Type: Trad, Alpine, 400 ft (121 m), 6 pitches, Grade II
FA: Thomas Dinwiddie, Roger Zimmerman, 1970
Page Views: 128 total · 14/month
Shared By: Brandon Marshal on Jun 7, 2023
Admins: Mike Snyder, Taylor Spiegelberg, Jake Dickerson

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Description Suggest change

Man O' War follows a proud and appealing line up the intimidating southeast face of the Ship's Prow, eventually transitioning to the east face in the vicinity Cardiac Aretes. The route was graded 5.8 at the time of first ascent (1970), but we thought spicy 5.9 was more appropriate. With three consecutive pitches of 5.9, some lacking in protection, Man O' War is more sustained, serious and adventurous than its modern, classic, neighbor to the right.

Positives for this route include sustained difficult climbing, a variety of climbing styles, solid rock and excellent crux pitch exposure. Negatives include often sparse protection, a weird traverse between pitches three and four and somewhat dirty, gritty, rock on the two hardest pitches. With repeat ascents this route could clean up to be a classic on par with Cardiac, Dihedral of Horrors and Annals of Time. The original line may have skirted the layback flake on pitch three, but I recommend it. This is a description of Man O' War as we climbed it. 

Approach: See Cardiac Aretes, Dihedral of Horrors, etc.

  • P1*** (5.7R): Start on the far right side of the approach slab as for all Ship's Prow routes. Gain a thin flake and place protection as high as possible, then forge into ground fall territory on 5.7 friction. An alternate easier start might be possible in a trough to the right. Pass a tree and belay at the terminus of grassy ramp.
  • P2** (5.7): Ascend a blocky left facing corner with a fun layback crack, heading right towards the base of the southeast face. Pull through a notch onto moderate slabs with a large flake. Place your last gear in this flake and climb a long sequence of 5.5R slab to a grassy ledge with a large tree for belay. As of 2023 there are bail slings on this tree.
  • P3*** (5.9 PG13): This long "pitch" includes pitches three and four detailed in the Ortenburger-Jackson Guidebook. The "stance belay" listed for the original pitch three seemed inadequate, unless you like belaying off flared cams at waist height on a tiny ledge. This pitch wanders a lot, so if you don't have double ropes it may be worth setting an intermediate belay above the layback flake described below, on the arete crest, before the traverse. We did the whole "pitch" with double ropes which mitigated drag. As for the climbing - proceed directly up from the belay tree to a second smaller tree. Sling this tree as it will be your last pro for a while. A right trending layback flake will be visible directly above, leading to the arete. Climb either directly up unprotectable bulging 5.7 slabs or jungle the tree and continue up the trough leading right, until you can traverse back left to the layback flake on a small ledge, also with no protection, maybe 5.5. Layback the burly but well protected flake at 5.9 and proceed to the arete. Consider a belay here, or place a piece with a long sling to protect your follower. Hand traverse on the lower of two ledges back onto the meat of the southeast face following a jug rail with good edges but no protection, to the end of the ledge, near a large detached death flake (5.6R). Place some marginal gear and begin up the slightly overhanging black wall on gritty intimidating edges (5.9 PG13). This pitch felt especially wild because there are no continuous cracks for protection, instead, climb with faith and get rewarded by a few random but solid gear placements in the odd seam, crack or flake. Proceed up and right on slabs to the base of the prominent and final roof of the upper headwall, belaying from horizontals on the southeast face or around the arete crest on the east face. A truly adventurous ride!
  • P4* (5.9): On the right side of the arete crest, the east face, many cracks will be found. We, and the FA, climbed the second crack reached after rounding the arete. This crack has a roof below and leans aggressively right on dirty, but solid, black rock. Pull the juggy roof (5.9+) and layback/jam up the crack on insecure slabs (5.9). When the crack relents and the terrain eases, proceed directly up (5.7) and belay from a pleasant hollow. If this pitch wasn't so dirty it would be three stars.
  • P5* (5.7): Climb blocky terrain above the belay to the summit. Many paths are possible.

Descent: See Cardiac Aretes, Dihedral of Horrors, etc.

(note: a stuck cam in a roof crack up and left of pitch three, on the southeast face, is indicative of D.C.D. (Death Canyon Direct), a 5.10 variation listed in the OJ guidebook)

Location Suggest change

Southeast Face of Ship's Prow, left of Cardiac Arete's, right of Edge Of Horror

Protection Suggest change

Teton 5.9 Rack to 3 inches. Many long slings!

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