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Intersection Rock
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Zigzag T 

Left Ski Track 

YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 160'
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Al Ruiz and Rich Wolfe, 1966 FFA:Tom Higgins, April 1968
Page Views: 10,939
Submitted By: C Miller on Jan 1, 2005

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (94)
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The "Boxer" (Karl Runde) getting it done...


The east face of Intersection Rock is sliced by several left- slanting crack systems (The Ski Tracks), all of which offer good to excellent crack climbing. This route, as the name implies, takes the left-most crack that reaches from the ground all the way to the top in one elegant sweep.

While it's certainly possible to break into two pitches, it's recommended to be done as one long pitch. The crux is found early on near a bolt, but stays interesting for a bit longer. Near the halfway mark there are several options to finish - 1) stay in the crack to the top or 2) cut out right and climb steep plates, finishing right of the crack. To descend make two single rope rappels down Mike's Books on the south face of the formation or make one single rope rappel from the top of North Overhang on the north side of the formation (you will want a 60 meter rope for this rap).

A really fun route that is so close to the road there's really no excuse for not doing it at least once. Should the climbing seem difficult, imagine climbing it like Tom Higgins did on the first free ascent - without all the modern gear available today! Three stars out of five.


Bolt (3/8") and a selection of gear to 3"

Photos of Left Ski Track Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Darin Limvere at the crux. April, 2006.
Darin Limvere at the crux. April, 2006.
Rock Climbing Photo: Intersection Rock - North Face
BETA PHOTO: Intersection Rock - North Face
Rock Climbing Photo: Left Ski Track
Left Ski Track
Rock Climbing Photo: Joe passed the crux and into easier terrain.
Joe passed the crux and into easier terrain.
Rock Climbing Photo: David comfortably situated just past the bolt.
David comfortably situated just past the bolt.
Rock Climbing Photo: Darin climbing the cruiser 5.10 past the crux.
Darin climbing the cruiser 5.10 past the crux.
Rock Climbing Photo: Park Ranger climbing LST
Park Ranger climbing LST
Rock Climbing Photo: Left Ski Track
Left Ski Track
Rock Climbing Photo: Chris Janiszewski onsight/flashing Left Ski Track
Chris Janiszewski onsight/flashing Left Ski Track
Rock Climbing Photo: Matt Carroll cruising -Photo by Bergie
Matt Carroll cruising -Photo by Bergie
Rock Climbing Photo: A couple of free soloers on 11/29/2016
A couple of free soloers on 11/29/2016
Rock Climbing Photo: Left Ski Track
Left Ski Track
Rock Climbing Photo: Brett getting off the ground.
Brett getting off the ground.

Comments on Left Ski Track Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 29, 2015
By Murf
Nov 15, 2002

Crux is getting to the bolt, once the bolt is clipped, the difficulty eases way down.
By Joe Collins
Mar 27, 2003

I backed off this route when I tried it about a year and a half ago. I absolutely could not trust the gear just below the crux... I believe it was a red alien in a slightly flaring boxy pin scar.I tested it best I could from the ground but I just couldn't commit to the crux once I'd climb back up... it just looked too sketchy. If it blows, its probably hello groundfall. Anyone fallen' on this piece? There really aren't any other options for gear so I suspect this is the piece most people use.

I found Bendix Claws to be considerably easier, though who knows since I wasn't willing to commit to this section.
By Josh Beck
Mar 27, 2003

It took me 4 or 5 tries to red point this one. The first try was practically C1 last spring as I wasn't even strong enough for the route and I quickly discovered (as you did) that the gear is very tricky. However it does protect well. I got 4 excellent pieces in before getting to the bolt, and there's a place for a 5th. I won't publicly post a ton of gear beta for those that don't want to read it, but with Aliens and TCUs it protects quite well and I can assure you that the placements below the bolt can hold falls :) After the bolt the climbing and gear placement ease dramatically.
By Josh Beck
Mar 27, 2003

Oh, re: the red alien placement. A red (#4) TCU fits there MUCH MUCH better, but there are other bomber placements above and below this one as well.
By Steven Powers
Oct 14, 2003

once you commit to the crux you can shove a purple Camalot(#4) itno the fist, hand jam slot, or if you want to dodge the jam you can plae it before the crux, this will definatly keep you off the deck.
By M. Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Oct 23, 2003

Strenuous!! Luckily it eases way up after the crux.
By Joe Brophy
From: San Diego
Feb 6, 2005
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

