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Hair Raiser Buttress T,S 

Hair Raiser Buttress 

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

Type:  Trad, Sport, 3 pitches
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a R [details]
FA: Vern Clevenger, Tom Higgins, 1975.
Page Views: 5,513
Submitted By: Blitzo on Nov 1, 2006

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Looking down the 2nd Pitch.


This East Side classic was first climbed by Vern Clevenger and Tom Higgins in 1975. It was climbed in the traditional runout style. Alan Hirahara added bolts to this route, but it is rumored that they have been chopped.

P1: From the base of the cliff, climb scary moves off some blocks and onto this beautiful slab. 115' leads to a two-bolt belay.

P2: A 5.8 pitch continues to another two-bolt belay.

P3: One more 5.9 pitch leads to another two-bolt anchor.

To descend, either rappel or walk off to the left.


Draws, small stoppers, TCUs.

Photos of Hair Raiser Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Picture Topo...
BETA PHOTO: Picture Topo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Me on first pitch of Hair Raiser Buttress. PC: Dou...
Me on first pitch of Hair Raiser Buttress. PC: Dou...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bethany on pitch three. Bolt, gear, bolt, then not...
Bethany on pitch three. Bolt, gear, bolt, then not...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bethany searching for the second bolt on pitch one...
Bethany searching for the second bolt on pitch one...
Rock Climbing Photo: Geoff Ruth topping out
Geoff Ruth topping out
Rock Climbing Photo: Hair raiser, amazing experience.
Hair raiser, amazing experience.
Rock Climbing Photo: The current TOPO!
BETA PHOTO: The current TOPO!
Rock Climbing Photo: Vern Clevenger on the FA of the "Crux" 3...
Vern Clevenger on the FA of the "Crux" 3...
Rock Climbing Photo: First Pitch.
First Pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Area Photo.
BETA PHOTO: Area Photo.

Comments on Hair Raiser Buttress Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 29, 2017
By Old Skool
May 12, 2008

- All anchor's have three 3/8th" Bolts w/Qiucklinks attached for Rappels. All bolts on route are 3/8th" w/FIXE Hangers.

- This is an "Old Skool" slab route so do not FALL on it. There's a history of broken ankles and legs due to folks getting on this RO'd old route. Stay within 5' lt/rt of the bolt line. On P2, go up to the first obvious bolt and then right. DO NOT GO LEFT onto Alan H's new route that goes to the left.

- DO NOT CHOP ANY OF THE BOLTS....PLEASE!!!! There have been some very controversial actions in the past several years where folks have come and chopped some of the added bolts. This has lead to some long falls resulting in severe fractures. The current bolt count is in Marty Lewis's 3rd edition of "Mammoth Area Rock Climbs" pg.237. This beta is current and many folks come from all over the world expecting to find these bolts. It is still way run out in it's current condition.

If you want to climb it in it's original fashion, only clip the following bolts:

P1: 1, 3 & 5
P2: 2, 4 & 6
P3: All current bolts are in the original location

Be careful and enjoy this incredible "Classic"!
By Russ Walling
May 13, 2008

Old Skool writes:
If you want to climb it in it's original fashion, only clip the following bolts:
P1: 1, 3 & 5
P2: 2, 4 & 6
P3: All current bolts are in the original location

THAT IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS. Is this what it has come to? Pathetic.
By Jeffrey Lieberman
Jun 2, 2008

The Fish is right!!!
By Jon O'Brien
From: Nevada
Apr 24, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R

This is an "OLD SCHOOL" classic! STOP ADDING BOLTS UNLESS YOU CLAIM THE FA OR HAVE THE FA PARTY'S BLESSING! Isn't it that simple?! Let's have some pride and respect for our classics! The first ascentionists are locals and are available for input, go ask them next time, if they give their blessing, have at it!(I hope you at least have the integrity to bolt it in the same style they did! There's a REASON there's so few bolts...) If you aren't sure about the climb, don't lead it! There are a plethora of others to lead in our area! I've led it sans extra bolts, it IS scary, it IS run out, it IS a beautiful test piece and very useful for practicing your mental game for the big show! Test piece means test piece, respect the steps of those that came before us, this is not a sport climb, if you think it should be then you are venturing into unknown territory. I vote to restore the climb to it's original condition. If you fear a broken ankle, keep in mind that you pass tons of heavily bolted 5.9's on the drive out...future generations should be able to enjoy it for what it is...(or was) If this was within the confines of Yosemite it would be a moot point. Chop them.

IMHO of course...
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Jun 2, 2009

Jon, I'm not advocating the new bolts (either way), but I think that it is a stretch to say that "... you pass tons of heavily bolted 5.9's on the drive out..." Where would these be? Specifically, where are there three pitch, reasonably bolted, 5.9's going up a granite dome in the Sierra?
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Feb 5, 2010

So, I did a little poking around, and Alan H. got Vern's approval for putting the new bolts in. So there you have it, the FA was aware and okay with the bolts. Is that a satisfactory enough reason for not chopping the bolts?

