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The Whale's Tail
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Free Speech 

YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 40'
Original:  YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Mike Brooks (All your routes rock!!!!)
Fixed Hardware: 2 Lead Bolts, 2 Belay Bolts [details]
Page Views: 1,253
Submitted By: Ken Trout on Dec 28, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (8)
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Matching the left hand next to the right on the ho...

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  • Description 

    Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on Free Speech, 5.12a.
    Climbers on Free Speech, 5.12a.

    There is a bolting ban on this aspect of The Whale's Tail. Luckily for us sport climbers, Mike Brooks got this one done before the ban. It is everyone's right to whine about slippery river polish. Ha! But really, the quality of the rock is excellent, the holds are comfy-smooth, and the approach is world class easy.

    A huge stick-clip can be employed to reach the first piece of protection; an ancient ring-angle under the roof. Alternatively, a crash pad makes the start a lot safer too.

    The ring-angle piton is the second fixed pin on Spoof and hard to see in the shadows under the roof. Blow off the first pin on Spoof. That way leads to Crazy Town just before you're able to clip the second pin. I prefer my cruxes lower, so instead climb straight up to a slippery, unprotected, 5.9+ undercling up onto a smeary left foot.

    Rock Climbing Photo: 5.9+.

    Slightly easier high ball bouldering gains the ring-angle piton under the roof. Clip the rope in from the nice hold an inch left of the ring angle (finally!). Back up the old pin by stuffing a purple/0.5 Camalot next to your fingers and the pin.

    Begin the sport climbing by leaning out right to clip the first bolt. The crux is basically top-roped. Begin with a tricky toe-hook under the roof, find the left hand undercling, and then get both hands firmly established on river polished slopers.

    Rock Climbing Photo: 5.12a.
    After getting hands matched on the highest sloper, launch rightward to a pistol grip that is both comfortable and secure for the next clip. My feet always cut loose after the sideways dyno to the pistol grip and that feeling of success when regaining control is what makes this route so fun.

    Rock Climbing Photo: Pistol grip.
    Pistol grip.
    After clipping the second bolt, your left hand goes into a deeply incut finger-bucket. Get the feet up as high as possible. Paw at the lip with the right hand, then dyno (about 15 degree right of vertical) to a totally hidden mini-pothole that ends the business.

    Rock Climbing Photo: Hard to on-sight because you can't see the mini-po...
    Hard to on-sight because you can't see the mini-pothole!

    I added a second anchor bolt about 1991 with committee approval. No links or chains allowed per Park rule. Adding protection for the extension didn't fly with the members at that time.
    Adding a bolt to protect the extension would make a much better route. For now, continuing is at least 5.9 and the gear is not to be trusted. The crux is pulling the final bulge and a fall might end upon the retaining wall.


    #0.5 Camalot slots great next to the ring angle yet leaves room enough for the fingers, then 2 bolts, and shortly a two bolt anchor.

    For the extension there is a small cam just above the anchor and then some side-ways RPs just below the crux bulge. Equalized and tied tight on rappel, the RPs held bounce tests. Placed on lead, with one hand, they were awfully loose.

    Comments on Free Speech Add Comment
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    By Chris O'Connor
    From: boulder, co
    Mar 15, 2007
    rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

    There are currently two pins on before the roof, protecting the slab adequately. I got it on my second try, but pulling onto the slab on top stumped me for a while. This route would be very difficult to onsight, without the beta.
    By Steven Lucarelli
    From: Moab, UT
    Mar 22, 2007
    rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a

    5.11d sounds about right, maybe 5.12a to onsight.
    By Ken Cangi
    From: Eldorado Springs, CO
    Oct 28, 2007
    rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

    This route is 12a to onsight, IMO. I can see how someone getting it wired, and then redpointing it, might think it were easier, but is that really how to rate a route with such short business?

    If you go up there, onsight, expect it to feel like easy 5.12.
    By Dave Cummings
    From: Grand Junction, CO
    Oct 30, 2007
    rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

    I love this climb. It is so close to the road that it can be a quick outing and as long as you back up the pins it is really safe. If you haven't done this route yet, go do it!
    By Dane Casterson
    From: Boulder
    Feb 24, 2008

    How far are the anchors above the second bolt? Are they just above on the slab?
    By Steven Lucarelli
    From: Moab, UT
    Jun 19, 2008
    rating: 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a


    The anchors are only a few feet above the second bolt.

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