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e. The Mac Wall (Something Interesting)
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Birdie Party T 
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Land's End (Direct) T 
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Men At Arms T 
Mother's Day Party T 
Overhanging Layback T 
Redirectional Idealism T 
Scene of the Climb T 
Something Boring T 
Something Interesting T 
Star Action T 
Still Crazy After All These Years T 
Tequila Mockingbird T 
Three Pines T 
Tough Existence T 
Tough Shift T 
Try Again T 
Welcome to the Gunks T 


YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 180'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Jim McCarthy, Roman Sadowy, Claude Suhl, 1960
Page Views: 17,199
Submitted By: Guy H. on Feb 21, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (251)
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Clipping the pin beneath the crux.


This is THE standard for 5.9 routes at the Gunks. It is a must do for a visiting climber. The route is located to the right of Three Pines on the right side of the Mac Wall.

The MF access trail is about a 6-min. walk from the Uberfall, or a 2-min. walk from where the East Trapps Connector Trail meets the carriage road. The trail leads to the base of the climb at a 20'-high thin crack. This is about 80' right of Something Interesting.

P1: Climb the crack and face below the overhang, making a slight jog to the left. Place gear in the horizontal to the right (or clip the piton) and pull right through the overhang onto the small ledge. You'll need to make a few moves before you get your next gear. The final moves up and left through the headwall will test your endurance. A stimulating lead; 5.9, 80'.

Variation: Instead of moving right after clipping the piton, head straight up the overhang and climb the crack above to the anchor. 5.10a, R.

P2: Traverse right though a left-facing corner and through the notch in the roof. Continue upwards to a horizontal traverse to the left. Follow the right-facing dihedral to the GT Ledge. 5.9, 80'.

There is a bolted anchor atop P1. From P2, it is difficult to reach the P1 bolts due to the overhang; climb easier rock to the cliff top, then rappel the bolted line 50' to climber's left, or descend with two ropes to the ground.


Gear to 3".

Photos of MF Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: On to the second crux.
On to the second crux.
Rock Climbing Photo: Scott doing the direct variation on P1.
Scott doing the direct variation on P1.
Rock Climbing Photo: Post-crux.  What do you mean the pin's gone?
Post-crux. What do you mean the pin's gone?
Rock Climbing Photo: Tiffany starting p2
Tiffany starting p2
Rock Climbing Photo: Tiff on p2
Tiff on p2
Rock Climbing Photo: John linking MF
John linking MF
Rock Climbing Photo: Adam above the pitch 1 crux of MF (5.9)
Adam above the pitch 1 crux of MF (5.9)
Rock Climbing Photo: Dave S. climbing MF
Dave S. climbing MF
Rock Climbing Photo: MF Direct. (going straight up after the crux inste...
MF Direct. (going straight up after the crux inste...
Rock Climbing Photo: The second roof crux of MF, which is part of the s...
The second roof crux of MF, which is part of the s...
Rock Climbing Photo: Becky Diamond underneath the MF crux
Becky Diamond underneath the MF crux
Rock Climbing Photo: The crux roof on P1...
The crux roof on P1...

Comments on MF Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated May 30, 2017
By GoBotRocker
From: Spfld, Ma
Jul 4, 2006

MF is a blast, althought a scary blast. The 1st pitch wasn't over till I got to the anchor. The 2nd pitch roof is easy and has good pro. Not a good choice for your 1st 5.9. Also a great candidate for twins or doubles. That all said, it's a climb like Shockley's or Bonnies (with the Direct variation) that should be climbed every year until they confine me to a wheel chair.
By Tristan Perry
May 11, 2007

This is an absolutely great climb! The first pitch is both pumpy and scary. Gear is not obvious above that roof, and it's all too tempting to keep making stenuous moves as the gap between body and gear grows! The second pitch is devious but easier in my opinion, and just as cool as it wanders up the beautiful face above. These two pitches, served with Dangler, make for three exemplary pitches of 5.9 climbing.
By JoeLeiper
Feb 19, 2008

