Type: Sport, 800 ft, 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: Chris Fralick & Tyler Adams 2010
Page Views: 5,965 total · 138/month
Shared By: Erik Keever on Apr 4, 2016
Admins: Nate Ball, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

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UPDATE: There is a new upper bolt line that goes all the way to the top

A brief history of Morgul Vale & link to topo:

"Wayne told us we should go up on Gigantor and add some more bolts and make it climbable. In its current condition it was surely a death route, not attracting any repeats other than Wayne him self. Now I normally wouldn't be too into fully retro bolting old routes but with the blessing of the first ascensionist, being his idea it seemed like a must do. Not even knowing and still not knowing where the actual route went made it basically a first ascent in its own right. So we created the eight pitch 5.9 Morgul Vale aka Gigantor V2.0."

The P2 anchor sits atop a giant ledge. Right of MV is Ian's Route which goes to the same P2 anchor. Left (on the start ledge's hump) is Gigantor which provides a scary runout path to same.

The Morgul Vale:
P1: 5.8, 6 bolts + belay bolt. Scramble up the left of the start ledge & around a hump to the belay bolt. [The left bolt hanger is upside down as of 6/3]
P2: 5.7, 4 bolts. Progressively wider-spaced bolts protect easier moves en route to the next ledge system. Pass the 1st anchor going up and right and you'll be directly under the P3 start.
P3: 5.9+, 7 bolts. The technical crux; Right hand clips are the order of the day (much harder, and very much dirtier, otherwise).
P4: 5.7, 7 bolts. An enjoyable, easy, and well bolted pitch.
--- The climbing gets more alpine above here
P5: 5.7, 3 bolts. Some 20 feet up, bolts with black hangers appear. After the third eases your nerves, shuffle left. A trad placement before one last nontrivial move will ease nerves.
P6: 5.8, 6 bolts. Your choice, up over or around under the boulder. Left, then up. Long slings help with drag. It is easy to miss the P6 anchor if you don't already know where it is. If you're well past the last clip, go right onto the "meadow" and look back for it. Don't keep going, you can't reach the P7 anchor from P5 even with a 70.

--- Original Morgul Vale line
P7a: 4th class/5.4, 1 bolt. Clamber up a series of big shoulders and onto a low-angle slab. Carefully pick your way toward the unmistakable U-shaped ramp/chute, unprotected. One bolt at the ramp entrance eases nerves (and redirects the rope) for a few 5.easy moves before the anchor. If you only have 1 rope, this is a point of no return (P7a is 150' long).
P8a: 5.7?, gear + natural. Trad placements are possible in the left crack (We used smaller cams & stoppers). The angle is low but the climbing is delicate and the edges friable. Escape out of the trench up to the hillside by the scrawny tree and scramble to a belay at a large tree. This pitch rains fist-size missiles when the leader leaves the channel.

From the lower tree anchor, scramble to a group of trees (incl a large white one), rope optional. Unrope and enjoy carefully clambering over person-sized blocks with excellent friction (but do avoid pulling any of them out...). At the lower summit, there is an anchor with two fatty hangars; This is for climbers scrambling up from the new Morgul Vale / Barad Dur.

After taking in the view, begin scrambling left (away from the river) along the ridge towards the true summit and the walkoff (see descent / descent topo below)

--- New Morgul Vale line
There is now a bolted line that ends at the same point as Barad Dur. I suppose this "Morgul Vale 2.0".

"P7b:" Walk 50 feet over an inclined meadow towards the ampitheater and find bolts at the first headwall.
P8b: 5.6, 3 bolts: A brief jaunt over the first wall to a big ledge introduces the style of the remainder of the climb: Big moves over alternate low-angle slab and steep faces.
P9b: 5.8, 7(?) bolts: A fun encounter with a dihedral leads to a crux finding holds and manteling onto a deluxe size belay ledge.
P10b: 5.8, 6(?) bolts: More block crawling includes a brief encounter with a harder corner and tops out at the northeast corner of Wolf.

Links with a 70: P1+2, P3+4 barely (length ~68m), P5+6 (boat anchor drag). P8b+P9b or P9b+P10b.

The new line is rappellable all the way back down. Trying to get from P8b start, over the side notch, back directly to the start of P6, is tempting but I don't think a single 70 will reach.

To summit: Traverse the summit ridge towards an intimidating rise ahead. A brief stint of easy but poorly protected 5th class climbing on crap rock goes up the right side skyline. Proceed with walkoff.

Location & Descent

Getting there:
Park on roadside at the Arch (unmistakable), hike up, turn right, walk under/past the arch, up a slope [which is eroding/worsening every year :(], to an obvious clearing and start ledge.

Up to P6, and at any point on the newer variation, you can rappel the route with a single 70.

It's close, but I do not think a single 70 will reach from the pitch 7 (meadow-walk) anchor, over the side, down to pitch 5. When pulling the rope off p5, whip it right or it'll likely get caught.

From the new line, walkoff is as for Barad Dur; Traverse the summit ridge. Perform a final low-5th class scramble up the right side. There's a 1-bolt belay, and a horn to sling halfway for pro, and a 2-bolt anchor at top. This anchor is where the original line finishes. Resume summit ridge traverse towards the chute & the true summit.

From the true summit, go back down the unexposed chute (towards the river). From the bottom of the chute, follow worn-in switchbacks to relatively level ground.

Walk roughly a quarter mile south-west. Almost immediately you must pass an unnervingly narrow walkable path, between sand (and steep dropoff) left, and higher inclination to your right: I was unnerved enough to put my rock shoes back on here.

Trot southwest across a seemingly endless hillside, with the imposing summit ridge to your right and a series of immense gullies to your left. You'll eventually walk across a field covered in moss - if you haven't reached it, not there yet.

Eventually there will be one more big ridge ahead: Continuing southwest past this, the ground slopes downward into a bush-choked gulley. Stop. From the lookout point ahead, look southeast (left, towards the river sound & the road): This big ridge is the right side of the descent gulley; It will have a small and a big tower sticking up near its bottom.

Sit down and begin downmanteling about 1000'. The bedrock is solid, but there's a lot of loose pieces teetering at the top. The path gets cleaner as you go, as rain runoff sweeps the lower extent clean. At the base of the chute, a hiking trail appears. When you reach the exposed patch, go across the scree, not down. You'll pop out onto NF-15 a fair bit downhill of where you parked.

Descent topo including GPS coordinates:

The walk off from Wolf isn't trivial. It is not obvious on sight and there are no arrow signs. If you go down the wrong gulley, there is a very real chance of a fatal fall. It would be a good idea to first walkoff with someone who's done it before.


P1-6 are bolts.

Orginal line:
P7 is bolt (singular).
P8 is gear + trees.

New line:
P7b is a meadow stroll
P8b-10b are bolts.

3-4 slingdraws should be plenty. A 'biner of nuts might come in handy once or twice even on the new line.