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Blues Riff 

YDS: 5.11 French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E4 5c

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 250'
Original:  YDS: 5.11b/c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: Dale Bard, Bob Locke, Claude Fiddler & Allen Bard, 1976
Page Views: 10,574
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 2006

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Abel on Blues Riff.

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


Tuolumne is not a destination for flawless crack climbs, but there are a few notable exceptions, Blues Riff being one of them. This pitch would be classic no matter where it would be. Originally rated 5.11d, it has since been down-rated to as low as 5.11b, but although the crux is brief, it is probably solid 5.11.

Most climb only through the second pitch and then rap with double ropes.

P1: Begin about 100' right of the obvious crack system of Phobos at a section of friable rock protected by a new bolt. This short pitch was changed significantly in recent rockfall, but is still climbable at 5.10c. Climb up to the first bolt (a small cam helps), then reach left and crank through the roof on large, flexing holds -- be very careful about what you pull on here! Continue up a short, ugly hand crack to a nice ledge below the second pitch. Belay from some fixed slings and possibly a #3 Camalot.

P2: Step up onto the face above and ascend it past a bolt to a stance. Have a few medium wires or finger-size cams ready, and then climb up the finger crack (crux) to an obvious sharp horizontal "rest" jug. Continue up the beautiful thin-hands crack to a final wide section (#3 Camalot) to a bolted anchor. It is possible to rap from here with two 60m ropes, or one can continue up the wide flake to the summit and walk off.


Triples in hand-size cams, doubles in fingers, and one or two #3 Camalots.

Photos of Blues Riff Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Darek on P2.
Darek on P2.
Rock Climbing Photo: the business ahead
the business ahead
Rock Climbing Photo: Darek on P2.
Darek on P2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Linking pitch 1 into the beautiful black streak ab...
Linking pitch 1 into the beautiful black streak ab...

Comments on Blues Riff Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 5, 2015
By bbrock
From: Al
Dec 1, 2006

This climb is beyond words. A must do for the grade. Perfect pro on the second pitch.
By Michael Sokoloff
From: Spokane, WA
Jul 11, 2007

5.11 crackclimbing does not get much better than this. After a well-prod thin crux to start the second pitch, it becomes a test of staying power and corestrength to persevere the overhanging crack above on varied but mostly handjams.
By Greg DeMatteo
From: W. Lebanon, NH
Apr 7, 2008
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

So exposed and such a steep, wide open face. Really incredible climbing.
By Dennis
Jul 2, 2008

Truly a standout climb. Combine the first 2 pitches into a long enduro pitch.
By Nick Stayner
From: Wymont Kingdom
Sep 3, 2008
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Absolutely unbelievable, heaven-sent splitter of the gods. Extremely aesthetic and every move is incredible. Yet another Bard classic--how did he find all these amazing cracks?
By Brandon R
From: Sacramento, CA
Aug 24, 2009

the third pitch is a little adventurous and run out, but definitely worth doing once.
By Eric Foster
From: Chandler/Flagstaff, AZ
Apr 23, 2010

Very good route, one of my favorite climbing in Yosemite. A sure must.
By trying hard
From: Sierra East Side
Aug 23, 2010
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13

First pitch is a little sporty and there are one or two holds that seem scary to grab, but they seemed to be solid. Climb through a mini roof and mantle to a nice hand crack that is bomber.

Belay for Pitch one and leading off for money pitch is a huge ledge and there is fixed gear. I would just add a piece for back up, make sure to inspect the cordalete before belaying or repelling off it though.

The money pitch has a scary loose boulder you could start on the right, or start on the left and grab huge jugs to a huge jug rail and move over into the first little bit of ly backing.
You get a great rest before firing the crux, and at this spot you can place a couple pieces before you go for it. From here you only have about 8 to 10 feet max of climbing to your first big rest then the climbing eases up in grade, but get ready for endurance test, you got it!
By heppnerd
Dec 4, 2010

i was very dissapointed with this climb weird boulder problem crux to an easy crack and a lot shorter than i expected.maybe i,m a snob[my wife thinks so] but i have climbed all over and this would not make my c list in other areas imho .
By bob wert
Jul 10, 2011

heppnerd, sound like you're describing the first pitch. It does have a weird bouldery problem that goes to an easy crack. And it's shorter than anyone expects! And it wouldn't make anyone's c list by itself ieho (in everyone's humble opinion, trade marked here)
By Greg Barnes
Oct 1, 2011

Warning: there is a bolted anchor on the top of the cliff about 50' right of the finish of Blues Riff and Phobos. This anchor has NO ANCHORS BELOW within reach of two 60m ropes - do NOT use!

Thanks to Katrina Managan and partners for the warning!
By TeleRoss
From: San Diego, CA
Jun 28, 2013
rating: 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Amazing splitter! Kind of a one move crux, really prob only 11a/b but man, that thin hands, hands and laybacking hero crack above is so good!
By Jeff Edge
Jul 12, 2013

the bolted anchor to the right of blues riff/Phobos topouts drops down about 10 ft to the right of the second pitch anchor of blues riff right at the end of a single 60, it shouldn't be hard to see and it's an easy swing over
By Cristiano Pereira
Aug 5, 2013

Second pitch is great. Link 1st and 2nd for a greater pump fest. The 3rd pitch is not worth it, IMHO. There are two loose flakes, which would kill you if they come off.
By Neil Rankin
From: Winston-Salem, NC
Sep 23, 2013
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

My favorite climb in Tuolumne. It never gets old.
By Rob Dillon
Nov 5, 2013

OK so how long a rope is required to lower off?
By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Dec 5, 2015

A challenging and stunning route! Small sections of difficult climbing woven together by excellent and featured flake climbing. A must do!

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