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Madame Grunnebaum's Wulst 

YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 210'
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Hans Kraus, Harry Snyder, 1943
Page Views: 33,312
Submitted By: Guy H. on Feb 23, 2006

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Adrian on Madame G's, November 7, 2009


Madame G's rivals High Exposure closely for the title of best Gunks 5.6. While High E has "the move", Madame G's has a longer section of sweet, steep 5.6 jugs up a massive, exposed and unique orange buttress formed by large left-facing (Southern Pillar, 5.2) and right-facing (Northern Pillar, 5.4) dihedrals on either side.

P1: Follow the thin crack to the tree. 5.4, 50'.

P2: Traverse right into a steep left-facing dihedral, with jugs and jams. At the top, traverse right and belay on a small stance at a horizontal crack. 5.6, 80'.

P3: Follow the chalk through multiple overhangs on huge jugs and steep terrain. Near the top, angle right through the final overhang and belay at bolts. 5.6, 80'.

You can combine P1/P2 or P2/P3. The best combination is P2/P3, because you'll skip the semi-hanging belay. Bring lots of long slings - both the climbing and the protection wander.

Descent: Rap twice down the Northern Pillar side of the buttress, from sets of bolts with a single 60m (or one long mostly-free rappel with 2x60m). The top bolts are somewhat hidden: peek around a large boulder on climber's right to find them. From the clifftop and other nearby routes, you'll need to scramble back down to the top of the buttress proper, then look for the bolts.

Pre-bolts, climbers had to rappel from the tree at the corner of the buttress - both getting on rappel, and the free-hanging rappel itself, were rites of passage for newer climbers.


Standard Rack; extra hand-size cams if linking pitches.


The Madame G's access trail is the first one after Minty, about a 9-min. walk from the Uberfall, and a 5-min. walk from where the East Trapps Connector trail meets the carriage road. When the leaves are down, you'll easily identify the orange buttress itself.

To start the route, come around the left toe of the buttress and start atop some boulders below a thin-crack system leading to a large oak tree.

Photos of Madame Grunnebaum's Wulst Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: @kaufmanntaylor climbing the final moves of the se...
@kaufmanntaylor climbing the final moves of the se...
Rock Climbing Photo: Enjoying the jugs on a beautiful late summer day :...
Enjoying the jugs on a beautiful late summer day :...
Rock Climbing Photo: non necessary finish
non necessary finish
Rock Climbing Photo: Skytop and Smiley's Tower from mid way up Madame G...
Skytop and Smiley's Tower from mid way up Madame G...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber at the hanging belay.
Climber at the hanging belay.
Rock Climbing Photo: Madame G's upper pitches and rap.
BETA PHOTO: Madame G's upper pitches and rap.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber about 1/2 way up
Climber about 1/2 way up
Rock Climbing Photo: Paul Deagle - Madam G's 5.6 view from hanging bela...
Paul Deagle - Madam G's 5.6 view from hanging bela...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber following final pitch of Madame G's.  Shot...
Climber following final pitch of Madame G's. Shot...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at Madam G
Looking up at Madam G
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber at the belay
Climber at the belay
Rock Climbing Photo: Paul Deagle - Madam G's Final Pitch looking down b...
Paul Deagle - Madam G's Final Pitch looking down b...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking right to start of Northern Pillar and Guid...
Looking right to start of Northern Pillar and Guid...
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up the blocky, left-facing corner on P2.
Starting up the blocky, left-facing corner on P2.
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the top of Madame G's.
BETA PHOTO: View from the top of Madame G's.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the first rap on Madame G.
Looking down the first rap on Madame G.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing Madame G's on a rainy night.
Climbing Madame G's on a rainy night.
Rock Climbing Photo: Madame G' the rain...priceless!
Madame G' the rain...priceless!
Rock Climbing Photo: Johanna bustin' moves on Madame G's, Fall 2008.
Johanna bustin' moves on Madame G's, Fall 2008.
Rock Climbing Photo: From the second belay. Unknown climbers.
From the second belay. Unknown climbers.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Madame G's buttress. The route ascends the mid...
BETA PHOTO: The Madame G's buttress. The route ascends the mid...

Comments on Madame Grunnebaum's Wulst Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 11, 2017
By GoBotRocker
From: Spfld, Ma
Jul 4, 2006

Another awesome route, The hanging belay still gets my attention. My second climb of the new year, we did it on New Years day. The climb was bone dry until the top out which was covered with an inch or so of snow...
By Jeff Welch
From: Denver, CO
Jun 15, 2008

I wasn't really impressed by the belay opportunities in the middle to the headwall. Better to take some extra runners and link P2 and P3 together.
By Tim Schafstall
Oct 22, 2008

This climb is even better if you do P1 of Columbia, just to the left as you face the rock. That makes the climb 5.8 though. That arching crack of Columbia is a lot harder than it looks.
By doligo
Jun 21, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

This is one of the climbs you gotta save for chilly autumn days and not do it in a 90-degree weather in June. I thought the corner of P2 was more challenging than the the bulge crux of P3.
By SethG
Jun 21, 2010

I'm not sure why you need to save this route for the autumn, any more than any other route. It does get sun, just like most climbs in the Trapps. It is my favorite 5.6 in the Gunks. Did P1 Columbia and linked Ps 2 & 3 of Madame G today-- it was hot but still special!
By Barrett Stetson
Jul 31, 2011

Found P2 a good bit easier than P3. Maybe mostly mental, but also a little more burly? Had to get into more committing positions hoping the holds would be there but they always were. Hanging belay at the horizontal isn't that bad (all hand sized cams if I remember?), was kind of glad I stopped there rather than trying to run the two together (but 5.6 is also at my limit), although P1 and P2 might have been easily run together . Definitely a great fun climb!
By Alex Washburne
Nov 25, 2011
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

This can be done in a single pitch with 60m double ropes. Followed by a single rap off the top with said doubles, this is how you get 'er done at the Gunks!

