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Toxic Shock

5.9, Trad, 360 ft, 3 pitches,  Avg: 2.3 from 25 votes
FA: Unkown
N Carolina > Linville Gorge > Shortoff Mountain
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure Details
Access Issue: All climbing routes between and including C.O. to and including Paradigm Shift are closed. Details


The first pitch of this route is a great 5.9 that is often cited as a good alternative start to Dopey Duck. It's located immediately to the left of the block upon which Dopey starts; then joins Dopey for a short section before the belay that both routes share at the top of P1; then continues to the right of it. So it's a nice way to scope Dopey, which should be on your list if it isn't. Although often described as a "finger crack" I found the crux to be more a series of a large holds along a typical variegated Shorftoff seam that contained some finger locks and liebacks here and there before easing off to a larger crack.

P1 (~120) 5.9: Start up (what looks like) a diagonal finger crack leaning to the right and immediately to the left of the block on which Dopey Duck starts. Although not as steep as Dopey, this is consistent climbing for about 100 feet with a deceptively steep crux section. Guides often say to belay at the dead tree stump, but there's an additional stance a bit further on.

P2 (~150) 5.6: Continue up a the large blocky dihedral/crack feature directly above. Look for the path of least lichen. I noticed that it stayed in the crack for a while then veered out onto the face. Ideal belay is the same large rock and moss ledge at the top of Dopey's P2, but there are some other options.

P3 (~90) 5.easy: Finish the very short wall immediately off the ledge and scramble or scramble up the lichen-covered dihedral/crack that continues up the natural line.


Turn skier's right (north) at the bottom of the descent gully and follow the faint trail to the base of the cliff at the first opportunity. If you go more than a hundred yards you've gone too far. The start of the route is in a plumb line directly underneath P2 of Dopey, which you can see above the foliage.


Standard Shortoff rack. Emphasis on small stoppers and TCU's at the beginning of P1, where pro may seem sparse. I find offset brassies and tricams helpful, but that's just me. Lots of good passive if you look for it. You can find big gear (e.g. BD #4) on P2 but it's not necessary.

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beautiful aesthetic line
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P1 - Toxic Shock
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Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Charlotte, NC
[Hide Comment] This is a great 1st pitch to link with P2 of Dopey Duck. As the description states, small nuts are important for P1. The rock quality is a little tenuous on this pitch so lead smart. Mar 16, 2015
Trad Dad Atlas
charlotte, nc
[Hide Comment] Did Toxic Duck yesterday and agree with Bryan's comment above, this is definitely preferred over P1 of Dopey Duck. The first 15-20 feet can be a little tenous as the pro isn't the greatest (as noted in the description above), but after that you get a little thought provoking bomber placements. Great first pitch. Dec 30, 2018
Lewis L
Asheville, NC
  5.9 PG13
[Hide Comment] There is a trucker pink tricam placement right before the crux, which I thought was the wavy/ sculpted 15 ft section right before you hit the first ledge. Slot and go. Feb 3, 2019