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Le Gourmet

5.4, Trad, 285 ft, 4 pitches,  Avg: 2.6 from 127 votes
FA: Larry Griffin 1965
W Virginia > Seneca Rocks > S Peak - W Face

Description

Pitch 1: Climb ramp up and left to the right facing corner and continue up the corner to a ledge. There are bolts just to the left on the ledge below Front C. (70 ft)

Pitch 2:Traverse RIGHT (diagonally up) to an arete and climb the arete up to Old Man's Traverse Ledge. (100 ft, pg-13)

Pitch 3: From the southern end of Old Man's Traverse Ledge climb up to the left side of the Critter Wall to a flake below southern facing chimneys (beginning of Critter Crack).

Pitch 4: Climb the right most chimney to the spectacular top (85ft)

Location

Begin just to climber's left of where the upper West Face Trail meets the rock (left of Traffic Jam Rappel) at a ramp which leads left to a prominent right facing corner.

Protection

At the top, look east directly behind you to a chimney which leads down to the summit ledge. The chockstone at the top is slung with a rap ring. Step down into the chimney and then rap or lower or downclimb through this chimney (40 ft) to the east facing summit ledge.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

The view from the flake top out on the last pitch of Le Gourmet.  I've climbed it numerous times and still enjoy it.  It's a great finish for a 5.4.
[Hide Photo] The view from the flake top out on the last pitch of Le Gourmet. I've climbed it numerous times and still enjoy it. It's a great finish for a 5.4.
Mike getting a solid lead on Le Gourmet.  Don't let the pic fool you...there are plenty of holds but even at 5.4 Le Gourmet will test a new leader.  Especially if you throw Front C in there!
[Hide Photo] Mike getting a solid lead on Le Gourmet. Don't let the pic fool you...there are plenty of holds but even at 5.4 Le Gourmet will test a new leader. Especially if you throw Front C in there!
Eric following the last pitch. Fun mix of chimney and crack.
[Hide Photo] Eric following the last pitch. Fun mix of chimney and crack.
Here's a pic of the loose rock I mentioned in the post.  It's below my feet in the shadow.  You can see the separation from the main flake.  It felt like it would come out but maybe it's locked in.  I wasn't going to test it since it would endanger numerous routes below.  It's about 20ft from the top out of the final pitch.  There's no need to use it, there are gobs of holds.  From below though, you can't tell that it's suspect.
[Hide Photo] Here's a pic of the loose rock I mentioned in the post. It's below my feet in the shadow. You can see the separation from the main flake. It felt like it would come out but maybe it's locked in.…
Le Gourmet..
[Hide Photo] Le Gourmet..
Old rap station atop the first pitch?
[Hide Photo] Old rap station atop the first pitch?
Jon topping out on the final pitch of Le Gourmet.
[Hide Photo] Jon topping out on the final pitch of Le Gourmet.
Carson Purnell on the pitch #2 traverse.
[Hide Photo] Carson Purnell on the pitch #2 traverse.
More wet rock! May 6, 2012
[Hide Photo] More wet rock! May 6, 2012
Mike leading the blocky last pitch of Le Gourmet
[Hide Photo] Mike leading the blocky last pitch of Le Gourmet
Pat leading up the last pitch of Le Gourmet.
[Hide Photo] Pat leading up the last pitch of Le Gourmet.
On the first pitch of Le Gourmet.
[Hide Photo] On the first pitch of Le Gourmet.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Brendan Cathcart
Bishop, CA
 
[Hide Comment] Some poor soul had to ditch a nice #2 omega link cam on pitch 1. I tried to work it out for about 15 minutes with no luck. Go get it! Dec 28, 2014
Andrew G
San Diego, CA
  5.4
[Hide Comment] It seems like most parties skip the 2nd pitch in favor of Front C and the 4th pitch in favor of Critter Crack. Can't recommend both alternates (5.6) enough! Apr 20, 2015
Cole T
Cincinnati, OH
 
