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YDS: 5.11+ French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 24 British: E4 6a

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 200'
Original:  YDS: 5.11+ French: 7a Ewbanks: 24 UIAA: VIII ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: FFA: Terry Lien, Jon Nelson
Page Views: 2,525
Submitted By: Drewsky on Dec 30, 2008

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (12)
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Joe S. stemming through the middle of Clay.

2017 Seasonal Raptor Closure: UTW from waterfall to Golden Arch MORE INFO >>>


Pitch one is fairly well-travelled. Pitch two may not have seen an ascent in the last fifteen years. The first pitch corner has it all; well, almost! Thin, funky climbing off the ground leads to a lieback past two bolts to a crack and a stance under a roof. Crack, face climbing past wild jugs and finally stemming leads to a tricky crux finish. Spectacular climbing.

P2 climbs a slab up to the Beach. 5.10+ R; most likely not equipped for ('safe') free climbing.


From the waterfall, this area is to the right and past a subsidiary wall and the entrance to the Cheeks, which is accessed from a long ledge (the Beach) via 4th and 5th class scrambling and climbing.


Nuts and small cams to a #4 Camalot, I believe. The bolts on the route are old but have continued to hold falls. Fixed anchor.

Photos of Clay Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down P1 of Clay (11d) from the belay. The ...
Looking down P1 of Clay (11d) from the belay. The ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at P1 of Clay (11d). All kinds of jammi...
Looking up at P1 of Clay (11d). All kinds of jammi...
Rock Climbing Photo: The second pitch of Clay
BETA PHOTO: The second pitch of Clay

Comments on Clay Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 21, 2017
By dscramer
Dec 30, 2008

As of last spring (2008) p2 was maybe only bit dirtier than I remember it being in the 80s. It was never "cleaned" and never had fixed pins. I think I placed two pins while leading it in the 80's. The top bolt midway up p1 is a 20+ yo Star Drive that is probably not strong enough to withstand a long fall, so be advised if you decide to run it out to the bomber jams at the roof.

From the Beach it is easy to descend this route and set up a TR. Look for a single safety bolt used to protect reaching the real anchors atop p2. Birds occasionally nest near this route in the spring. If they are around it is best to stay away.

Like many other Index routes if it was located in Yosemite it would be a world famous classic. (Only a slight bit of hyperbole)
By Drewsky
Dec 31, 2008

Would modern thin/tiny gear protect the second pitch, or is it more incipient than that?

Somehow that world class quality has remained a relative secret for decades, although our weather tends to obfuscate such things rather conveniently.
By derekpearson Pearson
Mar 8, 2013

I cleaned some old webbing off the p1 anchor and added a nice new shiny bolt now there are three 3/8 bolts. P2 looks really cool.
By Drewsky
Jun 6, 2013

Nice work, Derek. That anchor was a bit of a cluster and even had an aluminum hanger similar to the ones that caused a near miss on Calling Wolfgang.
By derekpearson Pearson
Jun 13, 2013

No sweat Drew I enjoy fixing up anchors when I can .

You know Clay would be an ultimate link up with p3 and 4 of the zipper . A real testpiece for someone looking to on sight five eleven at Index .
By MorganH
Jul 29, 2013

Now there are four bolts at the layback section, one old left over star drive and a new rawl 5 piece on the left, and two new expansion bolts on the right. Two of them should probably be removed. The new bolt at the anchor needs a piece of chain for rapping too.
By Drewsky
Oct 26, 2013

Bolts on the right? As in bolt positions were changed, the old ones weren't removed and bolts were added? That sucks. I figured any bolting would just be to replace what was there with new metal. This sounds like a total botch job!
By Thomas Ramier
Sep 6, 2016

As of 9/5/16 the old rawl bolt was removed. The star drive and smc hanger was pounded flat and will require an angle grinder to remove. Maybe I'll get to it in 3 or 4 years if no one else does.

I also removed the two fixed wires that protected the top moves. These were in place at lease 15 years ago when I did the route for my first time and they looked at that time to be at least that old again. Maybe they have always been there. According to one particular blogger the first "true" free ascent(FTFA?) may still be waiting to be plucked! Gosh! what a prize that would be. To bad for all those who thought they had free climbed it up until this point. Even better would be to chop the two bolts and then do the First True True Free Ascent...FTTFA!

By Terry Lien
Oct 12, 2016

Thank you for your part in restoring the integrity of this route. We share same sentiments concerning adding bolts or other fixed gear. Unfortunately, there are several other routes in the area that deserve similar attention.

As far as Clay is concerned, when the route was established there was one marginal bolt that you clipped just because it was there. No fixed nuts existed. Placing your own gear was mandatory, which in my opinion is a real part of the overall climbing experience.

I’ve always been proud of Clay because of the mental and physical demands it required. Clay was certainly one of the most committing and fulfilling routes I’ve ever done. Adding bolts to established natural routes only degrades them to the standards of a climbing gym. Sad.

Terry Lien
By Stamati
From: Bellingham, WA
Oct 12, 2016

Terry, so those two bolts in the lieback section weren't there when you opened the route? What do you have for gear in their place?
By Terry Lien
Oct 12, 2016

After thinking about your question, two very memorable things stick out in my mind, spending a lot of time backing up one old bolt (smallest RP”s and HB”s) and not having gear for the top. Both scary and committing. Was there a second bolt, I truly don”t think so but it's been a while and I honestly can”t say for sure.

Thank you for asking
By blakeherrington
Jul 14, 2017

It's pretty inspiring to have FAist Terry Lien chime in with his views about the pitch, the added difficulty of placing protection yourself, and the route history. Thanks Terry!

I finally did the pitch after 10 years of climbing at Index, and it is truly amazing. Thanks Thomas for removing the fixed wires - there's bomber gear up high for sure. The smashed up bolt and bent hanger are still in place on the wall just left of the corner - an angle grinder (or just a wrench? or crowbar?) would be a good tool for removing the mangled bolt and improving this pitch.
By Jon Nelson
From: Bellingham, WA
Jul 14, 2017

I recall placing only one bolt in the layback section, a weird thing with a funky lead sleeve that Darryl had. Placing a 3/8th was hard work, particularly on a steep wall, and probably took most of an hour. When it is like that, you tend to be restrictive about placements (or switch to 1/4" bolts).
By Thomas Ramier
Jul 21, 2017

It's interesting to hear that there was only one bolt when you opened the route. Wow. When I first climbed it in the early '90's there were two. It's been a few years now but I'm pretty sure even with both the old bolts it still felt plenty exciting to me! Definitely one of my favorite pitches in Index(world).

Upon reflection, the best way to remove the SMC hanger is probably just a hammer and cold chisel.

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