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Split Decision

5.8, Trad,  Avg: 2 from 3 votes
FA: F. A. Mark Mcquarrie & Paul Anderson, 1965
Utah > Wasatch Range > Little Cottonwo… > Gate Buttress > Beckey's Wall Area
Access Issue: Gate Buttress Area Recreational Lease: Climbs on Church Buttress above vault remain closed Details


A wide crack that requires alternating between delicate smears on the face and high-stepping, power-underclings on the crack while trying to find good stances to place large gear.

Starting from the 2nd pitch of Split Pants you'll be able to get a hand-size piece in above your belay before you get into the meat of the off width. Step up and place a large piece (I only had a #6 that was tipped out). From there you can either layback or use some crimps and smear the face. I chose the latter. Proceed to work up the crack until it slightly narrows and you can place a final piece in order to pull around the corner. From that stance you can either place a BigBro or a TCU. Work up the chimney a bit more and you can find a nice 00 placement. From that point the climbing eases as you head up a gully until you reach some foliage. Look out to the left and you'll see a set of chain anchors. Pull up onto the slab and do some easy friction moves and then follow the rap for Pebbles and Bambam. Note that these are not the P&B anchors and a single 70m will not get you down to Beckey's.


Hike to the base of the dihedrals and then do the first two pitches (great strung together as a long pitch) of Split Pants. Stop at the piton and build a natural anchor. P3 of Split Pants continues to the right, the Needle's Eye goes straight up the squeeze chimney and Split Decision follows left side of the wide crack.


Standard Wasatch rack for Split Pants and up to 8" for the crack. You can also place small TCUs (00 and 1 Metolius) after rounding the top of the crack)

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Rock bags the lead every time.
[Hide Photo] Rock bags the lead every time.
This FA was brought to you by the letters NST and PBR.
[Hide Photo] This FA was brought to you by the letters NST and PBR.
Celebrating a good day of climbing at the Gate Buttress trail head.
[Hide Photo] Celebrating a good day of climbing at the Gate Buttress trail head.
Up and Over (Never did get the Big Bro in)
[Hide Photo] Up and Over (Never did get the Big Bro in)
How's this BigBro supposed to work?
[Hide Photo] How's this BigBro supposed to work?
Feet set high to pull up to move around the corner
[Hide Photo] Feet set high to pull up to move around the corner
Transition from smearing/face to underclings
[Hide Photo] Transition from smearing/face to underclings
Look for the smear out left
[Hide Photo] Look for the smear out left
Shingo pointing out that the climb goes up.
[Hide Photo] Shingo pointing out that the climb goes up.
Split Decision off width crack
[Hide Photo] Split Decision off width crack

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Todd Green
[Hide Comment] Turns out that the FA happened many years ago (as many suspected), but I'll leave the original comment here otherwise the rest of the thread doesn't make sense.


This was my second climbing day of the season, my second season leading, and my first FA. I wasn't even supposed to lead. On my first day of the season I took an unexpected lead fall and had mangled my hand a bit (not to mention my head.) So what better way to get back into the swing of things than to get a TR from two rope guns?

So I meet Shingo and Zac at the base of Satan's and ask what's on the menu. They say that they are doing an FA. Right?!? What's left unclimbed in the dihedrals figuring that they are just messing with me. Anyway next thing I know I'm leading Split Pants. My beta: "Go to you see a piton and setup an anchor for us."

Anyway the climbing is really easy (5.6?) and I've setup the anchor and bring the two of them up. Ok, now I get my sweet TR. Shingo announces that ro-sham-bo will decide the lead. Excellent, give me the camera to document. No, you are in it for the lead. Wait, uh no! I explain that I've never lead anything requiring more than a #3. No, you're in. Now I'm thinking that I've played Ultimate for years and we ro-cham-bo for everything and I'll crush them. Sure enough the "rookies" both throw scissors and I crush them with rock. I think "!%^!@ me" was my response. Next thing I know Zac is handing me some #5's and a #6 as well as a Big Bro. As I'm placing my first piece I'm still trying to figure out how I went from getting TR's to leading some unknown off width.

I ask Shingo about where I need to go and what gear. He gives me the "It's a FA dumbass look" (actually he was really supportive) and tells me to climb and then setup an anchor whenever I feel like it and we'll figure out a way to get down afterwards.

So off I go and place the #6 to find out it is tipped out. Nice, so now I'm in a no-fall zone on somewhat gritty rock, on some unknown grade climb. Luckily there were some crimps. Anyone who has climbed with me knows that if there is an option between crack and crimps, I'm out of the crack and on the crimps. :evil grin: A couple of moves later and I'm able to get in a solid large cam and then climb to the top to pull the corner. However it is *really* wide by now and that means I get to figure out how to place a Big Bro while trying to hold on to this overhanging crack with my other hand. But the crack is a "V" and the Big Bro is a parallelogram so after three failed attempts, I give up and really stretch and find a TCU placement in the right wall. Letting out a sigh of relief I lean around the corner and find that I can get a damn near hands-free rest by wedging in my shoulder. "$^@!#%! me" again.

The rest of the climb is pretty straight forward(*). We had two 70m ropes, so we were able to rap from the anchor to the top of Beckey's and from there to the base of the dihedrals.

(*) Other than the hellacious winds that came in blowing straight up the wall.

