Type: Trad, Mixed, Ice, 1400 ft (424 m), 7 pitches, Grade V
FA: Ice Cube, Phil Wortmann, Noah McKelvin
Page Views: 3,267 total · 32/month
Shared By: Noah McKelvin on Jan 26, 2016
Admins: Edward Medina, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Tyler KC

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Description Suggest change

Pass this exam, and the beers are on me for you and your partner!

This is the second best route I've done on the Dark Side, behind DTM. Long sustained pitches, serious runouts and a complicated descent (unless you use the Drop The Mic descent) make this pretty Grade V in our opinion. Any future ascents can comment there thoughts. This could be the mental testpiece of the dark side. This route follows terrain right of Bird Brain Boulevard. You top out above BBB and all the other routes on the buttress. It has an awesome position! This was established ground up without bolts. For me, it was a completion of the long goal of establishing a boltless line on the biggest part of the Bird Brain Buttress, and it barely went without bolts. We originally graded it M6/+ but I’ve upgraded it to M7. You need to be on your A game for this route. To put it lightly, Phil had a kid soon after, and I ran into a toxic marriage a month after.

Below is what we encountered. The pitch lengths and grades are very approximate.

P1 (WI3 M5, 50ish meters). Start in the obvious groove/chimney. Climb up steep M5 terrain for a while until it mellows out. It then gets steep again. Tunnel through overhanging, M5+ snow (time consuming), and then cut right to a sweet, smallish roof. Mantel by tree hugging. There is a bit of ice at the very end!

P2 (M3, 50ish meters). Cut left, and then slog up steep snow until you get to a slab. Cut left and around the corner to a point where moss heads up the slab. Belay at the last tree before the SWEET, M4 corner.

P3 (M4, 40m). Beg your partner to let you lead this pitch! Ice climb a dead tree, and head up the mossy corner, the crux being near the top before the tree hugging mantel. You get moss sticks for days! Belay at a tree right after the mantel.

P4 (M5+, 70m). This pitch is awesome! Head up the obvious groove above until it turns into a very unique chimney. Steep and sustained M5+ finds you at a tree after 73 meters or so.

P5 (M3, 60ish m). This is the hardest slog pitch by far! Head up and left, and cut left into a gully. Follow it with some M3 climbing to a snow mushroom mantel. Now you're in a big cave looking up, thinking to yourself "What the hell is this?"

P6, "The Graduate Exam" pitch (5.10 M6/7, 55ish meters). This is THE pitch of the route, a wild one. Ice Cube brought out his AK for this one. I'd recommend you do the same. The cave is about 30 to 40 feet deep. You get an awesome belay! Chimney up, place some gear, and then chimney back down and around the roof to a fixed #2 Pecker - wild position. Hold your breath, and traverse straight right from the Pecker around the corner to a no hands rest. Now climb up the (harder than it looks!) steep groove to a difficult bulge. Mantel and follow the low angle groove to a dicey snow mushroom you pull around to a belay in an alcove. Honest! Have your head screwed on tight for this one.

P7 (M5/+, 50+ meters). For us, it was starting to get dark. Pull a couple short, M5+ roofs with bomber gear to glorious moss sticks. Traverse steep snow to the a hidden M4 ramp. This is harder than it looks. Mantel and start digging a trench up the 60/70 degree snow for maybe 50 feet. Mantel again to the top. Woohoo!!! You get an awesome position right here!!! There are two ways to get down.

Slog about 100 yards to the right of the climb (not towards BBB) to the top of Drop The Mic. Rappel info on that page. This is the safer option. You can find this by the big diving board rock at the top that protrudes out. Tat on big tree that might or might not be covered in the snow depending on the levels. Double 60s required. Safe anchors, easy pulls.

Don’t really recommend our descent of going back down the route but it works if need be. Drop the Mic wasn’t established at the time.

Rappel back down the route using whatever trees nearby. We used most of our alpine draws to rig rappel anchors. You may not find some of them. Watch out for stuck ropes.

Location Suggest change

Hike up to the start of BBB's P1, and then cut right until you can do a short scramble to a nice ledge with a tree.

Protection Suggest change

A 70m rope and a standard Dark Side rack. Big gear is useful along with a #2 and #3 Pecker.