Type: Trad, 900 ft (273 m), 8 pitches, Grade III
FA: unknown
Page Views: 2,412 total · 51/month
Shared By: Darshan Ahluwalia on Dec 5, 2017
Admins: Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Vicki Schwantes, Justin Johnsen

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Access Issue: Latest updates on Covid and falcon closures. Details


Hawmkan's Escape ascends some 8 pitches and a few hundred feet of scrambling to the summit of Lower Brother. The climbing is full of that classic Yosemite character: with a long approach and descent, it is sandbagged, spicy, sometimes on questionable quality rock, awkward, burly, and requires route finding skills and perhaps a headlamp. Also, you will encounter foliage and it may snow lichen flurries in your eyes. If you like this sort of climbing and seek to gain another fantastic Yosemite summit, you will love this route. Yes, it is a great adventure.

The route begins from Michael's Ledges, up a few hundred feet from where Absolutely Free deposits you. Try to sight the route from the road or while you approach the climb. Look for the huge chimneys one-third the way up the face. Those are pitches 4 and 5.

Most of the pitches are short (100 feet or so) yet difficult to link. The only pitches I recommend to link are the middle chimney pitches (4 and 5).

Consult Don Reid's guide for a topo. Here is a pitch-by-pitch description.

P1 (5.6): A low-angle gully with some climbing over large blocks and chimneying higher up. Go left well-below a huge detached flake to gain a large ledge system. Good rock.
P2 (5.9): Step out left to gain a steep crack. Lieback this through a bulge. Continue up steep broken rock past an obvious spike/column on your left to belay below a knobby face. Questionable rock.
P3 (5.5): Continue straight up the face using small discontinuous cracks and seams for better-than-expected albeit spicy pro (Aliens, brass offsets). You are heading for the huge chimney and roof that looms above you. Belay somewhere beneath the chimney but perhaps not directly under it as the next couple of pitches have lots of loose rock. Feels more like 5.7.
P4 (5.5): Climb the easy chimney to a large ledge. This is a very easy pitch and you may not feel the need to place much pro. You can link this with the next chimney pitch. Terrible rock for this and the next pitch.
P5 (5.6): Continue up in a second chimney. Belay as soon as you emerge, below a steep wall with a nice looking hand crack. If you fail to belay low on the ledge you may be unable to find a good anchor due to the horrible rock quality.
P6 (5.9): Back on good rock, ascend a steep hand crack in the back of a recess, then up through a roof. At the top of the pitch, move the belay as far right as one can on the "thank god ledge with manzanita". A great pitch.
P7 (5.7): Look around for a good way up. I found a low-angle ramp with a flaring crack in a corner (poor pro) about 30 feet to the right of where we belayed. I went up past a tree and into a chimney. I belayed at the top of the chimney at a tree, at the base of yet another chimney. I was hoping to link this with the next pitch but rope drag and fatigue anchored me down. Full of flora.
P8 (5.8): Climb the dirty corner and chimney system. Arrive at a manzanita-covered ledge and belay in the shade of a huge coniferous tree.
P9 (easy fifth, 70m): Climb up past the trunk of the large tree, gain a rounded slab and up about 30 feet unprotected 5.2 and then 3rd class to the top.
From the end of P9, the summit is within walking distance now, though some may want to stay roped up on the exposed ridge.

Don't forget I mentioned the ratings are sandbagged.


Hawkman's Escape is climbed from the large ledge system splitting Lower Brother, Michael's Ledges. You can climb Absolutely Free if you want to add some additional pitches (see approach for Absolutely Free). Or you can just walk up Michael's Ledges.

To approach from Michael's Ledges, park at a large rock-lined pullout with a huge oak tree, the first pullout on the right past the left-side parking for Absolutely Free. Walk on flat ground into a stream bed/gully towards Lower Brother. Stay in the drainage as you ascend and keep your eye on Michael's Ledges. At some point you'll need to climb through the forested hillside to gain the ledges. The ledge is narrow, so you will eventually find a trail heading up the ledges. Hike the trail for a long ways. You may recognize a cleared 2-person bivy spot near the wall. Just beyond this bivy is an inviting gully heading up the wall. This is the first pitch.

To approach from Absolutely Free, after getting to Michael's Ledges, continue up and right a couple hundred feet to find the first pitch.

To descend from the summit, walk North along the ridge to the base of the large wall of Middle Brother. There is really only one way to go since you're on a ridge.

From the the base of Middle, there are two options: go down to the East to eventually get back on Michael's Ledges or go left down the West slabs. Both options require several rappels and some down climbing.

We chose to go down the West slabs. It took us about 6-8 rappels with a 70m rope (some down climbing). Bring webbing to rap off.

Once back on the ground, the fun begins: about an hour (or more if dark) of very steep, forest stomping down a drainage, sometimes cliffing out, some times slipping on the forest duff, sometimes wrestling trees or grasping plants, never on a trail. Hold tight little roots. It was dark for us so maybe it is possible to find a trail.


On the small end: Aliens and some small-medium brass offset nuts.
On the large end: nothing too large, perhaps fist-sized gear (#4 BD).
Lots of slings.
A knife and extra webbing for the necessary rappels.


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