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Across the Universe 

YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a PG13

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches, 700', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a PG13 [details]
FA: Todd Swain, Mike Cody & Dick Peterson on 8/30/1982 after five previous drilling trips.
Season: any and all
Page Views: 4,240
Submitted By: Casey Bald on Aug 10, 2007  with updates from Gunkswest

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (29)
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Al Rubin and I atop P1. Pretty scairey, I still ha...


Across the Universe is located uphill from the obvious toe of the Mt. Willard slabs. There are two possible starts:

1a. Walk uphill from the toe, and start below a flaring corner/groove moving past two bolts (5.9) slabbing up 20 feet (unprotected) to a second bolt then moving farther right passing two more bolts (5.8) to a two bolt anchor below the headwall at a nice ledge.

1b. Walk farther up hill from the previous variation gaining higher ground. Head upwards over an easy headwall joining the previous pitch at its forth bolt, move up passing the previous pitch's anchor, linking up the crux second pitch.

2. From the two bolt anchor move up and right clipping a fixed pin at the base of the head wall, climb straight up on vertical rock and clip a bolt. From some good holds do some cool trickery to move past the bolt to a jug and a pin in a fare (I would back this pin up as it is only held in the rock by a large nubbin) then launch straight up passing a nice layback flake belaying at a two bolt anchor in a water hole.

3. Run it out straight up getting occasional gear (5.5) aiming for a lone bolt even with a tree ledge on your right, clip the bolt with a long runner and make a easy traverse over to the tree ledge and belay at a two bolt anchor.

4. The Milky Way Pitch. Awesome traditionally placed bolts on 5.9 slab, follow bolts and one fixed pin to a two bolt anchor.

5. Most folks rap from here (2 ropes [even a 70m single comes up short] to the dbl bolt anchor right of the tree, then a 2 rope rap to the ground)...or run it out on 5.4 up to the tree ledge and climb any number of variations to the top of Mount Willard. (See "Upper Face" AREA)


standard rack to #2 camalot

Photos of Across the Universe Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Milky Way pitch (P4). Great pitch with awesome pos...
Milky Way pitch (P4). Great pitch with awesome pos...
Rock Climbing Photo: Nick Grant on a VERY early ascent of ATU (eb's) ma...
Nick Grant on a VERY early ascent of ATU (eb's) ma...
Rock Climbing Photo: Craig Porter floating Across the Universe   pitch ...
BETA PHOTO: Craig Porter floating Across the Universe pitch ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading the Milky Way pitch.
Leading the Milky Way pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Base Area for Across the Universe and (to the left...
BETA PHOTO: Base Area for Across the Universe and (to the left...
Rock Climbing Photo: A health run out on P3. This is where the first ge...
A health run out on P3. This is where the first ge...
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from atop P2 I believe.
The view from atop P2 I believe.
Rock Climbing Photo: Milkey Way pitch 5.9 around 1981/2
Milkey Way pitch 5.9 around 1981/2
Rock Climbing Photo: Evan on the crux, the 5.10a second pitch roof.
Evan on the crux, the 5.10a second pitch roof.

Comments on Across the Universe Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 28, 2016
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jul 12, 2008

Maybe I'm being too harsh, but 4 stars ? Sure the Milky Way pitch is cool but not that awesome and the rest of the climb is o.k. Still, nice exposure and good rock
By matthewWallace
From: Sandwich, NH
Jan 8, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

How much trad placements are on this by the sounds of it alot is bolted but run out is that correct?
By chinos
Jun 9, 2009

I believe the lone bolt on pitch three might be a pin. A fun route with excellent exposure.
By burlap submariner
Sep 14, 2009

if its not a bolt anymore than it got chopped, I'm pretty shure it was a bolt as I worked right down the street and climbed this route more times than I can remember in 2006-2008.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jan 2, 2010

I know a strange comparison but- the milky way pitch is kinda like Crest Jewel in the Valley. Except CJ is 1,200' long and better.
By Matt Nottingham
Aug 23, 2011

Climbed this route 8/13/11. Before the traverse on pitch 3 is a good bolt. I got in a small tricam after the bolt in an upwards facing flake. Because we only had one rope (oops !) We did the final pitch, then through the woods to the upper tier. Final pitch is easy terrain but very mossy, and would be a nightmare if wet. Run it out and girth hitch some sad little trees for psychological protection, traverse left through munge to a big tree with a yellow static rope and rap rings. Nice adventure.
By matthewWallace
From: Sandwich, NH
Oct 10, 2011
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

I climbed this route with my buddy Bruce today. A few thoughts: The first pitch is fun and even more fun if you start at the very bottom of te toes of the rock and make it a longer pitch. The crux P2 seems significantly harder than .10a, unless I missed something. P3 is a fun runout slab, there is a pin in the middle of the climb and a bolt for protection on the traverse. The Milky Way pitch (P4) is fantastic but not as hard as was originally expected. The 5th pitch to the trees is runout and scary if it is wet (as it was today). We continued up the route Salespitch 5.9 to bring us to the summit.
Overall this is a fantastic rock climb the only downside in my opinion is the P2 crux which seems contrived since, A. it would go much easier to the right and B. it is such a drastic and weird change from the feel of the rest of the route. Great climb though!
By Brian
From: North Kingstown, RI
Jul 9, 2012
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

I don't usually have a problem on a 10a. Either the crux move has some secret hold or sequence that I haven't figured out or it is one of the biggest sandbags in the White Mountains.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jul 9, 2012

Should be 9+ (which i said on the 2nd ascent) It helps to be tall and move your feet before your hands. I know a pretty prominent NH climber who has YET to do this move first try... and he's done the climb at least 10 times!
By Brian
From: North Kingstown, RI
Jul 10, 2012
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

You say it should be 9+ but you are you the only one who knows how to get over it at 9+? Are you 6'5"? Your prominent NH friend can't get over it first try and many of my friends who are solid 11 climbers also can't get through the move clean. Does that make sense to you? Let me know next time you are going to do it so I can come watch and I will know how do do it at 9+. I know a few local North Conway climbers who agree with me that it is a sandbag.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jul 10, 2012

Laugh a bit dude.. it's OK. no i'm not 6'5". A "5.11" climber to me is someone who can climb almost any 5.11, not just specific routes.

