Type: Trad, 9 pitches
FA: E.C. Joe & John Peca (V 5.10 A4) FFA: Randy Leavitt, Tony Yaniro
Page Views: 45,401 total · 345/month
Shared By: m-earle on Jul 6, 2008 with improvements by Josh Gates
Admins: Matthew Fienup, Muscrat, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Romantic Warrior is considered by many to be the crown jewel of the needles. Its long, steep, hard, and by most standards, perfect. The climbing is thin and technical, with thought-provoking cruxes. Romantic Warrior boasts some of the best corner pitches in the country.

P1-10a: Probably the least spectacular pitch of the climb, start up a greasy corner off a ledge, and continue up into the prominent corner. Continue up 5.7 to a 2-bolt belay on the right wall.

P2-5.7: "The Living Corner" Continue up the corner using features on either side, as well as the hand crack. Bolt belay out left on a ledge before corner steepens. Best 5.7 pitch on earth?

P3-10d: Continue up the corner as it steepens. Around the bulge, it eases off and the bolt belay is on the left wall. Short pitch.

P4-12a: Continue up the very thin corner passing a fixed pin near the end of the pitch. Tricky last move. Belay on the small ledge under the roof. Short pitch.

P5-12a: Campus out right, passing a fixed pin, following the crack as it widens and puts you on a massive sloping ledge. Another short pitch.

P6-5.8: Traverse out right, following the crack, eventually down climbing the slab to a flat ledge with a 2-bolt anchor.

P7-12b: "The Book of Deception" Climb back up the slab to the pedestal at the base of the intimidating corner. Stem and lieback past dubious fixed gear(copperhead?) up to a hanging bolt belay.

P8-11++: Continue up the thin corner using similar techniques as the previous pitch. bolt belay on the left.

P9-10a: Climb up about ten feet and traverse out right to slabby ground, ignoring the bolt straight above you. Sprint up the final juggy slab to the top of the southern summit.


Approach by heading down the main gully in between the witch and sorcerer and head left as soon as possible, following the base of the cliff. once below the Warlock, head up, looking for the base of the route(the route is very obvious).

Descend by rapping off the north/highest summit. Possible with a single 70m rope.


Cams: doubles up to .5 camalot. Single green and red

Single set of nuts and micros. Maybe double set of micros.
The route is amazing! I need to return for a more legitimate ascent. Ahem.

Two recommendations:

1. Resist the urge to climb left past the old bolt on the last pitch. Although the pitch is plugged as unprotected easy (5.8-5.9) climbing, it can quickly degenerate into crumbly 5.10- X climbing on a vague ramp and seam in the dark.

2. DO NOT RAP THE ROUTE. I still don't know why we did this. I'm pretty sure you can continue to the highest summit and rap back to the rim. Rappelling the route is a huge pain in the ass at best (near impossible rope pulls, freehanging rappels), after which you have to hike back up to the rim. Nov 6, 2008
Scott Bennett
Scott Bennett   Michigan
One of the most sustained and beautiful lines I've ever had the pleasure of falling off. I wrote up a few paragraph report, but all I'll add here is that the rack given here (doubles to purple camalot, single green and red, stoppers and RPs) is perfect, regardless of what every other topo says. The only place you could place bigger gear is on the Living Corner, but there's plenty of smaller gear there and anyone with any business on the route could solo this pitch.

-Scott Jun 10, 2009
I thought the 11++ pitch (after the 12b pitch) was harder than any of the two 12a pitches. Perhaps due to lack of technique, ...and being tired by the time you get up there... Jul 2, 2009
Thin gear for sure and some HB offsets are handy as well.

Some updates: on the 1st 12a pitch, we pulled a fixed nut out so there is one at the mantel move and a fixed pin below that. On the 2nd 5.12 pitch, there is one pin at the start of the traverse. On the 3rd 5.12 pitch, there is one crappy copperhead and the finishing jugs for the pitch are covered in bird shit. On the 4th 5.12 pitch, there's no fixed gear.....

...great route! Sep 12, 2009
Super route!! What, 1 pro-bolt? Three 5.12 pitches!

Good ratings (e.g. pitch 3 is 10d, not 11b; pitch 8 being 5.11++ is right on!)

I think the first 5.12 pitch may have the hardest move, but the book of deception is LOOOONG and HAAAAAARD.....