Essential route. Personally, of the three hard sections I found the first overhanging corner the easiest. It looks intimidating from stance after clipping pin, but it's just a matter of committing and grabbing the big hold on the nose. (Rope was behind my left leg and pinned me halfway through the sequence of swinging onto the face.) The bulge after that is quite strenuous and requires more moves. Most folks probably consider the roof beginning the second pitch as an afterthought. I did, and had to really pump to make it. Wonderful climb.
By eric larson
From: aurora, co
Apr 22, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

as the DW guide says, this is the standard 5.9 in the gunks. unfortunately it gets the top rope train run on it so it can be a pain to get on... but the beauty of the gunks is that if one three star climb is taken there is a pick of a million others!
By Dana Bartlett
From: CT
May 12, 2008

In 1976 I had done a lot of 'Gunks 5.8s, and I asked around for an easy 5.9. Everyone recommended MF, and my climbing log from back then reads: "No falls, seemed fairly easy for 5.9." I did it 2-3 years ago, and it seemed pretty stiff for the grade. Time marches on.
By slim
Jun 8, 2009
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

great route for the grade. i have only climbed at the gunks a few times, so i am not necessarily dialed-in, but i thought it was harder than p-38, doubleissima, low exposure, nosedive, or probably any other 5.10 i have done at the gunks.

the first crux seemed way improbable, but luckily you can always back down to a good rest, and go up and check it out again.

i thought the second crux was similar but more difficult than the doubleissima crux. luckily you can climb up and down to a good stance and slowly work it out.

props to macarthy, proud indeed!
By Goodhue
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 14, 2009

Did the direct version by accident. Whoops. Otherwise it was awesome and I definitely recommend it. DW calls it 5.10a PG-R. Pull solid moves up and left from the roof, after clipping the fixed pin. But you don't get gear in for a little while. I think a fall would be big but still safe.
By George Perkins
From: The Dungeon, NM
May 19, 2010

If you do the 2nd pitch, a 2 rope rappel makes for the easiest descent. (There is a somewhat scary intermediate anchor on Birdie Party that might allow for 2 raps with a single rope, or with more effort than its worth you can get to the MF p1 anchor.)

2nd pitch is worth climbing too.
By David Stowe
May 30, 2012

MF Direct is definitely a fun and worthwhile climb and easily setup on TR after doing the regular route if you're not up to leading it, as it is a bit run out and pumpy to place gear. That said, definitely not 10+ or 11-, maybe 10b at most. Nowhere near as hard as Coex or Graveyard.
By Simon Thompson
From: New Paltz, NY
Nov 12, 2012
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Amazing climb. Accidentally climbed the direct variation. I'd probably call it 10a or 10- with some PG-13. It's impressive that the crux flake on P2 remains intact. I really yarded on it...
By Catherine Rioux
From: Toronto, ON
Jun 2, 2015

I did the direct variation on the first pitch by accident and was told by some local that it is 10a R. I agree with the 10a grading.
I think the variation should be included in the description. :) Definitely! Done. --JSH
By Kurtz
Jun 15, 2016

So what does MF stand for?
By mnjsan
Jul 21, 2016

^ ^ ^
I've heard McCarthy’s Follies but for those that have climbed it Mother F***er certainly seems appropriate. No matter the meaning as others have already stated it is a fantastic climb.
By Chris Hanke
Jan 30, 2017

There was a recent question about what "MF" stands for. My recollection from many days of climbing in the Gunks in 1984-1985 was that it stands for "My Finest". I think this even was stated in the original "Red" Gunks Guidebook, but I lost that years ago (bummer ...).

MF was my first 5.9 lead. My climbing partner even failed to give me enough slack on my first pull up over the 1st pitch overhang, but I got it on the second try/pull, no falls. Great memories !!! Main protection was a TriCam for me, as a grad student I couldn't afford any Friends back then.
By Fan Zhang
From: Washington, DC
May 30, 2017
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Not having fully appreciated George Perkins' comment above from May 19, 2010, we foolishly tried to rappel from the top of pitch 2 to the pitch 1 anchor with a single 60m rope but quickly realized it would be too difficult to reach the P1 anchor because of the roof. So we topped out instead, finishing with some easy fun climbing.

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