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The Bubble
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"Left Edge" S,TR 
Bubble Boy S 
Catchy S 
Chimney T,TR 
Face T,TR 
Face, The Bubble Mt. St. Helena S,TR 
Ladder, The S,TR 
Old Ladder Route T,TR 
Solar Power S 
West Face, The S 

Face, The Bubble Mt. St. Helena 

YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 60'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Unknown
Page Views: 7,370
Submitted By: Tony B on Aug 18, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (104)
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BETA PHOTO: Overview of the Bubble. Routes on the picture ar...


The "Face" route is the left-most bolted route at the bubble and is marked as "#1" on the topo attached. The route goes up the slabby-to-vertical face on pockets beside bolts the entire way, and tops out to a bolted anchor, just left of an obvious left-facing dihedral with a chimney in the back of it.

The climb is mostly moderate with protection at the crux. Shorter people may find this somewhat hard at the grade, but not harder than 5.10a/b. The crux is a reach spot 2/3 of the way to the top.

The anchors are placed back from the top such that long slings or webbing is necessary to set a TR or to lower off. This seems akward, but perhaps it was done to save wear from the people who would otherwise TR off of chains or shuts directly.


It is bolted, although not very closely. A 5.9 climber should be fine, but if you are a 5.7 climber and want to dog it, please consider a TR.

Photos of Face, The Bubble Mt. St. Helena Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: bolt locations on The Face
BETA PHOTO: bolt locations on The Face
Rock Climbing Photo: GrzB. leading the Face in the shade while the bela...
BETA PHOTO: GrzB. leading the Face in the shade while the bela...
Rock Climbing Photo: warming up on a chill lead, left face, at the bubb...
warming up on a chill lead, left face, at the bubb...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jamie on the Face!
Jamie on the Face!
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris Parks TR's on the route "Face."  P...
Chris Parks TR's on the route "Face." P...

Comments on Face, The Bubble Mt. St. Helena Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Feb 29, 2016
By Brian Quiter
From: Oakland, CA
Aug 27, 2002

Guide books covering the area have it rated at 5.7, but Tony and had a discussion and decided that that's a pretty misleading, as we have friends who can usually climb 5.9 have trouble on it.
By Aron Quiter
From: Oakland, CA
Oct 21, 2002

After climbing it, I think it's 5.7 if you are about 8, and have really really littlehands. Tall people will find this route harder than short poeple.There are tons ofhands and feet on this route, it's just that none of them are big.
By Brian Quiter
From: Oakland, CA
May 19, 2003

One more reason this climb seems harder than the guidebooks claim is that it is absolutely impossible to see the wonderful holds above you. The face is too featured with little pockets. I watched people struggle for a while on a move until they finally stubled upon an enormous hold, then they could pull themselves up with ease.
By harmonydoc
Nov 6, 2005
rating: 5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c

My first sport lead (I currently lead 5.6/5.7 trad). Not strenuous, but some insecure moves. Moves aren't obvious, I had some trouble comitting (I don't know if the audience of hikers on the fire road was helping matters). Fun, though!
By Colonel Mustard
From: Sacramento, CA
Jun 19, 2006

I'd agree with 5.9 as a rating. The bulge around 2nd bolt is definitely more strenuous than other 5.8s and the top is pretty balancey/technical. Fun climb.
By Floyd Hayes
Oct 27, 2008
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

I think it's solid 5.9. The first few times I led it straight over the second bolt, but later found it easier to grab a solid left hand hold above and well left of the bolt, stepping high up and reaching high to a solid right hand hold.
By marc g
From: San Francisco, CA
Aug 31, 2010

This is a pretty good match for a 5.9. It has tiny, sharp pockets and the occasional jug. The 2nd and 3rd bolts are a bit awkward, and the first is a pretty high start. Mildly fun.
By Floyd Hayes
Oct 4, 2010
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

After leading this climb 9 times, I think it's a bit harder than several 5.9s that I've led at Mt. St. Helena, including Kola (2 times), Shute-Mills (5 times), pitch 1 of Mark's Moderate (2 times) and Theodore Roosevelt (1 time). I can't understand how it ever got a 5.7 rating. It always feels like 5.10a to me between the second and third bolts.
By Kyle Townsend
From: Oakland, CA
Jul 1, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

This route is suprisingly enjoyable! It look bland and boring from the ground, but the movement is actually quite aesthetic. Regarding grade, this is unquestionably a 5.9. I think it requires pocket pulling experience and the ability to visualize good holds over shallow useless ones, otherwise I could see how someone might feel i deserves a 10a. Well-bolted, good warmup.
By Prasadachitta
Jul 8, 2012

I lead 5.8 and I thought I was hopping on a 5.7. I got a bit freaked but pulled it off. There is a lot to be said for expectations. After another look at the guide book I realized that there is a 5.7 on this wall it is TR only and its quite a bi
t to the right of the bolts. 5.9 seems appropriate to me.
By James Watson
Nov 24, 2014

Current Potlicker Press book, "Bay Area Rock" has this climb rated 5.9. The climb is also called "The Slab" instead of "The Face".
By FourT6and2 Haftel
From: San Francisco, CA
Feb 29, 2016

Climbed this route today and I thought it was really fun. I agree that from the ground it doesn't look like much, but when you get on the wall it goes really well and is quite fun.

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