Archer-McLanahan is a trad climb that starts easy, gets hard, then eases off to fun jugs toward the end. The position is 3 stars, and the climbing is average except for a few fun sections of huge hueco climbing on steep rock, but the broken rock on the crux pitch and the lichens on the whole upper section earn a 2-star overall rating. The crux bolt was replaced by Hildenbrand/Bubb in association with the ASCA, and a permit from the park. The route is now much better than before. See Historical note below:
- Historical Note: "Combine the bad rock at the crux with the insecure moves and a button-head bolt that is the worst bolt I have ever clipped at the crux, and you're in for a relatively interesting experience that you may not be able to control. I was close to giving it the bomb. Were the bolt replaced, I'd give the route a better review."
Start at the base of popular routes such as Pseudo Sidetrack, Blackwalk, the Bulge, etc...
P1 & P2 (5.4, 300' +): Start up the obvious left-leaning ramp of Psuedo Sidetrack (5.4 S) for 2 pitches to the higher of 2 juniper trees on 'Lower Juniper Ledge.' This is the mostly dead tree and I don't think I'd bounce around on it. With a 70M rope you can make it to the lower tree with maybe 40-50' of simul-climbing and then move the belay up 50' to the higher one if you don't want to build a mid-ramp belay or go out of your way to an back from the old 'tree belay.' There is no longer a tree at that belay, but there is a bolt and a tied-off horn with red webbing (missing on 8/'06, replaced?). You will pass a variable number of pins along the way and a few great gear placements, all of which are best with long or very long slings (2-4') to avoid drag.
P3 (5.10c, 100'): From the second tree, continue up the ramp 20' or so and gain the bottom of a left-facing dihedral, climb up into this and place pro, continuing up to the top of it, passing a newly replaced bolt on your left. The old one was horrible and had obviously held some wicked falls. It was not in question if this bolt will fail if you fall on it. The question is if the manky, partly-pulled, bent, rusted split shaft with the rusted, twisted head, or rusted leeper hanger will fail when the hanger breaks, when the bolt shears, or when the head pops off. Think about that for a while as you continue through the crux. Repay your anchor Karma by reporting and replaceing old nasty equipment or supporting the ASCA. You probably won't feel like you'll break every bone in your body if you fall now. Continue up to the top of said dihedral and pull left and up to mount the ledge above it on very poor rock and gain a diagonal crack (no pro yet) and work left. Work left and clip another new, good bolt (was an old, rusted, bad star-drive bolt). You will have more pro soon. Climb up to under the big roof with easier pro and build a belay. This roof is the same as for Anthill Direct, but is around the corner to the East and is not 'closed' for falcons. The belay is in a comfortable notch with very good gear. One small fixed stopper was there when we arrived- and it remains.
P4/P5 (5.8, 260'): Work up and right on jugs through steep rock to meet the roof and track to the right under it. You can climb through the roof just left of or directly under a small-to-medium tree above, this would be a 120' pitch to the tree. The tree is shrubby though and does not afford a good belay, so find one with gear before or after or simul-climb. I went to the high ridge in 260' feet of climbing on a 70M rope (40' of simul-climbing). Good gear abounds early on, but good belays are hard to find on the 100' of slab you finish on.
After the crux pitch, BTW this line can be taken up and left through excellent climbing to join Anthill Direct at its crux. 2 stars done that way, for sure.
To get down, follow the East Slabs descent as for Anthill Direct.
This route gets morning to afternoon sun and is a scorcher on hot days.
A standard light rack of stoppers and cams to 3.5". The crux is "protected" by the mankiest bolt I have ever clipped.