Type: Sport, 300 ft (91 m), 3 pitches
FA: November 2018
Page Views: 1,104 total · 31/month
Shared By: Chris Wright on Nov 9, 2018
Admins: Kevin MP, Nate Ball, Micah Klesick

You & This Route

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Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Nesting Closures Details


There are a lot of reasons why Burning Churches may never be a classic. The crux is hard, the rock is crumbly, and worst of all for the main area, it's more than one pitch. That said, it's got a few things going for it as well. The position is spectacular, the movement is bewildering and excellent and one hundred percent Smith, the rock isn't bad (by local standards) where it matters, and it weaves its way up a gorgeous orange face to a breathtaking summit right there in the heart of the frontside. Plus you don't even have to go for much of a walk to find an adventure.

[P1 - 5.11+ or 5.11a] There are a few ways to start the climb depending on whether you prefer 5.12 sport or 5.11 trad as you climb existing terrain to get to the route. The first option allows you to climb from bottom to top with nothing more than draws, but it does involve a less-than-stellar section down low on The Clam. For that version, start near the base of the Testament Slab and scramble onto the block to the right of The Left Side of the Beard route and climb past three bolts to the top at 5.8 or 5.9. Either belay there, or continue up The Clam to its anchor. The Clam is alleged to have gotten more difficult over the years as holds have reportedly broken, but it feels like not super-fun .11+/.12- at the moment with a tricky boulder problem off the ledge giving way to enjoyable 5.10 to the anchors. The difficulty of the climbing at the start of the route may recommend belaying from the top of The Beard, but you can pull through the crux if you need to.

Your other starting options involve climbing Wartley's Revenge either to the top of the first or second pitch. It's possible to either cut left on the ledge at the top of the first pitch and join The Clam just above the crux for the enjoyable 5.10 to the belay, or link the first two pitches of Wartley's, and join Burning Churches in the middle of the second pitch. For this option belay on bolts just above the hanging belay/lower-off at the top of Wartley's P2 and continue from there, skipping The Clam and the first few bolts of BC entirely.

[P2 - 5.11a/b] Climb up and right from the top of The Clam to clip the anchor at the top of the second pitch of Wartley's Revenge and continue up the bolted ramp past a tricky crux to a hanging belay in the middle of the face.

[P3 - 5.12b] Climb the right side of the face before entering a conspicuous section of black rock high on the wall below an obvious, imposing roof. Get a rest, then launch up some excellent steep climbing to a bouldery crux on thin holds to reach the base of the roof and a pumpy traverse out left and around it. From here the rock sadly deteriorates to awful, but the climbing eases from 5.12 to 5.7 and the challenge becomes finding holds you can pull on. Unpleasant pawing leads to heaven-sent pockets and a few more bolts to the top.

Descent: Once again, you have options. From the top of the route, traverse towards the summit via a brief, easy ridge and make a short rappel from another anchor to the big ledge on climber’s right between The Friar and The Abbott and another bolt anchor, then down to the top of the second pitch of Wartley’s and from there to the ground. It may also be possible to rappel from the anchor at the top of the climb to the anchor at the base of the final pitch, but the author can’t recall how feasible this is due to the overhang at the top and the swinging required to get right to the anchor. Apologies for the ambiguity, but on the first ascent of the final pitch I lowered back to the belay as I stripped the draws and didn’t have to deal with the rappel. If rapping from the bottom of P3, a single rap will get you to the top of The Clam, and another will have you on the ground.


Start either on The Beard/Littleneck or Wartley's and keep going up.


A 70m rope, 16 draws and a few slings if taking The Clam start, or the same plus gear if starting via Wartley's.