We were a party of 3 and rapping was fine by staying well left of the top pitches, on another route, straight down to the left slab belay(after the 12a traverse) and down from there. Although going up and over makes more sense. Sep 22, 2009
Sky Sjue
Santa Fe
Sky Sjue   Santa Fe
Approach note: if approaching via the notch between the Warlock and Witch, double ropes are necessary for the two rappels to the base of the route. A 70 m did not reach the intermediate rappel station. The Witch-Charlatan gully seems like a much better approach regardless.

WOW what a climb. Sep 13, 2012
Ben Lepesant
Innsbruck, AT
Ben Lepesant   Innsbruck, AT
the b. o. d. pitch felt like 13a to me, honestly. for example, the first hard pitch on final frontier is rated 12d and significantly easier while similar in style...

what a route. maybe the best of its length i've ever done.. Oct 6, 2013
Tony Yaniro and I did the FFA of this climb by doing a variation that followed logical finger cracks (pitches 4 and 5) rather than a RURP crack. Though it is technically a variation from the original Romantic Warrior aid route (FA by E.C. Joe & John Peca), we kept the name, Romantic Warrior, out of respect. Nov 23, 2013
Although you can use the approach description in the above beta, I find it easier overall to approach from below, up past Voodo Dome. It is pretty obvious, but steep hiking. Nov 23, 2013
skinny legs and all
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
skinny legs and all   Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
On August 1st, 2006, Michael Reardon made the world's most audacious multi-pitch onsight free solo. He climbed Romantic Warrior without a rope, harness or gear, making it impossible to clip into an anchor or natural protection point if he encountered trouble. Reardon had previously climbed up and down the first easy three pitches, and got copious beta from individuals who had previously done the route and studied photos of it. He said he knew every move before leaving the ground. Michael trained for the Book of Deception by stemming inside of a blank 90 degree corner at a parking garage and staying there until he melted out. After his ascent and downclimbing the six pitch 5.9+ Imaginary Voyage, Reardon said that he had over trained for the climb and that it "was a cakewalk".

Romantic Warrior until this time was said to have had only one or two no falls ascents, though I believe the number is likely higher. Even Peter Croft and Dave Schultz had fallen on it. There is an excellent article on Reardon's ascent in Rock and Ice magazine #147. Reardon returned on September 24th of the same year and re-soloed the climb, minus pitch 7 (5.12b, the start of the Book of Deception) and the final 5.9 pitch because of an impending storm. His ascent is so incredible, that some climbers believe that he did not climb it. There is photographic proof and first hand witnesses of him climbing the 4th pitch's 5.12a tips crack, the 5th pitch 5.12a traverse, and the second pitch of the Book of Deception, pitch 8 (5.11++). In fact, he considered the 5.8 sixth pitch downclimb traverse the crux because of the insecure smearing necessary!

The book Fifty Favorite Climbs has a detailed description and topo thanks to one of the routes first free ascentionist, Randy Leavitt. Randy has always been one of my favorite climbers ever (Hi Randy!), his sport climbing first ascents were ground breaking at the time. I highly recommend picking up this book. Jan 10, 2014
Mojave, CA
ACassebeer   Mojave, CA
Approach: I like walking down around the Necromancer and back up to the base. Casual, 20-25 minutes.

Descent: Climb to the top of the Warlock (or solo) for 2 more pitches. Easily do 3 raps down Ghostbumps with a 70m (60m may be close). Nice new hardware on the Ghostbumps anchors.

Pitch 4: Lockout your left elbow for the mantel move and press it out. Pretend you're bouldering. It's much harder otherwise.
Pitches 7 & 8: As strange as it seems, stemming makes it go down way easier... even if it feels insecure. Placing gear efficiently is the crux on these pitches.
Pitch 9: Climb up 5 or 6 feet then head straight right to the arĂȘte for the glorious jugs on the face. A great way to end it.

I don't know how a route will get any better than this, but I'll keep looking. An amazing experience. Jun 2, 2014
Seems a bit odd to break up pitch 7 and 8. I realize this is how the first ascent was done but it is not really the logical ending to the pitch and given that neither pitch is very long and rope drag would not be an issue at all, why stop? I guess if you are not free climbing then maybe it doesn't matter but the modern free standard would suggest continuing the natural feature from start to finish. Jul 1, 2014
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
Max Tepfer   Bend, OR
+1 for linking the BOD pitches. I haven't done it, but it seems like the way. The belay is at a terrible stance, the first move off the anchor is hard with un-inspiring gear, and the pitches are super short anyway... That being said, seems like it would definitely increase the difficulty to put the two together... Sep 26, 2014