Note:The following route description is for a route that shares the first pitch and the first half of the second pitch with Crystal Ship
. The first half of the second pitch is common with Crystal Ship
and also Sunlight and Shadows. From the middle of the second pitch and on, the route may well be a free version of the A3 route: "The Block Buster", and it appeared to be a FFA.
Instead of finishing on the end of the 2nd pitch Crystal Ship
, and onto the rest, we ascended a beautiful but runout, "super-direct" route through the upper dihedrals that we are calling Crystal Balls. It is 250 feet of independent climbing and is not of similar character. The second pitch as we did it is super classic and of sustained difficulty but is very poorly protected (?formerly A3?). As we did the route, a fall from certain moves could either very injurious or fatal. Perhaps with some wandering more gear could be found.
Description: head into Dear Ridge Buttress, and settle in at the right side, just to the right of a narrow and steep ramp-like dihedral, where the ground rises to form an earth-ramp that rises steeply to the right. The route Crystal Ship starts about 25' up the earth ramp. To confirm where you are, find a dark vertical band of charcoal colored lichen stretching up from the ground and some light peach colored rock just right of that. This is the start of the route Sunlight and Shadow, a mere 50' left of Crystal Ship
P1: follow the first pitch of Crystal Ship
: the base of the climb is marked most precisely by a short but thick, left-leaning dihedral, which goes to vertical and then peters out just about 20' above ground. Just right of this step on to he rock and head up and left to a sharp, thin flake which you undercling and protect, heading to the right. Use long slings on most points of pro to avoid drag. This pitch is somewhat dirty and has some suspect rock. Do not trust cams placed shallowly in the flake, as I suspect it would snap if tested by a fall. These moves are not harder than 5.9+. Continue up and left under one flake and then up to another, repeating this process until eventually either pulling through the roof about 60 feet up, or by passing it on the left. In any case, the climbing is still 5.9+ or 5.10- and S. After the roof, you will be near a lower angle face with a few points of good protection of your choosing. Continuing upward will take you to the ramp-like dihedral that had been at your left at the start. Climb this up and right to some huge boulders that you will set a belay in. This pitch was 130' long but may require more rope if you place a lot of gear or use shorter slings than we did, due to its wandering nature. This pitch has interesting moves, some poor rock, and is so-so at best. Better than doing this pitch, perhaps, might be approaching via a different line, like Sunlight and Shadow?
P2: This pitch starts as for Crystal Ship
and Sunlight and Shadow but continues straight up as they go to the right. WARNING - my partner backed off and handed me the rope, sighting "Friday the 13th and Black Cat feelings" about the lead. This is essentially correct, but it has some beautiful moves. From the belay, look up and left. Note the small, deciduous bush growing out of a horizontal about 50' away. Look further up another 35' from there and see the white section of rock hanging below the lowest of the right-facing, overhanging dihedrals. These will come into play as you climb. You come out of the belay and do some easy moves up and left to a short vertical crack section that takes good pro. Place a piece and move up and left on a rising 5.7 traverse to the left. This will deposit you on a low angle slab - or maybe one would consider it a high-angle ledge, depending on how you look at things. Just up and right of the point where you reach the slab is at the small bush. Getting to the bush is runout a bit but not of any consequential difficulty. If this did not feel good, go back now. Down and left of the bush you can set some so-so stoppers or passive tricams in the horizontal in a flaky spot. These are slid in from the side and set hard so that they don't fall out. I would not fall hard on these, as the grittiness and texture of the rock made them seem suspect. Up and right of the bush, back behind it (hard to see from below), there is a deep but small section of fist-crack. Set the #3.5 Camalot you brought deep in this, and add a few long runners/slings. This is your crux pro and if you fell it would be between you and a trip to the E.R., so set all of this gear very carefully. Just left of the bush you are going to tackle the near-vertical face. There are two ways of doing this. Just left of the bush there is a crimpy but secure start that goes to a questionable move or two to reach the next rest. Further left (a few more feet) there is another way that rises up and left and then back right. These are bigger holds, but some are slopers, and the feet up top are small. I chose this, the left-hand way. At 5'10", I was just tall enough to get the first crux comfortably, and I was for want of 3 more inches of reach for the second crux. Wear good sensitive shoes for this.... You will now execute the crux- move up on the face through 5.10 moves (two 5.10b cruxes) with pro 15' and 25' feet below you, respectively. The slab is 10 feet lower. A fall could mean injury and perhaps serious injury, so wear a helmet. At the end of said slab, you will reach an undercling at the left end of the aforementioned white spot that you saw below the overhanging dihedral from the belay. There is a small TCU placement here (I used a gray or blue micro-Camalot). It might hold, it might not; it is a shallow placement in brittle rock. Move up and left to pass this first overhanging dihedral on its lower left and up into a second right-facing, overhanging dihedral. Put in some more questionable pro. Here is where you deviate from the existing climbs. Look up above and note that there are 3 right-leaning, shallow dihedrals. Move up directly toward these, passing through some small bulges along the way. Target a straight line to the left of these, aiming for a dihedral left of the three center of these.... I believe that you are essentially freeing the old aid route called Block-Buster (A3). Continue up the right-leaning for another 80 feet or so. You will reach a good spot in the crack to belay at about 65 meters up, belay from good stoppers and larger cams, some 15 feet below a large roof. You've probably enountered 40'+ runouts between good gear along the way in sustained 5.10- climbing. There are good stances, but the moves are somewhat difficult to decipher and execute.
P3: climb up and to the roof, moving left under it and passing it on the left (5.8). Climb up to a second roof, diagonaling to its right hand edge and passing it on the right (5.9). Finish in a crack and corner system to the top (5.7) This pitch is 45m long and is reasonably well-protected.
To descend, use the walk-off to climber's right. This will take about 15 minutes.
Pro? Hahhh hahhh. What do you mean pro?
The route is S overall, and VS in spots. In my opinion, the proposed belays are bomber, but if you try to stop somewhere else, you might be in trouble.
Carry a 70M rope or simulclimb a few feet (should be OK). Well, you should take a double set of nuts and a double set of TCUs. Tricams are also handy. One set of cams to 3" is also a good idea. Include a #3.5 Camalot for crux pro or you may be horrifically runout instead of just runout. I suggest all of this pro not because there is so much available on the route, but rather, because when you can get it, you want to make sure you do, and you want to make sure it is bomber. This is a hard and runout route with some sections of questionable rock.