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Routes in Snow Creek Wall

Edge of Space T,S 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Hyperspace T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Iconoclast T 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Mary Jane Dihedral T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Orbit T 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13
Outer Space T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
RPM T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
RPM (2nd pitch early exit) T 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
White Slabs T 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13
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Type: Trad, 800 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: Beckey, Davis 1962
Page Views: 16,333 total · 164/month
Shared By: ChrisJoosse on May 18, 2010
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closures Details

Description

Orbit is probably the second-most popular route on Snow Creek Wall, and is regarded to have a more airy, exposed feel. Although the climbing is technically more moderate than Outer Space, the combination of exposure, route-finding challenges, and the occasional runout section combine to provide a spicy feel beyond the grade.

With the exception of pitch 1, all pitches put your climber out of line-of-sight, and out of earshot.

Pitch 0: 5.6, 180 feet. Scramble up to the large tree slightly right of the Mary Jane dihedral. Move left and enter a 4th class gully. Follow this up toward the distinctive 'hanging' tree at the top. Sling the flake and/or the tree. (Some route descriptions omit this pitch, or call it the scramble to the first belay station.)

Pitch 1: 5.8+, 90 feet. Move right of the tree to the main ledge and proceed up corners and slabs to the crux of this pitch, an 'awkward' roof which can be negotiated via the slab on the left, or stemming high and pulling over the roof. Once past this, climb 30 easy feet to a small ledge directly below the Mary Jane dihedral.

Pitch 2: 5.8 - 5.9, 150 feet. Find the easy overhung traverse moving left and up at a diagonal. After 90 feet or so, you'll find yourself at the foot of a fantastic 5.9 finger crack system which presents the technical crux of the pitch, in the form of another 'awkward' transition leftward when the finger crack system peters out.
Set belay on the ramp with bushes above the finger crack, and chill in the slot behind the large flake. (an alternate to the crack system is to continue traversing left, then climb up low-fifth class blocks to the belay).

Pitch 3: 5.8+, 180 feet. Take an airy, exposed step up and right to a slab which progresses about 40 feet up to a roof. Clip the bolt, skip the buttonhead, and when the slab begins to roof out, move right around the arete.
If the fingercracks of the prior pitch are the technical crux of the route, the face climbing above the arĂȘte in this pitch are the mental crux. Proceed directly up the face (small cams for pro here) through some fun mantling moves to a dihedral with a small ledge and vertical and horizontal cracks. This will be your most-exposed feeling belay station.

Pitch 4: 5.8, 90 feet. From your belay, climb straight up the dihedral. When crack in the corner runs out, move up and to the right to gain the knobby face, and marvel at the beginning of a sea of chickenheads. Pull over an easy roof and continue up the 5.5 face to the large ledge with an overhanging roof and obvious right ramp. Belay from the ledge.

Pitch 5: 5.6, 200 feet. Move up the ramp on the right side of the ledge and marvel at the endless chickenheads in front of you. Pro is very sparse- sling the occasional chickenhead- and move generally left, following the easiest path. Climbing will become progressively easier from here, and eventually you'll reach 3rd-class jumbles of blocks- go as far as you have rope and set belay.

Pitch 6: low 5th, 150 feet. Climb generally up and left toward the top, then head right up one of the gullies to the sandy summit.

Descent: From the summit, move left to find the cairn-marked descent trail, which will lead you across the top of the gully at the base of the wall and onto the rib across from the wall. Take a moment to enjoy the view, and follow the cairn-trail down. Some of this will be 4th class scrambing but if done right will not require a rappel.
Near the bottom, enter a narrow gully and work left (back toward your packs). A short scramble (watch for the cairns!) over a fin ridge will gain you the flank at the foot of the wall- continue down and left until you reach your starting point. If you proceed too far, you'll be cliffed out.

Location

Follow the climber's trail from the snow creek trail up to the base of Outer Space. From here (for reference you'll be roughly under the Shield), go left along the base of the wall for about 150 yards or until the base of the wall (and the trail) start going steeply downhill. Rack up here, stash your packs, and say hello to the goat welcoming committee. Scramble up and left over easy terrain toward a large evergreen below the prominent Mary Jane dihedral. Use the gully to looker's left of the hanging tree for easiest access. Some of this scrambling may warrant roping up, as the last moves up to the ledge are probably 5.6 and feel exposed.

