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Ho Chi Minh Trail 

YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, 19 pitches, 2000'
Original:  YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Clint Cummins & Joel Ager - May, 1989
Page Views: 5,372
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Oct 8, 2008

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Pitch 17 - 10c.

Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection MORE INFO >>>


Ho Chi Minh Trail is a variation to the upper two-thirds of the DNB and avoids the chimneys by linking features up the wall just to the right. There are still some "adventure" sections of climbing with loose rock and mandatory tree climbing, but mostly the climbing is steep and interesting. Pro is generally excellent. The length, star rating, and difficulty reflect beginning with the first six pitches of the DNB (which include the best climbing of that route and it's crux -- a trivial two-move affair).

Climb pitch 1 through 5 of the DNB.

P6: Begin up P6 of the DNB, but where that route begins to traverse left to a belay on the top of a ledge system formed by huge flakes, continue up and right. The route face climbs and ascends a left-facing corner to a bolted belay on a pedestal. The anchor here is new, and it can be spotted from below which helps with route-finding. This is the P7 belay in the Reid topo. 5.9, 190'.

P7: Locate a significant, huge left facing corner (difficult to see) capped by a huge roof (obvious) high above. Your goal is a belay near the base of this corner. Traverse up and right off the belay passing a bolt. Continue up past an optional belay ledge and into an S-curving left-facing corner. 5.10c, 180'.

P8: Pass another bolt off the belay to the right, then continue up to a belay ledge on a large sloping ledge system below a huge diorite chimney/gully feature. This is the pitch 10 belay on the Reid topo. 5.10a, 180'.

P9: Climb up into the chimney (slightly wet in places), then traverse wildly around to the right and continue up the headwall to belay on a ramp feature below some large trees in a mossy chimney. 5.10a, 190'.

P10: Traverse right on knobs around a pillar, and continue into a right facing corner. Up this past some lichen-covered liebacking (good climbing though), and up to a belay at a good stance. 5.10c, 180'.

P11: Head up and left on easy, loose blocks, then up twin cracks to a belay just above and to the left of a long roof. This is the pitch 14 belay on the Reid topo. 5.9.

P12: Climb out right and up an unprotected slab, using the tree to finish the last scary move. Continue up a corner/groove to a belay at the Turret ledge. 5.8.

P13: Climb up nebulous terrain, cracks, and loose rock up and to the left. Belay below a left-facing corner with a blocky undercling roof at the top. 5.8.

P14: Climb the corner and move left through the juggy roof - a cool pitch. 5.10.

P15: Up an airy flake/face to a difficult move stepping left, through a small roof, and up a thin crack above. Dirty and difficult. Belay or continue up loose rock above. 5.10.

P16: If necessary, continue climbing to a huge ledge below the top of Thirsty Spire. From here, a short 5.7 hand crack up the center of the Spire leads to 100' of 4th class to the two huge trees that mark the start of the Kat Walk.

...or something like that.


Double set from 0.3 to #2 Camalot. One #3. Wires.

Photos of Ho Chi Minh Trail Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbering
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 16 off Turret notch. This is where you go le...
Pitch 16 off Turret notch. This is where you go le...

Comments on Ho Chi Minh Trail Add Comment
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By Rob Dillon
Oct 12, 2008

That two-move sequence is scarcely 'trivial'!
By alix morris
From: Berkeley, CA
Sep 30, 2013

In Reid Guidebook, P19, is described as 5.8 loose...It was certainly loose and definitely WIDE. We only brought a rack to three, but if you want to safely protect this pitch, bring a five or six. OR face traverse over to an easy flaring chimney in a left facing corner that protects with a #2 or #3. [unless we were off route]

Also, I would bring doubles to three, not two. They were very helpful for the climb and belays.
By david s wilson
Oct 12, 2015

This is stellar route that needs some more traffic. We linked it up into 12 pitches last Saturday with a 70 meter rope. The photo overlay posted by Clint on a Suoertopo thread was very useful in the route finding. I'd say the rack is fine above. If I added anything it would be a few extra cams in the 1" range to ease on linking and making belays.

