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Time Wave Zero 

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

Type:  Sport, 23 pitches, 2300', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.12a French: 7a+ Ewbanks: 25 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 25 British: E5 6a [details]
FA: Ed Wright, Dane Bass, Paul Irby, Jimmy Carse, Jon Robinson
Page Views: 54,389
Submitted By: M. Morley on Jan 6, 2008

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From the summit of Time Wave Zero.


Time Wave Zero is one of the longest routes at El Potrero Chico. The route is about 2,300 feet and is listed as 23 pitches in the guidebook, although it is possible to climb in as few as 13 pitches with a 60m cord. All belay and rappel anchors are fixed, which allows for quick progress. The route tops out on the summit of El Toro and affords great views of the Potrero and the surrounding Sierra Madres. The single 12a pitch is easily aided if necessary, dropping the route grade to 5.11a A0.

Most will want to climb TWZ in a day, although there is a bivy ledge half way up if you choose to (or are forced to) spend the night.

A fixed line was in place as of 1/1/08 on the final ridge traverse to the summit (pitch 23).

To descend, rap the route. Simul-rapping is highly recommended to save time. A single 60m rope will get you down, but be extremely careful, as several rappels are a FULL 30m. A 70m would provide a bit more peace of mind.

The route has been climbed in less than 2 hours.

Cultural Reference 

"Timewave Zero" is a reference to the so-called "Novelty Theory" put forth by the psychedelic philosopher/ethnobotanist Terence McKenna (1946-2000). The theory attempts to plot the complexity (i.e., novelty) of the universe over time, producing a fractal waveform known as the "timewave zero". The theory has yet to gain much traction from the greater scientific community.

Pitch Ratings and Lengths 

Pitches are as follows:
P1: 5.7, 100'
P2: 5.11a/b, 90'
P3: 5.9-, 100'
P4: 5.9-, 100'
P5: 5.10a, 100'
P6: 5.9-, 100+'
P7: 5.7, 50'
P8: 3rd class
P9: 5.9+, 100'
P10: 5.10b, 100'
P11: 5.9, 100'
P12: 5.7, 50'
P13: 5.8, 100'
P14: 5.9, 100'
P15: 5.9, 100'
P16: 5.10d, 100'
P17: 5.9+, 100'
P18: 5.9+, 100'
P19: 5.9+, 90'
P20: 5.10d, 90'
P21: 5.12a or A0, 90'
P22: 5.8, 100'
P23: 5.6, 100'


Hike past the Spires as for the Surf Bowl and Dihedrals. Just before reaching the Surf Bowl, locate a climber's trail to the right and follow for about 20' to the base of the route.


About 18 or so draws if linking pitches.

Photos of Time Wave Zero Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Bailey Crawford on her way down Time Wave Zero. 2....
Bailey Crawford on her way down Time Wave Zero. 2....
Rock Climbing Photo: Bailey Crawford on the 16th pitch of Time Wave Zer...
Bailey Crawford on the 16th pitch of Time Wave Zer...
Rock Climbing Photo: pitch 15 or something
pitch 15 or something
Rock Climbing Photo: looking TWZ
Rock Climbing Photo: Don't let anyone tell you the summit is not worth ...
Don't let anyone tell you the summit is not worth ...
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the summit of El Toro
View from the summit of El Toro
Rock Climbing Photo: Time Wave Zero taken from the back of the Potrero....
Time Wave Zero taken from the back of the Potrero....
Rock Climbing Photo: Arin Trook on Time Wave Zero, New Years Day 2008. ...
Arin Trook on Time Wave Zero, New Years Day 2008. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rest in peace Janosch.
Rest in peace Janosch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Summit of Time Wave Zero, New Years Day 2008.
Summit of Time Wave Zero, New Years Day 2008.
Rock Climbing Photo: last chossy pitch/scramble to summit
last chossy pitch/scramble to summit
Rock Climbing Photo: THis one captures the feel of the route pretty wel...
THis one captures the feel of the route pretty wel...
Rock Climbing Photo: Keeping the Moral high for the Climbing to Come! P...
Keeping the Moral high for the Climbing to Come! P...
Rock Climbing Photo: One of the first of 20-ish rappels.
One of the first of 20-ish rappels.
Rock Climbing Photo: Just getting to top of last 10d pitch and looking ...
Just getting to top of last 10d pitch and looking ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Arin Trook ascending the final pitch 23 fixed line...
Arin Trook ascending the final pitch 23 fixed line...
Rock Climbing Photo: Time Wave takes the scrubbed line up the center of...
BETA PHOTO: Time Wave takes the scrubbed line up the center of...
Rock Climbing Photo: Shows the missing hanger on P18.  Felt pretty run-...
BETA PHOTO: Shows the missing hanger on P18. Felt pretty run-...
Rock Climbing Photo: Look at that rope management
Look at that rope management

Comments on Time Wave Zero Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 13, 2017
By manuel rangel
From: Tempe, Arizona
Jan 6, 2008

[TWZ is the] south-facing wall starting just right of Surf Bowl and reaches the top for a great view all around. Starts on slabby buttress and heads up forever. Rock is generally very clean, couple of raps traverse and have fixed draws. Climbing is mostly easy 9 or 10 with one 12a pitch you can french free.

