetated corner to an anchor. Good ledge belay.
The route moves out left here to climb wildly exposed, beautiful red rock that is slightly different in character from all the climbing below but just as excellent.
P11 (5.11c, 100’, 12x bolts): The Kung Fu Farm: Work out left (consider long draws or back cleaning) and then up a cool feature with blocky sidepulls to a roof. Pull the roof on decent holds. Stance belay. Remember you don’t rap to this anchor: Scope out the rap anchor on the wall out right while here.
P12 (5.12b, 90’, 10x bolts): El Naranjo: Sustained, insecure climbing with slopey feet and weird sidepulls on red lichen and dark gray rock. Beautiful climbing that gets the grade because of how relentless it is. Climb to the roof (crux) then do two traverse boulder problems working right towards a crack. Good stance belay.
P13 (5.11a, 100’, 10x bolts): Awesome face climbing up slanting jugs. Sloping stance belay.
P14 (5.10a, 100’, 8x bolts): Climb broken, blocky rock up the left hand arete of the upper tower. Link with previous (P13) or next (P15) pitch. Good ledge belay.
P15 (5.7, 40’, 1x bolt): A short scramble up a tetris of loose blocks to the actual summit. Good ledge belay.
One 80m rope. The upper half can be rapped with a single 70, the lower half requires an 80, but you can get by with a 70 by using anchors on neighboring routes.
Most bolts on the lower half of the route were replaced in the 2000's. Remaining bolts on the lower half, and most bolts on the upper half were replaced in 2023. The route should be good to go for many years.