EDIT: I got to the conclusion above by looking through a thread on SuperTaco. In that thread, someone pointed out the "approval", however, I think Russ' post below is far more complete and provides a different conclusion.
By Russ Walling
Feb 5, 2010

This does not sound like Ok and aware to me:

From a SuperTopo Post:

Hair Raiser bolt removal - revisited

In response to posts on bolt removal on Hair Raiser, a few thoughts from the one who first led and protected the pitch in, I think, 1975:

My letter in the June, 2005 issue of Climbing ("A Woolly Mammoth Pleads") states, "I respectfully request climbers not alter a route where I'm party to the first ascent. Thank you." I also asked, "If a route has changed (missing bolt, significant feature gone), please contact me before adding bolts." My letter was intended as a request and gentle persuasion. I said, " ... a first ascent is not only a topo of features and moves, but an achievement to be appreciated with fixed protection left as originally done." I hoped to head off further "fixes" of my routes and of "traditional" routes generally, as they seem to be gaining in popularity.

I did not ask for the added bolts on Hair Raiser to be removed. My experience with removing bolts suggests it is counterproductive. Long ago, when I removed the bolts from Hand Jive in Tuolumne because they were placed on rappel (at the time, quite an affront to accepted climbing practice), no one was persuaded by my actions; the rock was scarred; the bolts were quickly replaced; and bolt hangers on a route of mine (the Vision) probably were flattened in retribution (I can't be sure - no one fessed up). It seems bolting and erasing wars do no good. Debate, discussion, posts and letters are the better means for trying to keep the long held agreement among climbers not to alter original protection. (For a fuller discussion, see "Rock Climbs of Tuolumne Meadows," Reid and Falkenstein, Chockstone Press, 1983).

Some posts on this subject speculate about the opinion of my partner on the route, Vern Clevenger, on the need for additional bolts after the first ascent. At the moment, I don't know Vern's opinion. However, I believe adding bolts to an existing route should not be done lightly. Every effort should be made to consult with all those responsible for the climb. I have had partners agree and disagree with my bolt placements on first ascents, and visa versa. I have done (and turned back) from climbs where I felt more, less or differently placed bolts would be good. My opinions or those of partners in such cases did not lead to changing bolts, nor should they.

When I first led the Hair Raiser first pitch, I protected some of it with thin slings snugged around chicken heads. Slinging is essential to making many climbs reasonable to lead. One example is Fantasia at Lover's Leap. I hope no one has decided to add a bolt to this climb because they can't or won't sling a critical knob. There are other such examples.

The tricky move at the beginning of Hair Raiser could lead to injury, but probably not death. Slinging makes the climb an "R," not "X." Still, one should feel comfortable leading a good way out on 5.8 before doing the climb. There are many similar "R" climbs where protection skills are important. I hope the trend is not to bolt them all.

Thank you,

Tom Higgins

(and then he added)

In sum, for now I will ask for climbers to leave HB as it stands. I am open to receiving more information on the questions I've raised, consider further and post. I also will consult with my partner for the climb. I hope all this seems reasonable. Ultimately, today's climbers will have to decide what to preserve and not, as the wonder and fragility of the game is each new generation gets to determine how to play it.

(and finally he added)

First Ascent Party Position

I have contacted Vern Clevenger as promised, relayed to him all posting information I could find and asked his perspectives. His sense is if the route is back to its original state (no original bolts removed), then it should stand as is. Based on the information above, I am of the same mind. I have detailed in my last Supertopo post on the HB thread a rationale for leaving first ascents as is. Given the pitch difficulty and possibility of natural protection on the first ascent line (up and right after first hard move, not straight up), it seems reasonable now to leave the original protection stand. However, Vern and I agreed it's important to spread the word and alert relevant guidebook authors to (1) the need to carry slings (thin preferred) for possible protection on knobs and (2) the possible 5.8 X nature of the pitch. One or both of us will contact the guidebook authors.

Tom Higgins
By Euan Cameron
From: Mammoth Lakes
Feb 6, 2010

Anytime a bolt is added or chopped there is an issue. To me its simple. If the style of the first ascent fits the area, leave as is - there is no need to change it.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Feb 9, 2010

Thanks for providing the background. I guess I was just trying to assume the best from the person who put the new bolts in. I just wanted to avoid the following situation that recently occurred at a very traditional area that I used to be a local at. In short, a very spicy multi-pitch slab route was put up in the 1970's. The sole FA then put a few additional bolts in around 2004 because he wanted more people to enjoy his route (still nowhere near a sport route). Those bolts were promptly chopped and the rock now sports ugly holes. I thought that perhaps there was a similar situation on Hair Raiser, but if that is not the case, than I am not sure what should be done now that the new bolts are there. Have either of you (Russ or Euan) climbed the route with and without the bolts? Does it drastically change the feel of the route?

Euan, I more or less agree with you about matching the style to the area....

Thanks for posting the info guys.
By Russ Walling
Feb 9, 2010

I have not done the route, but have been to the base a couple of times... that being said, I have ZERO desire to do the route with the additional bolts in place. I am VERY interested in doing the route the way it was originally set up with the runouts as described by the FA.