[To get there] hike up past the Agujas and trend left to Surf Bowl/Dihedrals. Just before entering Surf, look for trail going right to slabby buttress. It's the only route there.
By Karsten Duncan
From: Sacramento, CA
Jan 10, 2008

I found this route fun. There are a few pitches with poorer rock up higher including the hard but uninspiring .12 pitch. Still the route is worth doing for the overall views and don't forget the bragging rights. It is not everyday that you can climb an alpine type route with only a handful of draws. The views at the top are spectacular too.
By TravisMelin
From: Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Jan 14, 2008
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Sweet route with very straight forward consistent moves for pretty much the whole route. Contrary to what we heard other people say, the rock quality is excellent and the 5.12 pitch is a very fun, powerful lead. Well worth the time.
By Bingman
From: Fort Collins, CO
Jan 16, 2008
rating: 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Excellent route with long stretches of consistent and fun climbing. The 5.10 pitches are all excellent, and I thought the 5.12 section was very good with good rock and 1,000+ feet of exposure below your feet - a very cool experience. Definitely free this section if you still have the energy after the first 20 pitches - I would assume that it would be an uninspiring aid pitch.

Watch for loose rock on the last pitch (5.6) with the fixed rope and be mindful of the conditions of this fixed rope - it was quite frayed in a few spots this Jan (2008).

70meter rope was great.

BASE TO SUMMIT TIME (w/ Travis Melin): 4 hours 17 minutes 10 seconds! Speed Record?? (it can definitely be done much faster)
By Jimmy Farrell
From: Lexington, KY
Feb 19, 2008
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

This is definitely an amazing line. In my opinion it is the most consistently quality climb of all of the El Potrero multi-pitch routes. I think the rock quality is great overall, and the climbing is super fun. The 12a pitch is good, but I do think it is way harder than any other 12a at El Potrero, and not only because it's so high up on the wall!

As for the speed record... I'm sure this climb could be done extremely quick. On 3/8/06, Tom Grundy and I climbed from the base to the summit in just under 3 1/2 hours, with no simul-climbing at all, just linking pitches. I'm sure a competent simul-climbing team could blast up this route in half that time, or less!
By James Garrett
Feb 10, 2009

Definitely agree with Jimmy. Is this really considered a grade III instead of a grade IV? Every pitch is a masterpiece...the crux pitch is no bolt ladder clip up gimme either! Thanks for quality in Mexico! A 70m rope is better than the 1x60m we took. The rappelling takes some time and care.
By gblauer
From: Wayne, PA
Jun 18, 2009

This is an amazing route. It's well bolted and very doable in a day. The 12a pitch is a stinger at the end of the day, but, it is "aidable" through the crux. Bring plenty of water and food, it's a long climb with a LONG descent.
By gblauer
From: Wayne, PA
Aug 30, 2010

Been there, done that, won't do it again.

I am simply too old!
By Curt MacNeill
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 25, 2011

What's up with all the lousy descriptions in Mexico. This is a great route and one of the longest(if not the longest) sport route in the world. Most of the climbing felt 5.10a ish to me. I would recommend doing this in a single day, starting early, and doing it when its not too hot or cold. It doesnt hurt to start right at daylight or maybe a little before because it takes longer than you think. I linked pitches together and it took about 10 or so pitches to get very close to the top. Unfortunanetly, I ran out of food, water and daylight and had to bail somewhere aroung pitch 20. Nothing beats the 4 hours of rappelling I did in the dark. Yaay..... Overall a great route, probably not the best climbing you have ever done in the entire world, but worth doing for a day while your in Potrero. I had gone down there a stong 5.12+ to 5.13- climber planning to simul-climb the entire route but feel that it's not a great route for that, unless your strong and real comfortable simul-climbing. There is loose rock everywhere, some run outs that would suck if one of you fell while simul-climbing, and sharp rock and cactuses. Give yourself alot of time for the rappeling as well. We teamed up with another party, tied two 70 meter ropes together with a fisherman and were doing long, massive rappels and still took us quite a while. Nonetheless, this route is an adventure in a half and me being a single pitch cragging wheenie, this will most certainly feel epic even if everything goes your way. I got on alot of the classics while I was there from Space Boys and Celestial Omnibus to Surfer Rosa, Pangea and La Vaca, this was the one I seem to have the most stories about.. Enjoy the route... Mad props to the people who established Potrero. I cant even imagine the time that went into bolting some of these long routes, especially on the Jungle Wall.. Thanks for all your efforts everybody!!!!
By Dave Coleman
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 26, 2011

