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BETA PHOTO: Grand Central (Grade III, 5.10b or 5.9 C1 PG)
Grand Central is a 6-pitch route that reaches the summit of the North Buttress. The route is 5.7 or easier, except for five short sections ranging from 5.8 to 5.10b. The 5.10b crux is a short overhanging hand crack on pitch 6. The route is Grade III 5.10b or 5.9 C1 PG13.
(1) 5.7. 165 feet. 1 bolt. Follow a left-leaning crack (5.4 - 5.6) for 150 feet. As the crack ends, climb up and right to the anchor with bolt-protected 5.7 face climbing which is the crux of the first pitch.
(2) 5.8. 150 feet. 4 bolts. Climb past two bolts (some 5.8) to a small dihedral. Step up left to a ramp and another bolt. Ascend slightly up and left to another bolt on a face. Diagonal up and to the right below the obvious small bush to a ledge with a bolt. This ledge is slightly higher and to the right (looking up) of the small bush. Climb 5.8 face to the belay.
(3) 5.8. 180 feet. Face climb (8 bolts) to anchor at base of The Ramp.
(4) 5.7. 190 feet. 3 bolts. Climb The Ramp using a combination of the crack and face climbing. There is a bolt where the crack becomes a seam and two more bolts near the end of the pitch. The belay is on a good stance next to some small trees. Extending all the pro with slings is highly recommended.
(5) 5.9. 140 feet. From the belay move up a few feet and then traverse right and up to a bolt below a small tapering roof. Go around or over the bottom of the roof and then up past two bolts to a thin crack which leads up and right. Follow the crack (protected with an old fixed piton and small cams) until it ends then delicately ascend (5.9) to a bolt. From here climb mostly straight up until coming to a ledge. The anchors are to the left/north on the ledge. Extending all the pro with slings is highly recommended.
(6) 5.10b or 5.7-5.8 C1. 190 feet. Ascend slightly up and left from the belay to a bolt (5.7-5.8). Climb from here up a sloping ramp to the obvious corner above and to the right of the belay. Ascend the crack (5.10b) by jamming/lie-backing. This crack can also be aided at C1. An optional belay can be placed just above the crack to better protect the follower. Continue right/south along the ramp until the wall above it ends, and it is possible to exit up to the ridge. There are several belay points within twenty feet above the end of the wall.
From the last belay, scramble about 100 feet of easy 3rd class to the top.
Descent (refer to 3 beta photos): After topping out on the ridge, go up the ridge about 100 yards and follow some easy ledges/slabs down and left (east).
As you descend, aim for the solitary, ~20 tree that has no lower branches, a roughly light tan trunk, and one dead branch pointing straight up. From the tree, diagonal down towards the very obvious, large dead tree that is just beyond the edge of the slab at the bottom of the ridge.
From the lower tree, work over and down to within a few hundred feet of the top edge of the buttress. You may find a line of cairns here which lead down to the base of the buttress. Hike down around the east side of the buttress. No down-climbing is necessary (stay away from the edge).
At the base of the buttress where the slabs meet the talus, there are some choices: (1) A quick traverse through the top of the talus leads back around to the center of the Buttress and the JMT. (2) Traverse around the bottom of the talus field and then work over to the base of the buttress or the JMT. (3) Continue down through the east edge of the burned area and traverse back over and up (roughly northwest) to the JMT at the point where you first see the Buttress when you are coming up the JMT from the parking lot.
Route starts 200 feet right of the toe of the Buttress. N37.86213 W119.40059.
Gear: Nuts: 1 set; cams 2 ea 0.4 - 3; additional 2 to 4 microcams (e.g. BD Camalot sizes 00 and 0) are required to protect the thin traversing crack on pitch 5.
Belay Anchors: Pitches 1 - 5 have double bolt two-ring anchors.
Retreat: The route can be rappelled from the top of Pitch 5 (two 60 meter ropes required). The last (6th) pitch does not have a bolt anchor, requiring a walk-off.
BETA PHOTO: Grand Central is 5.7 or easier except for five sho...
BETA PHOTO: From the tree, diagonal down towards the very obvi...
BETA PHOTO: As you descend, aim for the solitary, ~20 tree t...
BETA PHOTO: After topping out on the ridge, go up the ridge ab...
Philip Matena at the top of Grand Central. Unicorn...
Tom Rogers starting the long traverse to the right...
Tom Rogers at the belay anchors of Pitch 5.
Dave Mahler starting up Pitch 4: The Ramp (5.7).
Vlada Matena nearing the top of Pitch 3 (5.7 face ...
Dave Mahler on the short 5.8 face section at the e...
Vlada Matena on the short 5.8 section at the start...
Dave Mahler approaching the top of Pitch 1.
Vlada Matena on Pitch 1 (5.7)
BETA PHOTO: This picture was taken from the pitch 4 belay anch...
65 year-old Tom Rogers at the top of the North But...
Dave Mahler leading the traverse (5.9) on Pitch 5.
Jun 20, 2016
P5 has a serious rope drag after clipping the 3rd bolt. There is a good piton at the beginning of the crack section and then 2-3 placements with C3 2, 1 and 0. Use slings to manage the rope drag.
P6 has a dangerous fall potential at the 10a crux for the follower due to inevitable rope stretch/slack and the low angle slab below. It is also difficult to communicate with the belayer 150ft out and above the traversing dihedral. We set-up an intermediate gear anchor (C4 #0.5-1) just after the crux.
C3 #0/00 single, #1-2 double
C4 #0.3-1 double, #2-3 single
By Vlada Matena
Aug 22, 2016
We climbed the route again last weekend. I agree with MDanek's previous comment that setting an optional belay immediately above the crack makes it safer for the follower.
Having doubles for C4 #2-3 makes it possible to place more protection on the final traverse on pitch 6, especially if one is using the optional belay on top of the crack. Single C4 #2-3 are sufficient on pitches 1 through 5.
On pitch 5, we extended all protection with standard shoulder-length slings and did not have any unusual rope drag on the pitch.
We also added a couple of bolts near the end of pitch 4 to bypass the awkward section around the small tree to the left of the route. These bolts are depicted on the most recent route topo.