The most tricky route finding for us was the next to last pitch. After you do the pitch with 2 10b sections indicated you arrive at a belay with a single bolt. Above here you look up from right to left at: a left facing squeeze chimney, a prominent right facing corner, discontinuous cracks leading to a 4" crack that splits a steep section on white rock. You want to stay left and head up to below the 4" crack and then bust left around the corner in an improbable traverse. With a full 70 you can go to the top in this pitch
By Vlad S
May 16, 2016
rating: 5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b

Felt like pitch 5 was a bit more sustained and trickier than pitch 3 which really is a trivial two mover as described on very clean rock and with a bolt at your face. A few of the 5.10 pitches higher up also required a higher commitment level due to dirty and questionable rock. 70 m rope was not needed anywhere. We did all the logical links doing the route in 14 pitches and none of the pitches were longer than 60 m. Lots of shorter pitches don't make sense to link due to the back-and-fourth traversing. I would recommend bringing the shorter cord to save on weight.

On pitch 12 (Reid 15), we didn't find either the slab, or runout, or a dead tree to pull on. It went up and right through worn rock on jugs with good gear and up past some very much alive-and-in-your-way trees.

David's comment about (Reid) pitch 19 is spot on and I wish I remembered it better. Climbing up and back down the obvious lichen-encrusted 4" fist crack was not fun. The pitch goes out of the view around the LEFT arete after 30 feet of easy scrambling on a pile of loose blocks and links well into the 5.7 hand crack on p 20.
By Neal H. Konami
Aug 17, 2016

Absolutely sandbagged (again!) by my longtime climbing partner, Hans Lippuner, into doing this climb circa 1999. He claims Dan Osman is the one who turned him on to this Route. I only found out later that Clint Cummins is responsible for this bold, almost visionary line that makes the touted DNB look like mere child's play. And even after firing the route, you still have to find and cross the wildly exposed Kat Walk; and preferably be familiar with the East Buttress Descent. I think the best part of the HCMT is the "wild" traverse on Pitch 9! It is a full 200 feet and must be some of the most bold and exposed Valley trad climbing period. I think the so-called 5.8 roof on Pitch 12 is under-rated, scary, exciting, and distressingly pumpy for the Grade. I enjoyed leading Pitch 15 (5.10c thin crack), and especially because you top-out at a small tree and nice ledge. We 3rd Classed from here to the Kat Walk, which I wish we knew beforehand that "two huge trees" mark the start.
The only long trad climb I can compare this to is the 20+ pitch Sun Ribbon Arete on Temple Crag, which is much easier. Epinephrine is easier still, and a walk in the Park compared to the HCMT. What about "10" on Patterson Bluff for length, difficulty, and commitment level at 15 pitches, which you have to rap down into even before you can then start the climb (a majority of the pitches being solid 5.10, and harder)? I think the Red Dihedral on the Incredible Hulk, or Fish Hook Arete on Mt. Russell, both car-to-car, are easier and less committing than the HCMT. I have since searched-out and aspire to Mr. Cummin's "Recommended List" of long trad climbing routes in the Valley!

By Michael Dom
From: Seattle
Oct 14, 2016

This route is Yosemite at it's finest. Be sure to bring a topo with you since this route wanders. You will definitely remember this one.
By Dmitriy Litvak
From: Pacifica, CA
May 17, 2017

Any word on whether the route stays dry in the early season.
By Sirius
From: Oakland, CA
6 days ago

I thought p3 was .11-, not .10+. Bit of a runout sequence on two mantles leading to the crux - no falls here, would be ugly.

I think the best part of the HCMT is the "wild" traverse on Pitch 9! It is a full 200 feet and must be some of the most bold and exposed Valley trad climbing period.

100% agree. Two years after we climbed it and this pitch shines as the wildest on a route full of excellent pitches. Not "bold" per se, in the way I understand that word ie heady, but an airy voyage into a surprising sequence of route-finding decisions with biiiiiig air beneath your feet - absolutely loved it. With a 70 we linked this and the next pitch, up through the dark chimney flake and onto the ledge (never found the .10c indicated there).

David's comment about (Reid) pitch 19 is spot on and I wish I remembered it better. Climbing up and back down the obvious lichen-encrusted 4" fist crack was not fun.

We went straight up this crack, protected with a #3 C4 and went at .10- (lichen).

With a 70m we linked in 11 pitches. We definitely didn't want to do the Kat Walk in the dark. Now having done it, I'm glad we did it in the daylight.

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