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I Can't Believe It's a Girdle 

YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b R

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 300'
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b R [details]
FA: (P1): Randy Vogel, Charles Cole, 82 (P2): Phil Broscovak, Vogel, Jim Angione, 11/78 (P3): Vogel, Dave Houser, Maria Cranor (P4) Broscovak, Bartlett
Page Views: 6,689
Submitted By: Randy on Jan 1, 2003

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Following pitch 3 of I Can't Believe It's A Girdl...


This 4 pitch route provides an excellent excercise in traversing along a thin dike that runs about mid-height through all three sections of the formation. The 2nd and 3rd pitches are scarier for the second than the leader. The route was put up over a number of years, with the 1st pitch being the last one established.

Pitch 1: (5.10b) Start off a small ledge near the left end of the west face, (near a small Yucca). Tricky and thin face moves up and left (5.10b), past a bolt, then straight up past 3 more bolts and a horizontal (medium cam) to a bolt belay on the left end of the dike. (You can traverse in from the left onto the dike to the belay -- avoiding 1st pitch -- as was done on the first ascent of the 2nd pitch).

Pitch 2: (5.9++; Scary for 2nd) Follow the dike right (3 bolts) all the way to a 2 bolt belay in a recess. Second should avoid falling after unclipping from the bolt protecting the crux -- it would be a long swing. From the end of this pitch, you can escape up easy cracks (5.6).

Pitch 3: (5.9) Keep heading right (above dike), then downclimb onto the dike, which at this point actually forms the lip of a very large roof. Well protected (but airy) moves lead to another recess and bolt anchor.

Pitch 4: (5.7) A last traversing pitch, past a single bolt (and optional gear) leads to easy climbing up to a large ledge. Scramble down right to the ground.


1st Pitch: 4 bolts, medium cams; bolt anchor; 2nd Pitch: 3 bolts, bolt anchor; 3rd Pitch: 6 bolts, bolt anchor; 4th Pitch: 1 bolt, medium cams for belay

Photos of I Can't Believe It's a Girdle Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Heading for the last bolt, Middle Brother.
Heading for the last bolt, Middle Brother.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3 of I Can't Believe It's A Girdle, JT. Phot...
Pitch 3 of I Can't Believe It's A Girdle, JT. Phot...
Rock Climbing Photo: The lip
The lip
Rock Climbing Photo: I Can't Believe It's a Girdle (5.10a R), Joshua Tr...
BETA PHOTO: I Can't Believe It's a Girdle (5.10a R), Joshua Tr...
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave Hamilton approaching the runout (for the foll...
Dave Hamilton approaching the runout (for the foll...

Comments on I Can't Believe It's a Girdle Add Comment
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By phil broscovak
Feb 11, 2003

I love this route. Even if I hadn't had a little to do with its development I would still think it worthy of 3 stars. Now that Randy has put up the 1st pitch I will just have to go back and do it again. This is a fun an exciting route with spicy exposure for both the leader and the second. "I can't believe it's a girdle" has had an interesting multi-year development and has had photos featured in two black diamond catalogs. Someone out there must have some postable pics of this unusual and enjoyable route. Do yourselves a favor give this girdle traverse a go. Thank you Randy for posting it.
By L. Hamilton
Nov 25, 2003

Feels like an adventure. One of the most fun routes I've done at Josh.
By C Miller
From: CA
Dec 18, 2003
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R

A unique adventure with adequate protection where you need it - don't get on this route if just breaking into the grade. This route is made for all those people who frequent Gunsmoke. Fun climbing with exciting moves and excellent positioning. Five stars out of five - why not.
By phil broscovak
Feb 20, 2004

does anyone know if this route has ever been done or tried from right to left instead of left to right?
By Scotty Nelson
From: Boulder
Apr 2, 2007

I heard a rumor that part of this route had fallen off, and it's now 5.11?
By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Dec 4, 2007
rating: 5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b R

We did it a few days ago, nothing obvious had fallen off and it's definitely nowhere near 5.11, but I think it is a little sandbagged at .10a. The move past the first bolt on P1 was a tenuous eye opener.

Anchor info is incorrect. The first 3 belays are bolted, only P4 requires a gear anchor (fingers to hands, or go way back to a pinch). The photos in the description actually show p3, not p2. P4 is much easier than the others, but you may want to take a #0.5 or #1 camalot for a flaring crack just after stepping across.

Spicy is right! Have the ropegun leading the odd pitches.
By Ryan Kelly
From: work.
Oct 3, 2008
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b R

The anchor at the end of the third pitch, just before the end of the second column, is one good bolt and one old (buttonhead I think?). It'll create a fair amount of rope drag, and add a lot of slack to the system should the second fall after leaving the anchor - which happens to be the crux of the traverse and R for the follower - not to mention increase communication difficulties for the second through the crux. I'd highly recommend continuing into the slot before the next, final, column and setting up a gear anchor. For the same reason I'd recommend the rope gun following the odd pitches, or at least the third.
By Phil Esra
Nov 29, 2011

Stout for the grade. P1 is the technical crux. We did the p3 anchor Ryan's way, which gives the follower bad fall potential once past the bolted belay, but seems slightly better overall.
By Nick Rhoads
Apr 6, 2012

Very interesting route. There might be some confusion out there between the guidebooks regarding which pitch is which after the starting 10a pitch 1 was added. Starting from that pitch, pitch 3 would be the killer for the follower. If they blew it after un-clipping the bolt they would probably hit that edge down below. Also, setting up a gear belay at the end of P3 again takes the follower into dangerous territory, I wish my partner would have used the bolt belay.

Scary traverse, but easy, for P4 over a hollow (see behind it) dike. Overall, it's an experience to remember.

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