I have to agree with Josh. The #4TCU works great down low. Took a fall on it and it held. With that confidence and a quick lower to the ground, sent it next try. That and a #4 B.D. is all you really need to get you to the bolt. That is what I love about this site. Friendly gear beta, pictures, and stories about the 'ole days'. Keep'em coming.
By Mike
From: Phoenix
Sep 18, 2006

I struggled on this route and thought it a bit stiff for the grade.
By ChugachMan
May 2, 2007
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

I dont want to give away too much beta for those who don't want it, but a number 2 C4 fits wonderfully in the back of the number 4 placement mentioned above, and the smaller piece will help make this jam/hold still usable.
By Russ Walling
Oct 24, 2007
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Here is some early 80's footage of me soloing the Left Ski Track.
By Adam Stackhouse
Oct 24, 2007

RE: Russ' video....the great make it look easy kids. Don't try this at home....Cool vid!
By M. Morley
From: Sacramento, CA
Oct 24, 2007

Good stuff, Russ! My hands were sweating watching it...I felt like I needed to chalk up!
By armand rollice
From: rancho cucamonga
Feb 26, 2008

Great climb. Have done it a few times now. The crux is getting to the bolt for me I have since now got it clean. But have fallen before the bolt on a #2 Camelot plugged into the flarry crack. I also used a #4 red metolius tcu just below the #2 and have fallen on that as well. Both pieces of pro held my fall. Just put them in correctly. I also weigh about 140 pounds. Have fun on this classic.
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Oct 23, 2008

once climbed, easy to set up TR where the pitch eases off and the difficulties lower to 5.7 or so. anchor takes medium cams (#2,#3 BD).
By Eric D
From: Gnarnia
Dec 1, 2008

Before getting on this I was intimidated by the stories of poor gear below the bolt. But, I found three bomber and easy placements below the bolt and thought the route to be very safe. I couldn't have asked for better gear.
By ccmski body
From: Seattle, WA
Oct 14, 2009

The route steals stars from other hidden gems. One star out of five for the location and keeping people off other routes. Short crux and otherwise uninteresting climbing.
By GoBoy
Mar 17, 2011

I protect the crux w/ 2 tricams in the flaring huecos @ about waist level from that bomber left fist jam ~15' up. red & blue fit perfect & have held a short fall w/ out blocking key holds for your 2nd. They're easy to place 1 handed if you rack them on individual biners when you rope up. Ive done this route several times now, My rack: (1) draw, (2)#1 c4's (1)#2 c4, (1)#3 c4, (1)blue tricam, (1)red tricam. Anchor w/ medium nuts or sling the big block.
By Jack Ziegler
From: Golden, CO
May 2, 2011

tricam beta is right on. You can also get in a number 5 c4 above those.
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Oct 1, 2012

So I took a lead ground fall on Saturday last week on this climb. Not fun. I fell about 20 feet to the ground. The fact that I didn't end up paralyzed or dead is amazing to me. I can tell you that a #4 does not work behind the first big jug/flake hold that is about 17 feet up from the ground. I had a #4 placed there and it pulled when I took a lead fall about 3 feet above it. Scary. I would say a #5 would be pretty bomber there, a little higher up in the flake where the crack is more parallel. The only way I can account for the #4 pulling is that the placement was a little flaring where the cam was at, and I didn't sling the cam. The only way it could pull like it did was due to some rotation that must have occured when I climbed past the placement. I went to Desert Medical Center in J-Tree after the fall, and they did a full CT scan of my chest area to make sure my organs didn't suffer any lacerations or that any of my ribs were broken. Be careful on this climb! Lesson learned: large cams still need to be placed with caution and appropriately, and slung if you anticipate any movement as you climb past it. Sloppy placements on larger cams may seem ok because of the size of the cam, but if the cam moves, all bets are off... My original placement of the #4 had all lobes at the same angle and set properly, but the cam must have shifted as I climbed past it. Don't use a #4 on that placement on this climb! Side note: I am not proud of this ground fall. It is actually embarassing for me to talk about it, but I want to make sure other climbers don't make the same mistake.
By Russ Walling
Oct 1, 2012
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Dude, glad you are ok on that ripper. I've seen so many people chased down that climb with their cams following them it ain't funny. I've never thought that lower section took good pro at all. That feature you describe is known as the "fin" and is right before the crux moves. Best pro going right there is an old fashioned #11 hex. Swear to Satan, the thing is beyond bomber. Try it next time instead of a cam.
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Oct 2, 2012

