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Megan, consulting the guidebook for me after my &q...
Commissioner Buttress starts a few hundred feet up the hill and to the right of Nutcracker. Stay down in the forest until you pass a small rib of rock that protrudes from the main formation. Look up and you should see a prominent gully system with a very tall pine tree about 100 ft up. Commissioner Buttress begins just to the right of the gully, up a smaller and lower angle groove that heads for a steep corner.
This is an old and somewhat classic route that has drifted into obscurity in modern times. It would probably get climbed a lot more if it had been included in the Supertopo Freeclimbs book. Instead of waiting behind slow parties all day on After Six and Nutcracker, just hike another 5 minuets up the hill and get on this fun moderate that's almost always open. The route is defined by its varied climbing with fun jam cracks on the first 2 pitches, and good belay ledges throughout.
Pitch 1 (5.9, 160ft) - The low angle groove is actually steeper and a bit more of a grunt than it appears from the ground. The crux comes in the steep dihedral above. I found a 4.5" cam to be useful here, but it's not required since the crack is irregular and has constrictions that accept smaller gear. The offwidth corner leads to a fun handcrack up the side of a detached flake. Above this is a ledge with rap slings and a piton. If you've got a lot of rope drag you can stop here. Otherwise continue up the flakes and double cracks which lead to a cool belay spot on an exposed blade of rock.
Pitch 2 (5.8, 100ft) - This is another great pitch. From the belay move left (I think you're supposed to downclimb a bit first. I headed up and traversed under the roof which felt 5.9 and off-route). Squeeze up the chimney to reach steep double cracks. The double cracks lead to the roof which you will exit to the left. Having a 4.5" cam is useful here as well. I'm guessing most people use the tree to get over the roof, I sure did. Above the roof you can either chimney up the corner to the left or stay out on the face and use the crack for some more fun and exposed 5.8 climbing. There's a few options to finish the pitch, whichever way you go you'll end up on a large ledge with a bunch of manzanitas. If you want you can link this with the next pitch which is really just a short scramble.
Pitch 3 (5.5 50ft) - Scramble up some blocks and squeeze up a short chimney behind a large flake to reach another long ledge system.
Pitch 4 (5.5R 50ft) - You want to climb up the low angle face via the path of least resistance. There's not much pro and no bolts. Wander up the face to a flake about 30ft up where you can get some solid pro. Then head up and slightly right and make a final traverse left on some steeper but featured rock before mantling onto another ledge.
Pitch 5 (5.5 100ft) - Around the corner to the left is a low angle gully. Most of it is 4th class with a bit of awkward 5th class near the top.
Descent: Walk towards the top Manure Pile Buttress. There's a drop-off that prevents you from scrambling down to the top of Nutcracker, but keep heading North and West and you'll eventually find your way down into the gully that links up with the well-traveled Manure Pile descent trail.
Pro to 4.5", doubles to "3.
Near the top of the first pitch.
Apr 15, 2011
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
This route obviously doesn't get climbed very often. It's a very different world from the clean and crowded routes on Manure Pile just down the hill; it's full-on adventure. The first pitch was good - pretty burly (old school 5.9, but no harder). The second pitch was great - 5.8+. The two remaining pitches to the top were kinda CRAP! If I ever do this route again, I will probably find a place to rap off after the first two pitches... the Reid guide shows a place to move right and rap at the top of P2. I didn't even look for it.
I took a standard rack plus one old BD #4 and that seemed to do the trick.