[Hide Comment] I agree with andrew, much more fun this way. Also pitch 3 confused me and outs kinda a joke Jul 26, 2015
[Hide Comment] There is a loose basketball sized block on the last pitch about 20 feet from the top out on the flake. It's on the interior flake or the flake just to the left of the main right hand wall. From below it looks like a nice big horn on top of the flake. It moved quite easily when I grabbed it. I moved around it and tested it from above and it seems pretty free. If it released it would be bad news for anyone below, on critter crack, Old Man's ledge and countless routes below. I know not many people climb the last pitch of Le Gourmet (It's actually pretty fun, a great intro to trad lead and has a great top out) so it may not get a lot of hands on it. It might need to be trundled in a controlled manor unless it's somehow locked into that spot. May 23, 2016
[Hide Comment] A nice starting climb at Seneca. There is now two stuck cams on the first pitch. (none of them are mine) We opted not to do the second pitch as the protection is really sparse and the guide book agrees and mentions it. We did Front C 5.6 instead for the second pitch which was excellent and very fun! You should know that you are expected to scramble between the second and third pitch heading upward to the right and then when you get into a recessed notch, upward to the left behind a large wide flake and all the way to the very left side of the critter wall underneath the chimneys. I didn't know this and lead it making the whole climb more time consuming.

Also be advised that the guide book says nothing about what the anchor/belay station is at the top and where to go. If you stay somewhat in the chimney or just outside of it, you'll veer to the left a bit as you follow it and when you top out you'll see to the left a medium sized boulder at the top of and between two large section of flakes, like a two foot wide channel. That's the anchor. I choose not to use it as the anchor looked sketchy with carabiners that are triaxially loaded. I would have had to leave gear behind as you need a permanent anchor to rappel down that channel to get to the summit ledge.

I should have checked here to double check against the guide book, as I thought the boulder was someone's bail gear and climbed higher until I realized there was nothing and had to down climb and remove my protection as I went. I should have gone with my own intuition going straight up a short crack near the top as the chimneys veer left. It brings you into a large notch in the wall where you can create your anchor and top belay. Then it's a short scramble down the other side to the summit ledge. That's a much better way of doing the route, although there is a crux right near the notch that is probably 5.6 or 5.7. You can see this notch in the top right of Davis13au picture titled "Mike leading the blocky last pitch of Le Gourmet". You can also see a top down picture from the notch in BrendanCathcart's picture titled "Eric following the last pitch. Fun mix of chimney and crack." Both pictures show you how the chimneys veer left and a short crack goes straight up to the notch.

The loose rock is still there that Davis13au mentioned. Jun 7, 2016
[Hide Comment] Awesome time! Front C definitely best way to go. Above description is pretty spot on. To get down we rapped the chimney to east side then had last person grab rope and downclimb chimney. Walking north you can tag the summit as them come back to notch facing west. A short downclimb to the Conn's West Rappel tree with a sling and rap rings. One 70m JUST made it to ledge 80' off ground and short walk north to 2nd rappel rings (there's a rappel station in between but we didn't see it). Good to know a way off if just have a 70m in case! Jul 9, 2016
[Hide Comment] The rappel off the top slings is tricky because you have to turn around the corner between two chimneys. While you rap, be ready to carry the bulk of the rope and make sure not to drop it until you're past the rocks choked in both of these chimneys. Do not tie the ends, otherwise if you accidentally lose them, they might get stuck. Once you're down, be sure to move away, closer to the exit from from the last chimney so when you pull the rope it doesn't get stuck.

In other words, I should look into practicing some down-climbing a bit. Jul 4, 2017
[Hide Comment] No normal anchor on last pitch and rope drag is crazy if you will go into the chimney. Jul 17, 2017
Josh Rymer
Arlington, VA
  5.5
[Hide Comment] I did not see rap rings on 8/25/2018 at the top. The party ahead of me was down climbing as I popped over so I just assumed there were no rings. Personally, I think its a shorter (and looked easier) downclimb if you pop over and down climb the east facing wall, then walk to the conns west rap station via summit path. Aug 25, 2018