As a side note: If anyone is planning on chopping any bolts, anywhere, PLEASE fill the holes and do a good camo job.

And to log a little soapbox time, this route in particular should only have bolts in the original locations. I would fully support removal of the new bolts.
By trying hard
From: Sierra East Side
Aug 23, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

This is a classic for the East side. A great way to show someone what multi pitch is like without having to place gear. Make sure your a confident 5.9 leader. Sometimes this lead feels much harder than the grade if your not comfortable on slopers and little hold while being quite exposed. Great position and a fun pucker ride for some.

Hardest moves or getting to the first bolt, but there is a beautiful 5.9 sequence and its easy, just heady as you are stepping off a boulder onto the side of the climb to enter it. This puts you 18 feet or so off the ground before your even climbing. Thought the crux was on pitch 3 at the beginning moving off small holds over a bulge.

You might want a car with four wheel and high clearance, there is a lot of soft pumice on this road and big holes as well as high sage roots. I make it out there in a car just fine though.

20 sends on this thing, and have taken so many people on this great climb.
By C-Tuttle
Sep 29, 2010

Supper fun climb. Have done it several times with people who wanted to experience their first multi pitch.
By rex parker
From: las vegas n.v
Apr 28, 2011

well first of all, stick clipped the first bolt. a fall at the start would mess you up. second after the first pitch serioulsly go with the more patinaed, dark ,juggy stuff to the right dont follow the route to the left its much harder. Even though you can see bolts every 8 feet dont do it go right. It looked like many holds have fallen or flaked off. I believe it has gotten harder over the years. we climbed this yesterday and their is hawks that have nested around the corner on vern's trad route to the right. So watch your neck. you better have some cool nerves and good slab skills.
By rex parker
From: las vegas n.v
Apr 28, 2011

oh and every thing is dried out no snow as of 4-27-11 rex
By BAd
Jun 10, 2011

Hey, Rex: Do you mean climb to the right of the bolts but you can still reach left and clip them? Or are you advocating a big runout with, maybe, some tie-offs?

By Todd Townsend
From: Bishop, CA
Apr 14, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

I think rex is alluding to the newer route, that goes up and left from the top of pitch 1, that is referenced in the first post. The new bolt line is obvious from the belay, but it is hard to see where the original line goes. Keep climbing up and right and you'll eventually find the next bolt, probably...
By squiddo Siddens
From: Mountain View, CA
Aug 21, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

Great route in a great and remote feeling location
By old5ten
From: Berkeley + Sunny Slopes, CA
Sep 30, 2013
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

Awesome, classic route! In terms of topo, bolts, etc. we did not see a three (any) bolt anchor on top of P3. Very much like 'Loose Lady' in JTree in terms of climbing, just more runout and serious. First couple of moves are not hard for 5.9, but committing and with bad fall potential. I would actually say that the crux of P1 is around the 3rd/4th bolt where the holds get smaller and the angle kicks back only a little.
By butters
From: Mammoth Lakes, Ca
Aug 7, 2014
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

hair raising climb! solid 5.9 and some real R rating. Be solid on slopers and trust your feet! Pitch 1 felt sustained all the way through. Pitch 2 at 5.8 was much easier than pitch 1 but had big runouts.. so just try and stay calm. Pitch 3.. looking upto the first bolt was intimidating but there are good feet and crimps but its all there. A mental climb!!
By straw
Sep 5, 2016

Definitely deserves the R rating - movements are secure the whole way if confident, but there are very few places I would have liked to fall. Not a place for your first 5.9. We stick clipped the first bolt.

Route gets easier as confidence builds. The crux felt to be around 2/3rds up P1.

If P3 has bolt anchors at the top, they're in a very hard-to-find place. Built an anchor using a pink tri-cam, a #13 stopper, and a .3 cam. Cord with rap rings were present, which appeared sturdy and we rappelled off of.

Also on P3, there is a seam where a stopper could provide reassuring protection. When we climbed, a stopper was already in place, which we left.
By BruceB
From: Reno, NV
May 30, 2017
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

Most memorable route I've done for quite a while. Absolutely beautiful line with awesome positioning. Old school yes, but no different to many routes in Tuolumne.
Getting to the first bolt is definitely "R" and not a gimme. The rest of the climb felt "PG13".
Current bolt count is 6, 7, 4, as per Marty's guide. Slings and rap rings at the top, no bolts. The walk off is mellow and quick.
By Marek Hajek
From: Reno, NV
Jun 2, 2017
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a R

Pitches 1 & 2 can be run together with an 80m rope for a mega pitch. The 80m rope makes it with very little left over, so, I don't think this can be done with a 70m rope. Pretty nice climb. The 5.10 to the left of it is another super classic.
By Doug Jones
Sep 29, 2017

After a fall on follow, resulting in a torn Achilles tendon on Saturday 9/23, my father left a tan pair of La Sportiva Tradmasters at the base of hair-raiser buttress. If anyone has found them please e-mail Greg Jones at

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