Best single pitch at the Gunks? In my opinion, it's up there with double crack, doubleissima from ground to GT ledge, Directissima arete linked with high-E, CCK direct or Bonnie's direct from ground to top. As I said before... Get 'er done!!!
By Ian Dibbs
Jun 16, 2013

On a late morning I waited while the group ahead climbed in the full sun. By the time our group made it up, the sun had moved around and the exposed upper climb was now in the shade. Seems like you could pick your climbing time depending if you want the sun on you or not.
By jdejace
From: New England
Apr 4, 2014

0.5 BD cams for the hanging belay
By Mthoresz
Jun 24, 2014

I loved this so much more than High E, which I felt was over much too soon. This route was burly but juggy and everything was right there when you needed it. Impressive, sustained climbing from start to finish. I thought the P2 crux was the hardest part of the whole route, since I had trouble reaching out to the right corner. But after that, it was smooth sailing all the way to the top. Fantastic climb, and well worth its status as a Gunks classic!
By Dan Africk
From: Brooklyn, New York
Nov 9, 2014
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b

Great route! Juggy and well protected throughout, except for a very short traverse on P2. After the climb you're rewarded with a long, airy, free-hanging rappel (1 rap with 2 ropes, or two raps with a single). If you bring new climbers, make sure they're prepared for it!

You'll need long slings on almost everything on the second pitch to prevent rope drag. If you combine Pitches 2 and 3, you'll have probably have significant rope drag anyway by the end, but not too bad if you're careful. Bring a ton of trad draws if you combine the pitches, or be prepared to run it out.. I would recommend doing it in 3 pitches, or combine the first two. Semi-hanging belay for the third pitch, but it's bomber.

Anchor Beta: It may not be obvious where to build the anchor for the Pitch 3 belay: Look for the piton- just right of the piton, and about 6 feet up, is a nice horizontal crack that will accept a variety of solid gear (I used a large walnut, red and brown tricams, and a #2 camalot. Smaller cams will fit also). If you hang right below this anchor you have a small but good stance with your feet, and a few feet below you is a slightly larger ledge that your second can use to belay you up the next pitch.
By Sam Fox
From: Burlington, VT
Apr 27, 2015

Fabulous route, amazing climbing, awesome rock, but just a tad bit chossy. I definitely didn't rip anything but I did always consider where I was placing my cams. I talked to some guys at the base who said "BD 1, 2, and 3 placements" could be found all over the place, but actually I found the .5 the most useful cam. I placed two on each pitch.

Speaking of pitches I almost accidentally did it in one on a single 70m, I pulled a thinnish crack to the left of a roof about 80% of the way up and ended up belaying off the weird horizontal crack. It took a bomber .75 down low, .3 in the middle, and a good nut a little higher up. Unfortunately this did not equal an anchor at a good stance but I did manage to half hang half sit on the little ledge below. Once my follower got to me and I got my trusty .5's back the last 20% went quickly, and with two good .5 placements.

High E was 5 stars, Madam G was 4 stars, for the belay and lose blocks.
By Alex Feinberg
May 24, 2015

Easily among the best 5.6s in the Gunks, perhaps the universe. Better than High E? Disney Land? Frog's Head? Shockley's Ceiling? Decide for yourself, they are all spectacular. For me, the best one is the one I'm climbing at the moment.

The traditional start from the top of the boulders is definitely not the way to go. It's lame. Instead follow the thin seam directly below the big tree at the first belay. It does not change the grade of the route and the climbing is so good that some folks (including guides) set it up as a top rope. The other option of doing the Columbia start significantly raises the grade of the route.

Doing this route in three pitches is a silly waste of time. Link P2 and P3 for a comfy belay at the big tree, or link P1 and P2 to enjoy the adventure of the semi-hanging belay in the middle of the buttress. Link all three pitches if you're already skilled with (60m or longer) double ropes, but it's probably best not to learn that skill here. Regardless of how many pitches, make sure to bring plenty of shoulder length runners and use them wisely to avoid rope drag.

After pulling the crux bulge/ceiling on P3, the traditional route moves up and left to an easy arete avoiding the next roof. This deposits you on the extreme left side of the top of the buttress, with the rappel being on the extreme right side. A far better alternative is to pull straight through the next roof (a bit easier than the P3 crux) and continue diagonally up and right to an exit right next to the rappel anchors. This detour adds some really fun bonus climbing, still without raising the grade. Make sure to protect your second on the traverse.

Even if you're lucky and don't need to queue up at the start, you may still need to queue up at the rappel. A single rope is fine; just knot the ends and use the intermediate rap station. Two ropes gets you down quicker but sometimes lead to tangles on the ledges and trees on Northern Pillar. Either way, be very careful with the hordes below on the guide's wall.

Did I mention that this may be the best 5.6 in the universe?
By Arrak Bhattacharyya
From: Denver, CO
Oct 6, 2016

If you are visiting and can only do one 5.6 in the gunks, do this one :). Awesome.
By Keyan P
From: Brooklyn, NY
Sep 11, 2017

I was able to do this in a single pitch with a single 70m. The rope drag wasn't bad, but I placed minimal gear and extended with double-length slings until the left facing dihedral.

Really great route :)

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