Type: Trad, Aid, Alpine, 1100 ft (333 m), 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: R. Hall & D. Byers Sept 1971
Page Views: 2,624 total · 30/month
Shared By: Robert Hall on Jul 2, 2014
Admins: Ladd Raine, Jonathan Steitzer, Robert Hall

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Access Issue: Winter climbing/hiking/mountaneering requires a permit Details
Access Issue: Consult with Park Rangers on climbing policy in such out-of-the-way areas Details


The Big Corner Complete - 5.7 and three moves of A-1 (free at 5.8?) (route description re-written 2014 from 1971 notes) Katahdin’s North Basin
FA / As Climbed By: R. Hall & D. Byers, Sept. 1971 (The lower part of the route had been climbed previously, the upper may be the same as Wexler's 1946 Headwall Route.) Obviously, with today’s longer ropes fewer pitches would be needed.
START: Very close to the lowest point of the North Basin, left of a vegetated ledge. See Photo. Scramble up to a thin crack that leads to a squeeze chimney.

P1) Climb the thin crack and chimney. At the chimney’s top, climb a ramp leading LEFT to the “Grand Traverse Ledge”. 130 ft, 5.4-5.5

P2) Climb up into the huge corner system and up on a friction face approx. 25-30 feet left of the corner itself. Above the friction climb a jamcrack to a belay in a black dike of rock. 90 feet, 5.6-5.7

P3) Move RIGHT 20 feet (+/-) stepping out to an airy, but not difficult, move. Then up easily 25 feet to an inside corner. (See NOTE.) Step LEFT back into the main corner. An awkward, off-balance 5.6-5.7 layback leads to an obvious belay on the left on some flat slabs. 90 feet, 5.6-5.7
NOTE: A resident piton ( 1971) protects a 1-inch layback crack and another “A-1” piton (1971) is under a roof which leads RIGHT out of the Big Corner system. (This leads to another route the "Zig Zag Letdown", also climbed by RH & DB in 1971. The "letdown" of the route, whose goal was the "Z-cracks" in the high slab of the face, was the the slab had leaned back so far the cracks were just Class 3-4.)

P4) [Alternate?] Move back DOWN on black rock in a corner and cross RIGHT up to a small rock-strewn ledge. Step LEFT and up a perfect A-1 crack for three moves ( 2 nuts) then easily to a wide, flat belay on the right. 25 feet, 5.5 A-1, but probably would go free at 5.7-5.8, and could be combined with P3.
[P4 Alternate? From the slab belay at the end of P3 it may be possible to climb a flaring chimney crack and then cross to the corner mentioned as the start if P5.]

P5) Up the big corner easily on blocks and flakes for 30-40 feet to where one can move LEFT out of the corner, make one step DOWN, then along a rising ramp to a poor belay in the middle of some slabs. 110 feet, 5.6-5.6.

P6) Move LEFT to a crack system running up the slabs. Up this ( 5.5-5.6) to where not-difficult underhanded laybacking leads RIGHT a few feet. Move up on left (key hold on left once committed) and then easily along a ramp 20 feet to a belay. 120 feet, 5.6

P7) Up left along an easy ramp and slabs. 100 feet, 5.2

P8) Directly up, climbing an inside corner or two. 150 feet, 5.2-5.3

P9) Up, slightly on the LEFT to the top of the “Serpent’s Head” 150 feet, 5.2-5.3

P’s 10, 11, 12, 13 Starting on the left climb up to the crest of the ridge forming the top of the cliff. 600 feet +/- Class 4 to 5.4 depending on where you go. This last section is probably part of Wexler’s “North Basin Headwall” route.


North Basin , Mt Katahdin
Intercept the Hamlin Ridge Trail for descent


Std Rack -