I have done Across enough times.. not quite worth a 2,000 mile drive.

Given the one move wonder and well protected nature of the sequence, i'm suprised that it didn't get 9+ in the first place.

Did you do it again after your first time ???
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jul 10, 2012

Come on Brian.. it's me.. you loadies would have never even given this move a rating in the Woods. Whitey would have said '5.8"

The "prominent NH local" is Al Rubin
By Brian
From: North Kingstown, RI
Jul 10, 2012
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13

Yeah but I'm getting old... Maybe I'll bring Whitey up there and he can show me the move. Out of multiple tries, I got it once and it was a desperation move off of a reachy crimp. Once I had a hard-climbing young-gun Lincoln Woods boulderer (Sean Robar) with me and he grabbed the draw after peeling off backwards. Not a 5.9+ for me.
UPDATE: I did this route again and figured out the move. Of course once I got it wired it was easier but I still think it is sandbagged at 5.10a. I watched a young gun ahead of me whip on it about 15 times pounding the rock and cursing.
By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
May 14, 2014

I love this route. It's just a great place to be. Sure, the third pitch is just easy choss and the crux is baffling and way hard for the grade---so just yank on the draw and call the whole route 8+. I worked the crux way back in my 20s and finally got it and now I just grin and pull through. And the Milky Way pitch is just plain wonderful. And don't be put off by the grade III label---it goes really fast (have done it to the top in an hour). Catch this on a perfect late September day and you will think there is no more magical place to be---the view down the valley is worth four stars, for sure!
By Russ Keane
Jul 22, 2014

We tried to do this climb yesterday.... The start was hard to find, in spite of Peter Lewis' description in the Northeast guide. (BTW Peter thanks for including this in the book, it was a nice addition, and of course well-written and passionate, which I love about your books, and photographs).

So we ended up doing "Mystery Route" which is a 5.7 that starts at the VERY bottom of that right side area with ATU. It pulls over the eyebrow bulge to the left, at a really cool 5.7 move protected with a bolt.

Basically this Mt. Willard area is a gorgeous and fun alpine-slab experience. The rock quality is excellent- Way better than I expected. And yes the view and position is breathtaking. Fun, perfect, for Crawford Notch.

My only criticism is too many bolts. It really makes that type of climb way too easy.
By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
Oct 14, 2014

Sorry you had a hard time with the start, Russ. I will try to go up there again before it snows (!) and then write a better description. As I remember it, the left-hand start (the better start, in my opinion) is about 200 feet up and right from the toe of the slab. You should be able to see the first two bolts, and then there is a looooong, up-and-right traverse (50 feet) to the 3rd bolt (little gear, but very easy).
By Robert Hall
From: North Conway, NH
Aug 7, 2015

Re' the START - check the photo labeled "Base Area of Across the Universe and Time Traveler Revisited"...there's a guy standing at the base of ATU and gear at the base of TTR. There's a description of how to get to this location in the write up for TTR.
By edward pinskey
From: bethlehem NH
Sep 8, 2015

Awesome climb! Crux didn't feel to sandbagged to me.10b max just gotta find the holds. Milky way pitch is rad, and the bolting sure keeps it interesting.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Sep 8, 2015

Welcome to lead bolting NH style baby !
By Jonathan Sykes
Apr 11, 2016

ok, my turn to chime in on this classic White Mountain route. It is most certainly a sandbag rating by today's standards. But back in the day it was right on for the ratings. There is a god awful left hand thumb press that allows one to reach the hidden thank god hold to free the crux move. My old thumb can no longer handle the move so I grab the bolt and continue because I love the climb. I will continue the tradition of the sandbag rating in my new guide, the Notches, coming out in the summer of 2016. Try the thumb press, and good luck.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Apr 11, 2016 old fucker..the route is classic NH 9+ any one who suggests higher is looking o for hero points

I did the 2nd ascent and Mike Cody said "9+, but hard"
By Ben Townsend
Apr 11, 2016

At 6'4", I can stand on tiptoe after clipping the bolt and grab the jug above the crux. Feels like 5.7 for me.

I know this isn't actually useful beta for most people. On the other hand, a dyno might be.
By Eugene Kwan 1
From: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Jun 26, 2016

This is a route that mostly involves sweating on a somewhat dirty slab in the sun. Some parts are quite run out. Falling anywhere not near a bolt or one of the relatively sparse pieces of gear would be...unfortunate. The crux may be 10a if you know exactly what you're doing, but I certainly didn't. I disliked this route--it just wasn't fun for me.

Some beta: approach from train tracks from the AMC side of the notch. There's a pretty clear trail on the right that leads up to the base. Start at the second of two oak trees at the end of the trail below a roof about 100 feet up. Bring a standard rack to #2 camalot. You'll need two ropes for the rappels.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jun 28, 2016

Guess that's why it's not a sport climb.

Run out ? welcome to NH

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