Thanks for the gear beta, Russ. I really enjoyed the lower movements of the climb. Solid climbing, good sequence with strong moves. I just botched the upper crux section and thought I would take a "short fall" to reset and take another look at the section just below the bolt. What a surpirse when I let go and fell to the ground. The climb is fun and heady, and I do want to lead it again, as soon as my ribs feel up to it. The doctor said "don't climb for a week or so", but I think that was pretty optimistic. I am pretty sure I tore the cartilage where my ribs attach to my solar plexus area. Just an impact injury. I also just bought a #5 cam thinking it might work a little higher in the "fin" area. Have you ever seen someone use that in that placement?
By Russ Walling
Oct 2, 2012
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Seems the best stuff guys use is smaller cams way in the back of those pods. Never seen a #5 up there in the fin slot, but maybe it will fit better than the #4? It is a tricky one to protect and IMO some pretty hard moves between the fin and the slammer hand jam past the bolt.
By Will S
From: Joshua Tree
Oct 2, 2012

The #4 (Red) TCU beta in comments above is spot on, I've fallen on it. Old style #4 camalot (purple) is also bomber next to the fin, I imagine a new #5 would also be fine. The pro is not totally straightforward, but it is sufficient and solid, no reason to be taking groundfalls on this.
By Nelson Day
From: Joshua Tree, CA
Oct 2, 2012

I agree, there really never is a "reason" to take a ground fall on a climb. In retrospect, I should have slung my #4 cam. When I placed the cam, it was solid. It had to have walked as I climbed past it. If I had slung it, it should have been fine. Thanks for the feed back.

I didn't/don't have a #4 tcu, or I might have tried it. I did consider the tricams, and tried to place them, but the effort required to place the red tricam seemed pretty intense, and I decided to go to the fin instead. I suppose I could have placed the red tricam from the fin hold, if I had suspected my #4 at all.

I took an educated risk. I made a plan, practiced the sequence up to the fin, racked the #4 on my right side at the front, and executed. Everything went as per plan, I just made the mistake of not slinging the #4. If you take a look at the pictures on this page, you will notice that all of the pictures show the cam placed behind the fin not slung. Be careful with this! Do yourself a favor, and pre-sling your "fin" cam while you are on the ground and rack it as such.
By Drewsky
Dec 27, 2013

That video is rad, Russ. I've flirted with soloing this one but never could quite commit at the crux. The landing zone inspires no confidence. I've happily settled for leading it and it seems like I end up doing it every time I'm in J-Tree. OK, it's not the longest, most elegant crux section out there but it's a campground classic and kind of an historical 'must do'. I think the movement is pretty darn cool, but I'm a sucker for weird, thrutchy climbs.

Nelson, I've seen at least a half dozen people receive severe beatdowns on this thing so no need to feel embarrassed. I'm just glad you weren't hurt badly as that landing is terrible! I've always placed the #4 exactly where you did and thought it looked fine too. It's amazing how easily a gear placement can turn sketchy with a little movement, and if it's the only thing between you and the deck...
By Russ Walling
Dec 27, 2013
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c

Long winded old guy reminiscing:
Funny story about the Left Track.... BITD these bad assss™ climbers would run a train on that thing every morning AND evening..... and many other "boulder problems" in the loop too. So at some point Lechlinksi decides it is my time to do this thing. No worries that I had never done it before, not even on a rope as I recall..... so he goes first and hangs out just above the crux giving me beta..... I get it on my third try! Dropped off the fin a couple of times (too pumped to downclimb) and straight popped to the talus once, landing kinda hard. Remember that that was the method back then..... Largo made us all solo the Waterchute once, with him up above us barking directions... we had never done it before, and we only lost the last guy in the train who took a wicked ripper out of that thing, and high up too.... Same with Strawberry Jam.... never done it.... Largo drags us all over there, shows us the beta, and then starts calling on guys to "come on up". Results come quick with those methods, one way or another.

Left Ski Track thread on SuperTopo:
By Tradiban
Jan 7, 2015

This thing is way past it's prime, pretty polished at this point and sketchy at the start. If you have a purple X4, it will plug the pocket right at the crux, good luck.
By dnaiscool
Mar 29, 2015

I'm with Russ onthe pro here, and I've done it with either a #11 hex or a #3.5 Tricam, and both were bomber...well, I assume they were, since I did not fall to "crash test" my gear, but they both seemed solid. On sight...never seen it before, I think this is one of the hardest .11a sections you'll find in the entire park. But like most climbs, once you've got it wired, that grade seems sort of mute. I've got some friends who consider themselves 5.11 climbers, and they were spanked by the bottom of this route. Kudos to Tom Higgins for the FFA in 1967, right?! He probably just smacked in a few pins at the crux...

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