Air China Flight 924
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Yee haw! This line offers a good ol fashioned trad adventure in an increasingly domesticated canyon. The climbing is never too hard but the protection is just sparse and/or sketchy enough to keep your attention. The rock ranges from perfect (bullet quartzite on the first pitch) to kinda chossy (white Jobsite-esque stuff on sections of the fourth pitch), but is pretty good overall. Climbing this line will make you feel hardcore, even if youre not.
I recommend that anyone who gets on this route be very confident in their climbing ability and ability to place trad gear. While the climbing is never too hard, youve got to keep a cool head. Dont let that scare you away, though. Its a fun route and hey, its only 5.8, right? How hard can it be...
Check out route and beta photos to supplement the beta below. Pitch lengths are approximate.
Pitch 1: Start climbing in the cleft just left of a diamond-shaped feature. Follow this crack past a couple bushes and a 5.6 crux or two to a big ledge. The climbing is better than it looks. Set up a gear belay in a crack in a rock on the west side of the belay ledge. 5.6, 185
Pitch 2: Start up the nice-looking-but-short cracks in front of the belay, past a couple ledges. This will bring you to the base of another relatively steep cliff. Get some gear in and make some devious moves up the face, getting gear in some horizontal cracks and pockets. Head up to a bush/small tree, sling the tree, and belay on the large, sloping ledge above the tree. Use the wide crack (at the base of where the cliff meets the ledge) and a crack a few feet above it to set up the belay. 5.7+ PG-13, 165
Pitch 3: Walk/traverse right and down along the ledge, avoiding and passing a steep, dark, chossy dihedral. Climb up to a bush and onto the face above. Dont place any gear until you get onto the face above; rope drag would be absolutely heinous. The climber will be out of sight from the belay once he passes the bush. This pitch is similar to the previous pitch in terms of gear and climbing, but is a little easier and not as steep. The quality of gear is about the same, maybe even a bit worse. Belay at the base of the next cliff/pitch on an obvious big ledge. Use a short vertical crack to set up the belay. 5.7 PG-13, 120
Pitch 4: This is the most exciting pitch of the route, and is also the crux. Start in a shallow corner and climb up near the left arête of the cliff. Head toward a small roof. Instead of turning the roof, follow a crack that goes up and right, toward the corner/dihedral. Follow this to the top. Gear placements are relatively plentiful, but the rock is not very good in places and some of the cracks are flaring. Belay at the top using a couple horizontal cracks. Solid 5.8 PG-13, 95
Descent: From the top of the last pitch, walk north and then east into a drainage/basin, following the path of least resistance. Youll soon be at the top of a scree slope and see a tree growing in a notch in front of you. Instead of going through the notch, head north up some tame class 3 slabs (at the top of the scree gully) and then cut east along a vegetated (grass and some small plants) ledge system. Follow this over and then down. We found a faint trail that took us down toward (but a little west of) the Appendage. Follow the trail into the stream bed and back onto the main trail near George.
The route starts across the stream from the chlorination plant. Right before you get to the plant, there will be a trail cutting left down into the stream bed. Follow this trail across the streambed and up through some trees to the base of the route. The route starts to the left of a large diamond- or triangle-shaped formation on the cliff. See topo photo.
A set of C3s (these things are awesome!!!) and Camalots to #5, with doubles in Camalots from the smallest double-axled one to #3. Set of nuts. Tons of slings (we brought 7 and I wish we had more). 60m rope. Cordalettes or whatever you use to set up trad belays. Helmets. We took tricams and a #6 cam but didnt use them.
Christian topping out on pitch 4.
Christian starting pitch 3. Don't fall, buddy!
Me at the belay at the base of pitch 3.
Me on pitch 2. Sun! Woooo! It was freezing in the ...
Christian on pitch 1. It's better than it looks.
By Tristan Higbee
From: Ogden, UT
Nov 15, 2008
We climbed the route ground up, onsight, with no bolts or pitons and no falls. It was really exciting because we didnt know if the line would go or not. While not the best route ever, the experience as a whole was pretty fantastic. It was a lot longer than we thought it would be. And there are great ledges at the end of each pitch. Get on it!
By Christian "crisco" Burrell
From: PG, Utah
Nov 16, 2008
Quite an adventure! We were pretty sure sections of it would go fine but pitch #2 looked a bit runout from below. Be prepared to search a bit here and there for the best pro. but it is available for the trained eye.
Luckily Trisatn found just enough little spots to slam pro into for one of his best onsite trad leads on #2. I was really impressed with what he put together on this one.
We traversed down and right to start the third pitch as the short steep wall above the belay is pretty crappy rock, you could go for it and maybe get it ok but it would be really ballsy!
The last pitch was something I will remember for a while:
What looked like a continuous small crack grooved out and forced us to move farther left that originally intended and then way back right. The high traverse is interesting. The rock quality lessens a bit here and there is some fun exposure (not bad but you will feel like you are way up there). The crux of the whole route for me was right at the end of this traverse. You reach a good crack again and think you are all good but you have to make one or two last moves on some pretty steep rock before you can really sink a good hand jam.
The podium you finish on is really great!
Get out your gear and give it a go!
By Darren Knezek
Nov 16, 2008
Looks fun in some sick twisted chossy kind of way. Thanks for adding more pitches to my ever-growing list.
If you do Jungle Rot Slot, let me know how it compares!
Good job guys!
By Tristan Higbee
From: Ogden, UT
Feb 18, 2010
I don't think even Christian knows where this route name came from... A couple years ago I was crazy about this American girl I met in China, and we started dating on September 24, or 9-24. The relationship was up and down, up and down. Air China Flight 924.
Aug 14, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13
the last pitch is where it's at. I thought it was some of the cooler trad climbing I've done in RC, but I wasn't crazy about pitches 1 and 3. Use really long runners on the first pitch and you'll probably have a better time with it, but it's still some of the bushy-est climbing I've ever done.
I personally felt like P3 was closer to a 5.9 than a 5.7, but that's just my opinon. I felt like it was the crux of the route in terms of climbing while p2 was the crux for gear placement. Too bad more people haven't done this one.
Follow Tristian's directions for the descent as best you can becuase to try to descend by going west adds an extra hour to your descent.