Protection

Gear to 3" with an emphasis on finger and small hand sizes, double set of nuts
Rafe
  5.8+
Rafe  
  5.8+
I'm pretty sure this route isn't over 1000ft long. May 18, 2010
ChrisJoosse  
 
You're right, the sum of the pitches I put up adds up to 1020 feet- that is probably wrong. The numbers mentioned in pitch descriptions are estimates, based on my own memory and other accounts- but I think they're fairly reasonable. Also note: the first pitch I described is sometimes considered a part of the scramble/approach- without that the total is 840, which seems reasonable given an ~800' wall and some traversing?
Corrections are definitely welcome here- I just put this up because there wasn't an entry for it. May 19, 2010
Rafe
  5.8+
Rafe  
  5.8+
Yeah Orbit should definetly be here, I'm surprised it wasn't already! Didn't mean to sound dickish if I did, that was just my first thought while reading the description. May 19, 2010
Cat Cahoon
Seattle, WA
  5.8+
Cat Cahoon   Seattle, WA
  5.8+
This route is fun fun! It deserves it's reputation for being heady and exposed, but the climbing is so good. There are sections where all of the things you've heard are true. sometimes the gear is tricky, sometimes its a bit runout. but the climbing is so good. Jul 4, 2011
John Wilder
Las Vegas, NV
  5.8+
John Wilder   Las Vegas, NV
  5.8+
To take the edge off the start of this route, scramble up to the base of the 4th class gully and belay at that ledge. You can make the top of the first pitch as described from here (its about 58m from the base of the gully). This does require a couple of 5.easy moves (easy to short-rope your partner), but is a nice way to pitch the route out.

Really fun route. Good protection throughout (not sure where the PG13 part is on this), and clean falls at the cruxes (a rarity on 5.8!). I'd highly recommend this one for sure. Jun 4, 2013
On pitch 2, I wouldn't wait till right crack peters out before transferring to left crack. It gets harder to move left the higher you go up. You can traverse over fairly early. Jun 23, 2014
andrew bogaard
  5.8+ PG13
andrew bogaard  
  5.8+ PG13
I have to disagree with John's comment: the gear is good everywhere the climbing is tricky, but I had about 2 cams placed for the last 200ft of this route. I think the PG13 is warranted. More sustained and more fun than Outer Space, in my opinion. (update 17 may 2018: I just climbed it again... I love this route. still think if this isn't pg13, I dont know what is) Apr 20, 2015
Serge Smirnov
Seattle, WA
Serge Smirnov   Seattle, WA
P0: About the large tree being "slightly right of the Mary Jane dihedral".. I'm sure there are angles (and possible starts) from which the tree appearss right of the dihedral, but from the start I found - where "the base of the wall (and the trail) start going steeply downhil" - the large tree appeared up and left at a ~45 degree angle. I did see room for interpretation as to what constitutes "the trail", though (or "steeply downhill", for that matter).

P1: the "roof" (felt more like a chimney) was by far the crux of the route for me (I am weak with chimneys).

P2: the "easy overhung traverse" starts 20-30 feet above what I thought was the most logical belay ledge to end P1.

P4 felt much longer than 90ft - I'd guess 130.

P5 runouts were quite exposed but very easy. Oct 6, 2015
oretro
  5.9 PG13
oretro  
  5.9 PG13
Towards the end of pitch 3 (about 40 ft from the end), there will be TWO bolts near vertical and horizontal cracks. This is NOT the intended belay station for Pitch 4 (but it will work). Guessing this is why Serge Smirnov felt that P4 was more like 130 ft than 90 ft. Jul 7, 2016
SDFlynn  
Climbed this yesterday but had to bail when rain came in. We were on the face climb above the arĂȘte (pitch 3). Left some carabiners and two runners hanging from old bolts (do not recommend). If anyone snags them would love to get them back. Thanks. Sep 5, 2016
aparnas
 
aparnas  
 
Did this on July 4, 2017, but due to some logistical problems we didn't get started hiking in until about 12:30 or 1:00 pm... and because the start is difficult to find for people unfamiliar with the area (as is noted in previous comments) we didn't actually start the climb until 4:30 pm. Topped out as the sun set, met one of the local goats (nice dude) and began the descent in darkness... OH MAN, the descent... Impossible to follow/find/negotiate in the dark. The cairned trail degenerates into a spider web of goat trails (not surprising, I guess) that are sometimes a bit too treacherous for (human) comfort. Anyways, we made it back to Leavenworth around 2 am and checked into the first hotel we saw. The receptionist was more than a little shocked by our grimy, filthy, bloody appearance, but was all in all super chill. Great climb. Jan 2, 2018

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