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Looney Binge

5.12c, Sport, 150 ft,  Avg: 4 from 22 votes
FA: Alf, Marty Lewis, Jeff Schoen, Huey Wilson & Raleigh Collins, 10/91
California > Sierra Eastside > Bishop Area > Owens River Gorge > Inner Gorge > Eldorado Roof
Access Issue: Bridges Out! IMPORTANT LADWP NEGOTIATIONS!! High water release May 13, 2019!!! Details


Looney Binge is an absolutely classic endurance testpiece on the underside of the Eldorado Roof. It is way less thuggy than it appears, and makes for a wonderful climb.

Begin just left of center on a pile of cheater stones at a weakness in the wall. Climb up past an initial undercling crux (12a) to a no-hands rest. Continue up the short dihedral to the second crux below the roof (12b) which gains a crazy flake system. Follow this off to the right for many clips to a difficult section around a bulge, and then more easily to an intermediate anchor. Recover here and keep going! Three or four more clips on interesting, vertical face climbing/traversing leads to the anchor on Towering Inferno P1. Lower off with a 70m cord.


18 chain draws.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

One of the coolest things I have ever climbed!
[Hide Photo] One of the coolest things I have ever climbed!
Beautiful powerful technical climbing in a surreal oasis.<br>
[Hide Photo] Beautiful powerful technical climbing in a surreal oasis.
Todd Graham on Looney Binge, .12c, mid-90s.
[Hide Photo] Todd Graham on Looney Binge, .12c, mid-90s.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] The FA included a large team, as the route was an almost industrial undertaking. Alf, Jeff Schoen, Raleigh Collins, et al. Nov 11, 2008
[Hide Comment] fa:

I saw the dolphin shaped flake of loony binge in the afternoon light as I walked the road on the other side of the gorge. The scrutinizer, Raleigh and others assured me that it was impossible. I insisted on trying, so a large group started leading up. We used a pulley on the back of our harness. If somebody got far beyond the last bolt, a helper on the ground pulled the power drill up to them. The leader drilled as much bolt hole as they could before dropping off onto the previous bolt. The drill took it's own whipper onto the pulley.

Upon reaching the middle of the flake, I inserted a long crow bar behind it, and fixed a rope to the end of that. 3 of us bounced on the crowbar. The flake did not flex much, so we continued. It was a lot of fun, with plenty of yelling and long falls. At one point, I dropped off while drilling, and the previous bolt popped out too! It was a marvelous, long swing.

Marty Lewis, the local guidebook author helped finish up the bolts to the anchor. for perhaps a month, the route resisted our best efforts. Finally, I sent it one afternoon during the full of the moon, grading it 12d. Although not my hardest lead, it was certainly the hardest first ascent.

John Bachar got on it soon after, and I awaited the result with trepidation. He was prone to regrade one's route as much as 2 number grades lower depending on his experience. He could solo as hard as any of us could lead. I liked and respected John, so it was no problem that he would decide the final grade. He only downgraded the route to a 12c!

I returned recently, to find long black chains and fixed biners on the bolts. I ask that these be removed, leaving only the hangars. A young climber told me that he found it too difficult to hang quick draws. Now that I have described the routes beginnings, and my feelings on the matter, perhaps someone will be kind enough to remove the equipment. It's OK if loony binge becomes the only route in the cave without fixed draws.

thank you Jan 9, 2009
[Hide Comment] Nice story, Alf. This is the essence of Mountain Project, I think. History. Jan 15, 2009
trying hard
Sierra East Side
[Hide Comment] thanks to whomever put the chains up. I could not imagine this route being cleaned easily. Mad props to FA team but, again thank you!!! for the chain draws. May 1, 2011
[Hide Comment] Al that's an absolutely ingenious idea with the pully and the drill... Thanks for sharing... cool story and an amazing looking route. Feb 14, 2013
Go Back to Super Topo
Back of my truck
[Hide Comment] are there perma's or at least cleaner draws on this monster? Oct 14, 2014
Jeff Gicklhorn
Tucson, AZ
[Hide Comment] mozeman: There are chain draws with alluminum biners on all bolts (with the exception of the first bolt). I would suggest carrying some replacement biners as several were not in the greatest condition when I got on this last spring. Oct 30, 2014
James Cranston
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Any advice on how to train for this route, or what the crux moves are like? This is going to be a project of mine this spring. Jan 1, 2015
Jeff Gicklhorn
Tucson, AZ
[Hide Comment] James: Just got back on this again last weekend. The traverse along the flake is the definite redpoint crux, and it feels like traversing on a 45 degree (or steeper) wall for ~50ft. Maybe work on training endurance on steep walls with high feet. Jan 23, 2015
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
[Hide Comment] "I ask that these be removed, leaving only the hangars."

The subsequent comments seem to be extremely disrespectful to one of the FA team.

I don't climb very hard anymore, and never climbed 12+, but surely shouldn't the route be climbed in the original style? Isn't it cheating to do otherwise? Sep 22, 2015
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] I'd love to chime in about this route. It's something I've looked at for about 4 years and always walked past. It was different than my expectations in a few ways.
1) the crux at the 2nd bolt felt WAY harder than I was expecting. To me they were hands down the hardest moves of the route and I was stumped for longer than I care to admit.

2) This route is way more of a traverse than I realized. The pics are a little deceiving in that it looks like it is a TOTALLY horizontal flake crack in a roof. While it is super duper crazily steep, it never climbs totally horizontally. most of the time it feels like you're on 50-70 degree terrain. Nov 21, 2015