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3. Big Wall
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Benedictus/ Masterpiece T 
Dreamin' T,S,TR 
Ghost (Clean Aid), The T 
Ghost, The T 
Ghostrider T 
Hierophant Tower T 
Labyrinth Wall Direct T 
Magical Mystery Tour .(The Girdle /Traverse of Cannon Cliff) T 
One Drop of Water. V T 
VMC Direct Direct T 


YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 11 pitches, 1000', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.11c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: Tom Callaghan, Mark Bowen, and Tom Nonis, July 1999 (first complete free ascent)
Page Views: 3,543
Submitted By: Rich Brereton on Aug 21, 2014

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This classic linkup allows an all-free ascent of one of the proudest sections of the Big Wall. It has a complex history with some sections first climbed in the 70s and others in the 90s. Jon Sykes's guidebook (Secrets of the Notch, 1st ed., 2001) describes the route and history quite well. Here I paraphrase his descriptions of pitches 5-11, because I have only done the first four, which are far and away the most popular. You'll find that the climbing on the first four is as good as on VMCDD or Lab Wall, making these some of Cannon's very best pitches. Sykes's book is a great resource, but unfortunately it's out of print. You might be able to find a copy at EMS or IME.

The route starts about 100' right of Labyrinth Wall Direct and 100' left of YMC Dike at a nice belay ledge on top of a 50' buttress. Locate a large roof about 100' off the deck - it's the roof that the first pitch of Lab Wall skirts the left edge of. If you are standing directly underneath the right edge of this roof, the start of Benedictus is up the jumbly buttress to your right. (Underneath the right side of this roof is a line of bolts belonging to the Lowther Memorial route. Benedictus is 20' further right.)

1. Climb off the ledge up and right to a hollow flake, continue to a very shallow left-facing corner, and clip a bolt. Layback up the corner past a pin; the short crux is about 5.11a if you're tall, a little harder if you're not. Step left to climb flakes and edges, 5.8 R, to a large ledge and a bolt anchor. 75'

2. The sick-looking finger crack splitting the clean face directly above you is your target. Climb up and slightly right through a bulge at maybe 5.9 and continue to the base of the finger crack. Layback, fingerlock, and crimp your way up this classic stretch of rock, clocking in at low-end 5.11. Gear belay at a stance underneath the roof, or link into pitch 3. 100'

3. Follow the roof leftward as it angles upward and turns into a chimney in a corner. Chimney or layback, whatever you do it's about 5.9. When the corner ends move right to a nice stance with a bolted belay. 40'

4. Climb up and slightly right to gain a left-trending ramp. Climb the ramp up to a shallow right-facing corner/flake feature. Clip a bolt and climb through a short crux, 5.11a with the right sequence. Belay at the nice ledge atop the flake. 75'

You can rappel from here with a single 70m rope. From this point Benedictus Direct goes straight up the face on bolts, then climbs the overlap with two hook moves. The face goes free at 5.11d/5.12a to underneath the overlap, then the Insult to Injury variation (5.12a/b) traverses right. Another free variation goes left from the belay atop the pitch 4 flake and is described below. I can't comment on the state of the bolts or pins or how necky the R-rated sections are.

5. Climb up and left following a seam at 5.9R. Reach a stance, clip a bolt, continue left past a second bolt and a first crux at 5.11c. Join up with Lab Wall's fifth pitch, climb the 5.11 headwall to a small ledge and a two-bolt belay shared with Lab Wall. 100'

6. From this belay, Lab Wall goes up and left and When I Paint My Masterpiece goes right. Climb up and right to a horizontal crack, continue right past two pins at 5.10b. Climb through the overlap on large holds at 5.9+ R, and up the face to a two bolt belay at the next overlap. 120'

7. Traverse left then climb up to a crack below the overlap. Step right, clip a bolt, and undercling over the overlap past a second bolt, 5.11b. Move right to a stance and clip a third bolt, then climb the slab up and left past a fourth bolt at 5.9 R to join Walk on the Wild Side. Finish the pitch with a rightward 5.10 R traverse to a bolted belay at the grassy ledge. 100'

8. Instead of moving right to YMC Dike as you would for WOTWS, climb straight up the face at 5.9 R to a bolt, then step left at 5.10d to gain a right-leaning arch. Lab Wall Direct joins here. Climb the arch at 5.9 to a two-bolt belay. 80'

9. Climb left past a dowel, continue left at 5.9 and then turn up and right. Lab Wall Direct goes left here. Climb straight up the face, clipping three bolts, until you reach the shrubs. Somewhere in here is a 5.10d crux. 85'
According to Sykes you can rappel from here, though I don't know what is required for ropes.

10-11. Up a dirty slab to some bushes at around 5.6, then take the line of least resistance up nondescript shrubby licheny rock to the top. 300' or so


On the Big Wall, right of Labyrinth Wall Direct and left of YMC Dike. Starts atop the 50' buttress down and right of the 150-foot-wide roof that is 100' off the ground in the center of the Big Wall.


Single set of cams from very small to 3" (blue BD), doubles of finger sizes
Nuts, including micros
14 quickdraws, heavy on the extendable draws

Photos of Benedictus/Masterpiece Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: the hard face moves that guard the p4 belay....
the hard face moves that guard the p4 belay....
Rock Climbing Photo: entering the 11- section of p2
entering the 11- section of p2

Comments on Benedictus/Masterpiece Add Comment
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By Rich Brereton
From: Pownal, ME
Aug 21, 2014

Check out the film Benedictus/Masterpiece by Jennifer Tennican. Great footage and interviews with Tom Callaghan et al.:
By paulmadry
Sep 6, 2015

Only did 4 pitches -pro is ok. 5th looked ok but 6th (looked at from Lab) seems quite R.
Please write reports if you climbed the route to top.
By Peter Beal
From: Boulder Colorado
Aug 29, 2016

Great film about an epic ascent. Highly recommended. This link is for the full-length version
By Bryan Gilmore
From: New England
Oct 17, 2016

Went up Benedictus yesterday and will say the bolts on .12 slab section are awful. I didn't feel like trying this insecure pitch with the bolts in their current state (an ancient rusty button head, then two rusted out 1/4" threaded antiques!). I highly recommend replacing the first three bolts on this awesome looking pitch and will do it next time I get the chance, which could be next season at this point. It's a shame those bolts are so bad. Also, the fourth bolt on the pitch, the first on the rightward traverse, is missing the hanger - it looked like it may be on purpose as gear seems to be available. Awesome route!

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