Type: Trad, 1200 ft (364 m), 9 pitches, Grade IV
FA: FFA: October 10, 2020 - Chris Koppl, Brian Prince
Page Views: 1,088 total · 347/month
Shared By: Chris Koppl 1 on Nov 30, 2020
Admins: Mike Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Latest updates on Covid and 2020 visits. Details

About the Route

The one you’ve been waiting for! This route ascends a prominent crack system on the south buttress of Liberty Cap. The route is stacked with solid 5.10 crack climbing, so bring your endurance and tape gloves for this excellent car-to-car free climbing route! The route is well protected and climbs quite favorable sizes, most of the cracks are either finger or hand sized with mercifully few wide cracks. 

*Chris Koppl established the line solo from January 10-14, 2020. 

Route Description

Pitch 1: 5.10d (6 bolts) - a hand sized piece protects the opening moves to reach the first bolt. Climb the well-protected, gently overhanging wall and bust a final move to reach a large sloping ramp. Either belay here (gear 0.75-1”), or continue up and left around the corner where you reach a stance. If climbing it as one pitch beware that the rope can get pinched in the crack. (gear belay, 0.4-0.5”). 

Pitch 2: 5.11a - “The Reach” - Climb up and left, then down climb to a stance while protecting your follower. Place a cam and dig deep using your mojo to bridge the blankness. (This move may be height dependent, but can easily be done as a pendulum at A0). Mandatory tree climbing (?!) will take you to a nice exposed belay stance (1 bolt, gear small to large).

Pitch 3: 5.10b - a user-friendly right facing corner takes you to a short roof, punctuated by a lovely bush which grew out of the cliff with the specific intended purpose to be yarded on by climbers! Continue up thinning cracks to a stance just below the chimney/roof (1 bolt, plus gear).

Pitch 4: 5.11a (1 bolt) - “The Golden Scallop” - head up the right facing corner, complete with deluxe double cracks for pro. Jam those sweaty palms through several undercling jams before finally busting up and left into a shaded chimney. Here you may find yourself performing the starfish squeeze, protected by smaller gear and guarded by a tricky exit. This leads you into a section of glorious thin hands with a stupendous view of Nevada Falls in the background. The crowds might start cheering here! A bolt protects the step-around into the cave, or you can belay from the face for a tremendous photo opportunity (1 bolt, plus small gear). 

*A variation to pitch 4 bypasses the squeeze chimney and upper section by staying right on roughly hand-sized jams.

Pitch 5: 5.12b (2 fixed pins, 1 bolt) - “The Shrug” - Living up to its namesake, the crux of the route involves curious movement while traversing under a bombay roof, with a delicate dance of slab to surpass the ensuing blankness. Two fixed pins protect this short section, which is easy for the leader to try numerous times, and nearly impossible for the follower to try more than once. Clip a bolt that protects a short but stout hand traverse across a devious dike with micro feet. Keep it together and head up the intermittent cracks and flakes, with a short wide section that is easily laybacked. Finish up the tapering crack! (1 bolt, plus gear).

Pitch 6: 5.10b - Climb up to a large shark fin projecting from the wall and layback/mantle into the scoop. Press onwards as twin cracks lead directly into a series of ominous stacked chockstones that you must yard on, you must! Belay on a nice ledge up and left, while avoiding the detached but secure giant block next to the anchor (1 bolt, plus gear).

Pitch 7: 5.10c - More jamming, mostly in the hand sizes! Pass a thin fin of rock and make your way up the long right facing corner, fire in a piece at the top to protect the step left to the anchor (1 bolt, gear 0.5”).

Pitch 8: 5.10d  (1 bolt) - “The Headwall” - the hero pitch of the route! Traverse left to the base of the crack that splits the proud headwall above. A bolt eases the mind where the right side of the headwall is stress cracked. A good stance provides a rest before the crack widens to 3” and the angle begins to ease off. At the top it’s up to you to make your way up and left over blocky terrain until you reach a great ledge, being mindful of both body and rope so as not to dislodge any rocks on the trail below (bolted anchor).

Pitch 9: 5.10a (1 bolt) - Head left to join the beautiful large right facing dihedral that sweeps you to the summit. Jam up the cruiser crack and marvel as it widens. Plug a bomber #4 cam and commit to an unprotected 30ft (or more) positive lieback that clocks in at around 5.9+ (#5 optional, but not useful on any other pitch). Layback up the bulge, and eventually stem right as an edge provides a welcome break from the mental workout. Shift right onto the face, where a bolt protects fun face climbing on easy flakes. Fire the final exit move and look for the single bolt anchor (are you seeing the trend yet?) set back on the face directly in front of you! (1 bolt, medium-sized gear).

*Enjoy the summit! The topout is on an epic ledge, and the summit of Liberty Cap is pretty spectacular with awesome views of Half Dome!

Protection

70m rope (if walking off), triples to 2", double 3", single 4", optional 5" (see pitch 9). A few longer slings. Tape or crack gloves (the rock is a bit sharp).

Approach

Park at Happy Isles and head up either the Mist Trail or John Muir Trail until you reach the top of Nevada Falls. Start early to beat the crowds! The trails merge just before you reach the restroom, which is your landmark for the cross-country portion of the trail. When you reach the switchback immediately past the restroom you’ll want to casually duck into the bushes, heading up a faint drainage towards the formation. Stash your packs somewhere near here if planning to do the walk-off, NOT at the base!

Follow the path of least resistance to the base, which is best done by trending up and left and requires route-finding ability, possibly a short tree climb, scrambling up and over slabs, and a love of manzanita. Don’t despair, when you finally reach the base of Liberty Cap the travel becomes much easier!  Plan on this portion of the hike taking 60 minutes. Wear long pants.

When you finally arrive at the base, keep walking west (left) until you reach a large stand of trees. Just before you’re about to walk off the cliff you have arrived at the start of the route (look for the tan bolt hangers). 

Descent

The descent is via the standard walk-off on the backside of the formation. This requires climbing with your approach shoes on your harness!

*It’s possible to retreat from the route using two ropes via single bolt rappels. To do the final rappel you need to skip the Pitch 2 anchor and aim directly for a large bush on a ledge over the start of the route (rap off the bush), as the first pitch anchor lacks a bolt. 

If you need to bail but only have a single rope or want to leave gear to back up the single bomber stainless Rawl 5 piece bolts it could get costly quick. Much better to commit to the send! The entire route is C1.

Additional Considerations

**The route is directly over the super popular Mist Trail, so dropping gear is highly discouraged! Every effort has been made to clean all loose rock from the route, with the exception of pitches 7 and 8, see pitch descriptions (this “loose” rock should be easily avoidable). 

*The route is south facing, don’t forget water!

*If doing the walk-off be sure not to leave any gear directly at the base of the route!

Photos