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Routes in The Hourglass

Hourglass, Right, The T 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Type: Trad, 350 ft, 3 pitches
FA: Bob Kamps, Frank Sacherer (Jul '62) --- FFA: Frank Sacherer, Tom Gerughty (Aug '64)
Page Views: 995 total, 14/month
Shared By: Bryan G on Jan 15, 2012
Admins: M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection Details


The right side of the Hourglass features 3 quality pitches and spectacular views of the West Face of El Cap. Except for a 20 ft section of burly offwidth, most of the climb is pretty moderate and features lots of fun hand-jamming and mellow chimney climbing.

Pitch 1: Start in a clearing amidst a bunch of manzanitas. Do a boulder problem up the face to reach some ledges and then climb the right facing corner. There are a couple 5.9 bulges that are a bit awkward but mostly secure thanks to good handjams. This will take you to a nice flat belay ledge.

Pitch 2: Climb the beautiful handcrack in the corner until it widens to fists and then offwidth. By the time it becomes offwidth it's pretty low-angle and no problem. The pitch finishes at the tree. This tree will be your nemesis on both the way up and the way down. Climbing up into it is a pain and it's branches like to grab your clothing. Belay hanging awkwardly from the tree, which spooked me out a bit because I couldn't figure out where the trees roots are. But the tree's definitely alive so it must have roots right?

Pitch 3: Grapple your way up to the top of the tree to reach the start of the crux offwidth. If you don't want key beta then skip this paragraph... but the only way I figured out to get up it is to lieback the first few feet up to a key foothold. Then standing on this foothold I was able to transition into the crack and only had a few more feet of stout 10a offwidthing before I could squeeze inside. It would help to have two #6 Camalots since you could place one at the start before you lieback, and one sort of tipped out #6 once you start offwidthing. Trying to offwidth right from the start seemed more like 10+ to me. Also if you are a big person this will be harder than 10a. Once you're inside, it's just chimney climbing all the way to the top of the Hourglass. Belay at a bolted anchor on the outside of the pinnacle.

To descend, make two double-rope rappels. From the bolted anchor at the top rap down and then around the corner back to the tree. Do some leg wraps to lock yourself off and claw your way back over into the hanging belay below the tree. Then rap from the tree all the way down to the ground.


Pro to 4" plus the biggest stuff you've got. A #6 Camalot should be sufficient for most people but a Valley Giant or Big Bros would be useful, especially if your chest is significantly wider than a tipped-out #6.


Eric Kohl put up an aid route that runs up the center of the Hourglass (Indecision Time) and continues to Sherwood Forest far above. There is a ledge with anchors out on the face of the Hourglass that allows you to avoid the tree altogether. If you take the tree anyway, DO NOT let your ropes slither into the crack below the tree. The likelihood of getting them caught in there has already been established fifty years ago and I almost had a rope snag in there too. Dec 24, 2012
San Jose
Alexey   San Jose
The route length is about 280 ft. If you link first two pitches it is exactly 40m. Pitch 3 is 40 meters too.
We rappel from the top of the Hourglass to the ground with two 80m ropes without intermediate rappel (they barely reach).
You can do two 60m rope rappel using anchor on the face of Hourglass. It located on the Erick Kohl's route at about the tree level. One good/one bad bolt with no rings.
You can set up relatively convenient belay just below the tree using #6,#5 and #2, but still it would be semi-hanging belay.
For pitch 3 - I placed tipped -out #6Cam just above the tree and bomber #9VG- 15 feet higher.
I did not push #9 higher because it would tip out soon after.
Still I had to climb about 30 feet above it in overhanging flare without chance to squeeze in . And I am not big - 5'7", 145pound. At the place where to get into chimney become possible - I had to took off my helmet and chest harness.
So far this is only route where I missed to have #12VG. With #12VG you have option to fell or hang, without it NO such option.
I did not clip bolt because it a) looks useless and b) was difficult to clip ( was climbing right side in)
I did not layback at the start- and did heel-toe/armbaring which did not feel as 10+, more like 10b, but crux for me was 30 feet of climbing above #9 where with secure chicken wing upward progress was very slow and hard and measured by 1 inch/per stoke.
As you enter inside - you can relax, but it still long way to go. You can sling choke-stones, and place small gear there.
At the top there 3 bolts and one of them is new. Great route, entertaining view while belaying your friend on the top of Hourglass. Apr 15, 2013
Bryan G
Bryan G   Yosemite
After reading a bit online it seems that the belay/rap tree has been in declining health these last couple decades. I was a little suspicious of it's bomber-ness on the climb and probably would have been a lot more freaked out if I had read some of the discussions beforehand. But I don't know enough about trees to say if it's safe or not. You could definitely belay below or above it, provided you bring some extra big gear to anchor off of. Trying to rappel without using it might be a bit more tricky. I'd guess you could probably find something somewhere out on the face to slot a couple nuts, but I wasn't looking. And I'd say it's damn near impossible to climb up to the offwidth without pulling on the tree, so you're at least committed to trusting it on lead.

Basically, just look at it and use some caution and good sense before you throw in your fate with the fate of the tree. Jan 19, 2012