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McCarthy West Face (Variant) 

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

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 300'
Original:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: ?
Page Views: 7,827
Submitted By: Joe Collins on Sep 28, 2002

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The crux of McCarthy West Face. The Beautiful ste...

June Voluntary Climbing Closure and Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>


A super-fun route on the west face. This is apparently a good way to summit on the west face, but most parties do not climb beyond the 2nd pitch. The description here only includes the 1st 2 pitches. The 1st pitch is very popular.

This climb can be identified by the prominent roof on the first pitch. The 2nd pitch is directly left of the column forming the left wall of El Matador's stem box.

P1- beginning just to the left of the start of El Matador, scramble easily up to a flake below the obvious roof. The right-hand variation around the roof is the HONG VARIATION (11b) while the left hand variation is 5.9+. Climb the thin hand crack on the left over the bulge (crux). Continue upward past some fun stemming to a bolted belay.

P2- From the belay, the crack heading directly upward to the top of the El matador column is 11c. The W Face Variant takes the crack on the left over a large roof to the steep, endless hand crack above.Climb up the left hand crack and pull the very-difficult roof (crux)... a stem-rest comes right afterward. The roof is protected by a bolt though excellent gear can be placed in the crack. Now that the crux is over, continue more easily, though relentlessly, up the hand crack. This is a long and very-sustained hand-crack... stemming helps.

Continue upwards to the summit (my guess is this isn't done too often) or 2 double rope raps to the ground


Lots of nuts... double set of cams up to #3.5 friend. A #4 friend can be placed at the top of pitch 2. Extra hand sized gear for pitch 2, though I felt solid backcleaning gear and 2 sets seemed sufficient.

Photos of McCarthy West Face (Variant) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Lew is following the sustained P2 of MWF...
Lew is following the sustained P2 of MWF...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jon, just past the crux
Jon, just past the crux
Rock Climbing Photo: Grateful for the end of pitch 2 ....
Grateful for the end of pitch 2 ....
Rock Climbing Photo: High Art
High Art
Rock Climbing Photo: Josh Knapp cleaning up pitch one of this classic.
Josh Knapp cleaning up pitch one of this classic.
Rock Climbing Photo: BETA
Rock Climbing Photo: A real crotch ripper
A real crotch ripper
Rock Climbing Photo: Belay stances for McCarthy West Face Free var
BETA PHOTO: Belay stances for McCarthy West Face Free var
Rock Climbing Photo: Doug Hemken below the roof.
Doug Hemken below the roof.
Rock Climbing Photo: Just after the crux roof
Just after the crux roof

Comments on McCarthy West Face (Variant) Add Comment
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By John Gunnels
From: Gillette, WY
Apr 8, 2006

THIS route gets it DONE...
By nolteboy
From: Fort Collins, CO
Aug 24, 2006

A very fine route. Don't hang out at the roof- just place gear and go for it. Trust me - pulling the roof isn't nearly as bad as hanging out underneath wasting energy! I was trying to be mr. trad and didn't clip the bolt at the roof, but my second got super frustrated on acount of the rope getting sucked into the roof crack, thereby foiling his efforts to pull thru... so it might not be a bad idea for the leader to clip that bolt with a short draw just to help out the second.
By jleining
From: CO
Jun 6, 2007

Climbed this route at the end of may, and it is AWESOME! One of the best routes I have ever done! My partner Matt and I did all 5 pitches to the summit well worth it! The first 4 pitches are amazing. Lose rock only found on the last pitch, but trip to the summit was well worth it. Also FOUND MEMORY CARD on the big ledge at the end of third pitch, if want returned let me know.
By dindolino32
Aug 20, 2010

Did it with my Bro! fun route, but I didnt have much gear. The second pitch was where it's at. Endurance was key, especially cause I had to have my bro lower me and back clean about 4 times. I only had 5 cams and some large hexes. The roof was actually very easy for me. I didn't struggle at all. Good route, bring enough water! We summited and the rest was fine. #4 camalot will protect 5.8 OW/chimney near the top.
By slim
Sep 23, 2011
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

really good route. first pitch has a tricky sort of feel to it. second pitch didn't feel much easier than el mat. when i first peeked over the roof i had that 'this doesn't look like 5.10' moment. but, luckily it all just sort of comes together. the rest of it is just grinding it out.
By Kent Richards
Aug 17, 2015

Top of the 2nd is wide. I found hands and fists -- except one or so arm bar, but my partner found it to be offwidth.

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