Amazing climb! One tip - don't link the last two pitches because the rope drag is extreme.
By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Jan 10, 2012

An Amazing Marathon of a climb! My Partner and I climbed it in 6 and 1/2 hours just with linking pitches, there is no need to simul-climb it for times sake. Took us less then two hours to rap it but we both had gri gri's and were pretty motivated to get down for dinner. The 12.a pitch is not french free'able by any means but stepping up on draws can help you gain good holds for the climbing between bolts. We did this one in the blazing hot sun and two liters each was cutting it close, water and snacks are important on this lengthy route!!

One very important tip is that if there are alot of people planning on doing the route, which often is the case on this class A cluster funk of a route, either be the first party on the route or the last because being stuck in the middle leads to tons of hanging out at belay stations in your harness in the grueling sun.

Enjoy it while your up there because chances are you wont be doing it again any time soon, haha!
By T.J. Esposito
From: San Diego, CA
Jul 31, 2012

An awesome climb!! Some of the belays suck a bit, definitely recommend linking pitches; we climbed with a 70m and simul-rapped. Great day of a ton of climbing followed by a ton of rapping, probably best to do right before a rest day! Try to get the 10d ones on lead, they were super fun (I was seconding those). The crux pitch is burly, has two distinct crux sections but apparently I missed a hold on the first of them. You will have earned your caguama of Carta Blanca and 1L margarita from La Posada afterward, especially if you climb this in the heat+sun like we did!
By Matt Skorina
From: Minneapolis, MN
Jan 7, 2016
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Some beta on the bivy if you choose to do the climb in 2 days. There is a nice ledge at the top of the short 5.7 12th pitch. There is a flat rock free area big enough for 2 people with trees between you and the downstream cliff. Feels totally fine to be unroped. There is more ledge if you walk unroped further away from the anchors which might have room for more sleeping spots but we didn't investigate further.

Each of us climbed with a 20L back with a sleeping bag strapped to the bottom. I led the 5.11 2nd pitch with no bag and hauled both packs up. That pitch is pretty steep so the bags weren't being dragged across the rock. No need for a real haul bag. We climbed the rest of the pitches that day with the bags. Pulling the roof on the 5.10b 10th pitch was pretty burly with the bag, but otherwise not a problem. The second day we left all the bivy gear at the ledge and climbed the top half with a single follower pack. We were planning on getting our stuff on the way down and making it to the base the second day, but decided to spend another night on the ledge and rap in the morning.

I thought bivying was a good option for our climbing speed. We kept the baggage light to avoid some of the suck on the first day.

Rock Climbing Photo: Bivy ledge on Time Wave Zero
Bivy ledge on Time Wave Zero
By Pink Thunder
From: Aurora
Jan 27, 2016

The grades on this thing are remarkably inconsistent. Pitches one, three and four are more like 5.3 than 5.7 or 5.9. There's a "10b" pitch later on that's no harder than 5.9, and the 20th pitch felt more like solid 5.11, especially after all the vertical mileage before that. The other 5.7 and 5.6 pitches were more like 5.2.

Also, for the 12a pitch, it's true you can french free through the hardest section, but there's also a few moves of mandatory 5.11 after that to get to the last bolt and anchors, so it's not a gimme, especially after 2,000 feet of climbing. It was sharp and painful, in my humble opinion.

But still a great route, and definitely worth doing.
By Andy Munas
From: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Apr 8, 2016

I agree that the 20th pitch felt like solid 5.11. Some inconsistency in the grades, but nothing really drastic. The 12a pitch is a very physical pitch even with the french free variation.

We linked the following pitches easily:
12,13,&14 (w/ a small amount of simul climbing on a 70 m rope)
17&18 (most strenuous of the ones we linked)

That made for a total of 16 pitches. We got it done with 18 quickdraws and 8 or so alpine draws. 10 hours up, 4 hours down - simul-rappelling. I kicked myself for not bringing some dogbones or cheap chains to replace the directionals on Pitch 6 and 18. That tat is looking pretty haggard.