Edit: Meant to add many thanks to Zac for taking all the pics and hauling up the wind breaker. Mar 31, 2010
[Hide Comment] you better get on this quick, it gets harder by the hour. Mar 31, 2010
Todd Green
[Hide Comment] >> better get on this quick,
>> it gets harder by the hour.

It's the snow accumulating. ;) Sorry I was trying to figure out MP's averaging algorithm (which seems a bit wonky) and forgot to put it back from an 8+ to 8. (Found the route that made me wonder: Red Neck Slab has 10a/b, 10a, 10a, and the consensus is 10-, huh? I guess MP considers "-" to be harder than "a".)

Getting way off topic, nice work on LHW area on all the new routes! Mar 31, 2010
[Hide Comment] 10- = 10a/b
10- > 10a

10 = 10b/c

10+ = 10c/d Mar 31, 2010
[Hide Comment] "power undercling" on a 5.8 huh? Thought maybe that phrase was resevered for Motorskills variation. Eh Mar 31, 2010
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] Isn’t this the Needles's eye Variation? #69 (hah hah hah bevis) in the Wasatch book? I might be wrong and apologize if i am, but sure seems like that’s what this one is... FA Mark McQ and Steve Ellsworth circa 64'? again... apologies if I am way off on this Apr 20, 2010
Zac Robinson
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] The Needle's Eye variation is the squeeze chimney that tunnels back and behind the roof. We had firsthand word from the Smoot's that they (and others) never went straight out the roof and had no idea how hard it was.

We didn't even know if it would be 5.8 or 5.11 until we got up the thing. Without big cams and with a steep OW looking right at you, I don't blame them for not considering it! Apr 20, 2010
park city, utah
[Hide Comment] in my 1991 Wasatch North book thats clearly marked as needle's eye var. 5.7, your gonna have to look a little harder to find a f.a. on the gate buttress. nice try anyway. Apr 28, 2010
[Hide Comment] Ya and all guides are completely accurate. Apr 28, 2010
Boissal .
Small Lake, UT
[Hide Comment] The chance of a guidebook being inaccurate is lesser than the chance of a statement such as "they (and others) never went straight out the roof" being true.
Cause you know, BSmoot being the repository of LCC knowledge and all, everyone's supposed to give him a call upon leaving the canyon to notify him of everything done that day, including - but not limited to - TRs of Bushwack or the Coffin and new variations to the Needles' Eye Variation.
Or not.
Who cares? It wasn't reported, these guys got after it and had a good old time, now it's on the proj and I doubt the previous FA (if there's one) is getting butthurt that his thunder is being stolen. Apr 28, 2010
Zac Robinson
Salt Lake City, UT
[Hide Comment] does your 1991 guidebook describe Eye of the Needle as a squeeze chimney? Apr 29, 2010
Todd Green
[Hide Comment] Did you read the description for the Needle's Eye?:

This chimney is so tight that only skinny climbers can slither through...Try it naked. ... The chimney itself doesn't protect. Perhaps take a few cams for above the chimney.

Do those pics look like a squeeze chimney with no protection? Again FA's aren't my thing. If someone knows of an earlier FA, I'm more than happy to delete this and create an entry for them (or someone else can). I also agree that it seems improbable that someone didn't climb it, but you'd think the Smoots would know about it and they were asked by Shingo.

But it is a fun little climb for someone looking to work on their offwidth skills, so for now it stays up. Perhaps I should have called it Squeeze Job. ;)

More climbing less posting says I. Today was awesome in LCC complete with large pebble sized hail. Who "woulda thunk it" in June? It's been a crazy season. Jun 10, 2010
Boissal .
Small Lake, UT
[Hide Comment] ObviouSly you care enough about this FA to resuscitate the argument a month later. Perhaps you should see the irony in saying "more climbing less Posting" then...
Perhaps the Smoots eaRs aren't as long as you'd like to believe.
Perhaps you should have called it a VariAtion to Needle's Eye Variation...
Maybe nobody reallY gives a shit in the end. Jun 10, 2010
Todd Green
[Hide Comment] Actually I came by to update the description to let people know you definitely can't rap on a single 70. (We had two, and given the weather, we were more focused on just getting down) which someone may give a shit about if they are 3/4's the way down P&B and find themselves at the knots. ;) Two weeks is not exactly a month. I don't browse MP daily.

> Perhaps the Smoots eaRs aren't as long as you'd like to believe.

You really need to fix that sticky shift key. ;)

> ObviouSly you care enough about this FA

I care much more about people not apparently paying attention and repeating comments that had already been discussed. Jun 11, 2010
[Hide Comment] Here's some new information about the first ascent...that McQuarrie was a bold climber!

"Mark led the climb with very little protection and I followed. Mark was a lot gutsier with his approach than me. As I remember I had a belay right up under the roof and maybe he got in a bong or two, plus there wasn’t all that far of a fall if the climbing fell out. Once you got around the corner you were tight in the jam."

-Paul Anderson

F. A. Mark Mcquarrie & Paul Anderson, 1964 Oct 17, 2010
Todd Green
[Hide Comment] Sweet, updated the FA info. Any idea on what they called it or the grade they gave it? Oct 18, 2010
[Hide Comment] They didn't grade or name it. Paul mentioned that it probably wasn't worth recording at this late stage in the game, but I think that was since the FA occurred 45 years ago with out sticky rubber shoes or big cams. Thanks for posting up...nice photos! Oct 19, 2010