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Witches Brew

5.3 PG13, Trad, 160 ft, 2 pitches,  Avg: 2.4 from 40 votes
FA: unknown
Pennsylvania > S Central PA > Chickies Rock > Main Wall


I have seen different descriptions of Witches Brew and Witches Brew Direct. In my opinion, "Direct" is the only version worth considering. Any escape to the left or right does not make the climbing any easier, and you miss the best part of the climb.

Due to the length of the climb, the first time I did this I did it in two pitches, setting up a belay on the loose ledges at the base of the chimney. Don't do this. There is tons of loose rock on these ledges, rope management here sends showers of rocks down on to your belayer. I strongly suggest leading this climb in one long 160-foot pitch. the climbing is very easy, use some longer slings.

Climb the crack system using larger gear to the base of the Witches Brew Chimney (5.3). Climb the chimney--the key piece of pro will be on the south wall of the chimney--horizontal crack takes a pink Tri-cam or small C4.

Do not climb to the top of the chimney. You will get trapped under a chockstone. Instead, climb about 2/3 way up, then exit the chimney by stepping around the north corner onto the sunny exposed face to the left of the chimney (5.3). Easy climbing to the top.

PS. Please do not tie two ropes together and use this climb as a top tope. This is a nice easy lead for aspiring trad climbers. It doesn't make sense to tope rope such an easy climb.


At the far left (north) side of the Main Wall there is a small buttress--20 feet left of that there is a large tree at the base of a major crack system. This large crack system is 30-40 left of the small Main Street crack. If you back up to the railroad tracks you'll see the crack ends in a ledge area with lots of loose, broken rock and then directly above that there is a nice chimney finish.


There is a large tree on top to use as a belay. Walk off or use a two-rope rappel. A single 60M rappel will not make the ground.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

main wall at Chickies
[Hide Photo] main wall at Chickies
Good view of Witches Brew
[Hide Photo] Good view of Witches Brew
good view of the chimney.
[Hide Photo] good view of the chimney.
Looking up Witches Brew.
[Hide Photo] Looking up Witches Brew.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Frank T
  5.4 PG13
[Hide Comment] Good description! this was my first lead at Chickies. Be careful of rope drag and you can get to the top in one long pitch. helmets are a must! Jun 20, 2009
Larry S
Easton, PA
[Hide Comment] A good fun climb. Possible belay right where it starts to really slab in or right at the base of the chimney. Or run it straight to the top. Large hexes (7-10) fit PERFECT in this climb. A .75 and a #1 camalot help protect the chimney and moves around onto the face. I recommend the #1 in the chockstone with a long sling and then traverse left out to the face. The moves are easy, but without that a fall here would probably get you pretty well hurt. Jun 30, 2010
Tyrel Fuller
Denver, CO
  5.0 PG13
[Hide Comment] there is an old piton near the top of the chimney , just above the horizontal. Jan 27, 2011
Paul Chrastina
Dover, Pennsylvania
[Hide Comment] Unless things have changed since the early 80s, stemming to the top of the chimney and pulling out and over the chockstone is hard, but not impossible. Mar 29, 2011
Lancaster PA
  5.3 PG13
[Hide Comment] Lead this for the first time yesterday. Great fun.

As a new(er) trad leader here are my thoughts -

As mentioned above; be mindful of rope drag. Basically extend everything w/ a long sling. I don't usually find good hex placements but I was very glad to have them on this climb.

This is a very looong climb. Make sure you have a full trad rack because you'll use a lot of gear. May 16, 2014
Hyo Byun
Baltimore, MD
  5.5 PG13
[Hide Comment] Pretty fun climb. LONG. Take more gear and extended slings than you think you'll need. Also a good excuse to take your #5 up.

Chimney requires more thought than a 5.3. At the top, gear placements aren't great. Used the tree mentioned above & a chock stone (not the same one atop the chimney), but required every bit of a 30ft cord.

Also be prepared for kids instagraming you as pull the summit. Feb 19, 2017