If it is a sunny day, a good chance for shade on the route is spending a break hanging out on the palm tree belay at the top of Pitch 14 (awesome position). You could also try at the bivy ledge, but it would require relocating from the anchor. We had a 75-80 degree sunny day which felt pretty dang hot. We brought 3.5 liters of water each which was just barely enough.

Also - if you don't stay at Ariel's Chalet while you are in el Potrero, you are doing it wrong.
By Mike Mellenthin
From: San Francisco, CA
Aug 3, 2016

A lot has already been said. This is way fun. The grades make no sense. The 12a pitch is stout for Potrero Chico and awkward, but easy to pull through on draws. Depending on your skill level the route could go very quickly and you will be back in time for afternoon margs. Simul-rapping is probably the way to go.

The most important thing though: if you bring a cell phone and turn it on on the summit you will get WiFi from La Posada. I swear.
By Eric Sorte
From: Albuquerque, NM
Feb 6, 2017
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Park 30 feet beyond the cattle guard. Looking up you'll see the white and orange Outrage Wall on your right, and the two Spires will be in front of you. Take any of the several trails going up and head toward the spires. The trials branch a lot, but just trend toward the spires. Go up and past them, toward the saddle to hiker's left of the Outrage Wall. You'll know you're at the climb when you see a plaque that says "Time Wave Zero"!
By Eric Sorte
From: Albuquerque, NM
Feb 6, 2017
rating: 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a

Three parties climbed it in our group. All took between 8 and 9 hours to ascend, and 3 hrs to get back down. Start early and climb the initial pitches in the dark, or rap in the dark. We chose the former since we considered rapping more dangerous by far. The only deaths on this route (apart from one free-solo climb accident) have been on the rappel. Tie knots, and strongly consider using a grigri if you simul-rappel. Its really helps.

As of Feb 2017, the fixed lines were in place on pitches 7 and 23 and were in pretty good shape. There are fixed directional carabiners for the rappel on a few of the pitches (pitch 7, maybe others). If you're going to do this route, consider taking some gear to replace them; they're getting pretty ratty.

Loved the route; it was amazing.
By Court Skabelund
From: Providence, RI
Feb 25, 2017

Our Day on Time Wave:

February 6th: 80 Degrees

3:30 AM Breakfast, Hydrate, Pack-up.
4:10 AM Leave Posada
5:00 AM Start TWZ

Linked Pitches:
5/6/7 - with some stretch in the 70m.

8 - 3rd Class
9 - Could link, might cause significant rope drag.


21- The 12 Pitch. At this point just make sure your whole group makes it through this. We climbed in two groups of two and top belayed until everyone made it through the 12 to save time.
22 - Missing Bolt/Little Spicy
23 - To the Top!
(13 Pitches Total)

We made it to pitch 19 at about 12:30 and topped out at 4:00 PM. The heat and difficulty of the last four pitches hit pretty hard. We simul-rapped and made it down at a little after 8:00 PM.

Bring at least 3 Liters on water on a sunny day!
Totally worth it, not as intense as we thought it would be.
By Daniel.C Culotta
Mar 13, 2017

March 11 ascent, and we followed same pitch strategy as Court's Feb 25 comment above, which we liked but YMMV. Here's a little more beta on it.

We timed our start so that the leader hit the bottom of the second pitch at first light (6:15am), which worked perfectly.

Most of the belay stances using this strategy, and most of them on this route, are not comfortable.

Individual pitch grades were somewhat inconsistent, but in general everything listed as .10b or under felt within the .8 - .10 range.

Ascent took ~9 hours with a few breaks. First half of the route went quickly, second half slowed down as fatigue and difficulty increased. Descent took ~4 hours simulrapping with a break at the ledge and a few minor stuck ropes.

Descent: consider down-leading p23 from the summit back to the p22 anchor to avoid messing with the fixed rope. The fixed rope is in decent condition if you do want to use it. Don't miss the rappel directionals on p18 & 7. The rappel anchor directly below p10 anchors is there and in good shape.

Pitch strategy:
5/6/7 - with a new 70m rope we had about 1m left when the leader got to the p7 anchor
8 - 3rd class, unrope
10/11/12 - We could not hear each other at all here with a full rope length between us. About 4m of simulclimbing was required with a 70m rope, so figure out a communication strategy beforehand.
17/18 - physical, and p18 is missing a hanger as it angles left, leaving a slight runnout on a traverse. Leader and follower should take care not to fall here.
19/20 - p20 was stiff
21 - physical, be prepared for hard moves between the aid sections, and consider standing on a sling while aiding to make things easier.
22 - stiff
23 - obvious, but watch for loose blocks

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