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Drop, Fly, or Die 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Henry Barber, 4/77
Page Views: 9,329
Submitted By: Chris Duca on Dec 3, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (57)
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Vinny gettin' strong on the Barber classic!


Though this route is NOT blessed with an inspirational name, it DOES offer some of the finest crack climbing on the cliff: Just don't let the sand run out of your hourglass!

A few things distinguish this route from several other routes of similar grade on the cliff--A series of hard/insecure moves off the deck to gain the rest alcove, a deceivingly pumpy traverse crux, and an endurance crux with solid jams.

The route starts off of a spike of rock that sits in front of a few, large boulders stacked on top of one another. Place two pieces of gear, then boulder up from the spike and into the alcove below the roof. Rest.

Place a Blue Camalot out left, then master the leftward traverse without pumping yourself out too much. Gain a nice rest below the overhanging hand crack. Drop your arms into fifth and fire the enduro crack to the chain anchors.

It is possible to climb directly up to the main handcrack from the ground. This variation adds a few letter grades to difficulty of the route.


In the center of the cliff is a large stack of boulders with a small island of trees behind it. Start the route below the stacked boulders on a spike of rock.


A nice size rack from the very small up to a #3 Camalot with doubles in the #.75 to #2 size. As always, wires are helpful.

Photos of Drop, Fly, or Die Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Kyle Story at the end of Pitch 1
Kyle Story at the end of Pitch 1
Rock Climbing Photo: Past the bouldery start and the cool traverse, cop...
Past the bouldery start and the cool traverse, cop...
Rock Climbing Photo: Drop, Fly, or Die.
Drop, Fly, or Die.
Rock Climbing Photo: firing the traverse!
firing the traverse!
Rock Climbing Photo: Leighton at the decent rest ledge on the pumpy par...
Leighton at the decent rest ledge on the pumpy par...
Rock Climbing Photo: chris vultaggio on drop fly or die
chris vultaggio on drop fly or die
Rock Climbing Photo: This climb is proof the northeast is not lacking i...
This climb is proof the northeast is not lacking i...

Comments on Drop, Fly, or Die Add Comment
Show which comments
By CCliffe
Aug 4, 2011

there was a fist size bees nest under the last hold before you get into the alcove. dont get stung like i did
By Colin R
From: Ottawa, ON
May 28, 2012
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Really amazing line - had to hang in the final hand jam section since the pump factor kicked in. Will come back to redpoint again soon...
By Eric Chabot
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Sep 12, 2014

So so sick. I found the hardest individual moves closest to the deck, the traverse didn't feel bad.

With a 70m, link the pitches like Barber did on the FA! Or at least belay your second up and give pitch 2 a adds another 30-40 ft of fun climbing at 5.10. In its current state it is rough, rugged and raw with a hard to read crux off the belay, much lichen/moss and just a touch of choss to keep things interesting.

You can rap off the top with a 70 to the ground, probably could lower off with one but I'm not sure.
By Jeff Moss
From: Albany, NY
Oct 12, 2014

If you link the two pitches, you can lower off the 2nd pitch bolts with a 70 safely.
By City Dweller
From: New York, NY
Oct 9, 2015
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

Get past the scary start, the pumpy traverse, and into the sweet sweet crack. A little intimidating, but way fun!
By Sean Sullivan
From: Boise, ID
Jul 19, 2016

I found the start strenuous but straightforward and the traverse to be tricky but well protected. The rest was pumpy, but very doable. I had to take one hang.

On a side note, how exactly did Henry barber just tie another rope on and keep climbing? Wouldn't the knot get caught on his first piece of pro? Did he pull the whole rope through and then have his partner tie the knot? That part has always confused me.
By Jim Lawyer
Jul 19, 2016

TommyWiggins: I've asked this exact question to Mellor, Cilley, and Barber.

There appears to be a general lack of remembering. Barber either (a) had a high first piece and reached the belay before the knot reached the first piece, or (b) the second began climbing before he reached the belay. In 2006 Barber told me it was probably a simul-climb situation, but didn't really recall.

Barber also doesn't recall who he did the route with, but suffice to say it was either Dave Cilley or Todd Eastman. I'm not sure why it's credited to him alone. (Perhaps nobody followed, or followed but not cleanly, or nobody remembers.)

In the end, we opted to retell the original story, because it was written down so long ago, and probably more reliable than 30+ year old memories.
By Sean Sullivan
From: Boise, ID
Jul 21, 2016

Thanks for the information, Jim. As Ken Kesey said in Sometimes a Great Notion, "Besides, there are some things that can't be the truth, even if they did happen. "

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