Type: Trad, Alpine, 850 ft (258 m), 12 pitches, Grade III
FA: Fred Beckey and Donald Gordon, 1958
Page Views: 8,032 total · 96/month
Shared By: Joseph Manning on Aug 7, 2014 · Updates
Admins: Scott Coldiron, Jon Nelson, Micah Klesick, Z Winters

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure at Newhalem Crags March 1st to mid-July Details

Description

This face, clearly visible from the road, is climbed via wandering easy rock climbing broken up by steeper sections up to 5.8. Route finding generally follows the path of least resistance and variations are possible. Expect both solid rock and sections of loose blocks and kitty litter.

Pitched climbing generally starts at the steep section below the top of the leftmost gully.  Pitch count and breakdown varies, but one obvious way to break down the route is as follows (note: the Supertopo guide shows this as 16 pitches, linking pitches as per below will make the easy sections of this route go much faster, everything below can be done with a 60m rope).

Begin climbing on the large ledge in the left hand gully, about 30m below the obvious top-out on the ridge.

1: Up gully to ridge crest, left on ridge, belay at tree.
2: Up ridge crest, staying right of steep faces, then turn left up obvious ramp to huge ledge.
3: Either continue up the blocky crest, or traverse ledge left and go up the 4th-low 5th gully/ramp.  Turn left at next large ledge and belay at tree.
4: Right and up ledge through small notch, then climb up awkward slabby section to a small ledge system with big exposure to the right.  Belay at base of chimney right before ledge ends at the SE face, rock here is a bit questionable.
5: Climb chimney then move right onto the face, which soon eases off to a sandy ramp/gully scramble under a huge chockstone.  Crawl under chockstone, then boulder on top and belay on great ledge right above chockstone.  This is a good feature to confirm you're on route.
6: Traverse ledges right from belay, and climb cracks and flakes up.  Lots of options here, including a squeeze chimney and some awesome crack and flake climbing.  At the top of large flakes and blocks, traverse up and left to a belay tree, or belay on gear above the blocks.  This pitch is super fun!
7: Up and left from the belay, climb a couple fun short steps with laybacking and jamming to a belay stance in a small notch with trees below the crux pitch.
8: Crux pitch.  Climb the ramp leading to the wide chimney/stembox feature (limited protection).  Stem up, then step right to the face with great hand cracks.  Climb up, then make an awkward move back left/down to top out into the sandy gully.  Belay from tree.
(Carry rope up sandy gully between false summits to obvious notch.  From vantage point at the top of the notch, take a look at the last 1-2 pitches so you know where you're going.  The super clean summit ridge offwidth is very obvious from here.)
9: Downclimb into the notch (easier than it looks).  Go left and drop down the loose gully.  Make a short climb up a face with good holds but limited protection to access the gully leading up and right.  Belay at the base of a corner on the left.
10:  Climb up the corner (easy) to get on top of the ledge/ridge.  Do the short slabby lieback boulder problem to access the very obvious hands/offwidth crack.  Climb the crack (splitter!), then walk across the big slab and scramble up easy terrain to the summit.

Location

Park at a long pullout on the north side of the highway 1.5 miles west of Washington Pass.  The trail leaves from the east end of this long pullout and drops down into the woods.  Follow the trail across the creek and up into the large meadow below Cutthroat peak.  After climbing the steeper section of trail and arriving in the boulder field below the south buttress, bear right and aim for the leftmost of the large gullies which come down from the south buttress/ridge.  Climb this gully (a few unexposed 5th class steps) until about 100 ft from the top, where it forks and gets steeper.  Most parties will rope up here and begin on the first pitch, climbing the left side of the gully to the ridge crest.

Protection

A single rack from 0.3-3 sews up the crux pitches.  A few doubles in the 0.5-2 range would stitch the whole route up.  Supertopo says optional #4 for the (very short) summit ridge offwidth.  Lots of single and double length runners.  Single 60m rope is sufficient for the descent.

Photos