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g. V3 - Middle Earth
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Middle Earth 

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

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 250'
Original:  YDS: 5.6 French: 4c Ewbanks: 14 UIAA: V ZA: 12 British: S 4b [details]
FA: Joe Kelsey and Roman Laba, 1967
Page Views: 10,769
Submitted By: Denis O'Connor on Apr 12, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (207)
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Nearing the top of P1 on a beautiful day in July.


ROCKFALL WARNING: DO NOT LOITER AT THE BASE OF MIDDLE EARTH. As of summer 2016, conditions at the GT ledge have changed for the worse. The rock below the GT was a 30'x10' plaque of loose blocks. These are now looser and should be avoided. These loose blocks make for substantial rockfall danger at the base of the cliff. See Mike Rawdon's comment below. There is no anchor (no trees, no place for gear) at the GT, aside from a dead, levered-out tree. If you MUST climb above the first pitch, plan on going to the top very, very carefully and rappelling with two ropes back to the first pitch, skipping the GT ledge. -- JSH, 9/2016

A deservedly popular climb with good first and third pitches.

P1: Climb broken cracks for about 100', aiming for a nice ledge about 15' left of a large pine tree. The route wanders left and right at various places, so keep looking around. At a big ledge, rappel from a bolted station (almost exactly 30m). 5.6, 100'.

P2: Climb easy ground 60' up and slightly left, to the GT Ledge.

P3: Reposition the belay ~ 20 feet to the right. Climb up and left into a right-facing corner (crux). Clear it, then aim up and left towards a pretty white face and finish up that to the cliff top.

Rappel from rings on trees and/or bolted stations, a bit left of the climbing line. Walking a bit north to the Arrow rappel line is also an option.


From Absurdland, go downhill to the right, and about another 30' right once the trail flattens out.


Standard rack. Rap stations at top of all 3 pitches.

Photos of Middle Earth Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Moving up P3 crux on Middle Earth.
BETA PHOTO: Moving up P3 crux on Middle Earth.
Rock Climbing Photo: Tricia Fusco nearing the top of the first pitch.
Tricia Fusco nearing the top of the first pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: Halfway up P1.
Halfway up P1.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber on Middle Earth from Grand Traverse Ledge ...
Climber on Middle Earth from Grand Traverse Ledge ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of P1
BETA PHOTO: Start of P1
Rock Climbing Photo: Stepping left.
Stepping left.
Rock Climbing Photo: About 1/3 of the way up the first pitch, nearing t...
About 1/3 of the way up the first pitch, nearing t...
Rock Climbing Photo: Here is a nice little shot from the top of the sec...
Here is a nice little shot from the top of the sec...
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climber on P3 of Middle Earth
Unknown climber on P3 of Middle Earth
Rock Climbing Photo: Stitchin' it up on P1 of Middle Earth.
Stitchin' it up on P1 of Middle Earth.
Rock Climbing Photo: Tj getting intense on the first couple moves on Mi...
Tj getting intense on the first couple moves on Mi...

Comments on Middle Earth Add Comment
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By Tim Schafstall
Apr 2, 2008

The first pitch of this climb is superb and takes good gear. Good pitch for the new 5.5 leader.

P2 is easy 5th class, but still fun.

P3 is tricky, with a vague book description, potential ledge falls, and a harder than rated crux. I would not put a new 5.5ish leader on the last pitch.

A 60M rope is needed to rap from the large tree atop P1 or to TR this pitch.
Aug 4, 2009
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

P3 was rated 5.7 up until the Grey Dick came out; and even at 5.7, it wasn't a gimme. That re-grading is the one I most strongly disagree with.

It's not easy to get *good* pro at the crux, because of the direction of rope pull, and the pumpy stance; and you're looking at hitting the ledge if you fall on bad pro. So I agree with Tim - I would not, not, not put a 5.5 leader on this pitch.

Repositioning the belay at the GT ledge, to just below the pitch, is a good idea.
By doligo
Jun 14, 2010
rating: 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13

Finally got to lead the pitch 3. What a great climb! I agree, the roof is a bit stiff for a 5.5, especially for a shortie like me. The roof protects well, you can even stick a purple C4 in the crack just right under the roof. The reason I gave it PG13 is that once you pass the roof, the pro is very sparse, the climbing is pretty easy though.
By kenr
Jun 15, 2012

P1 I found to be well-protected since I had a little Mastercam #0 to stick in a flary vertical crack as my second piece off the ground.
Above that my "normal" rack worked fine, no need for anything larger than a #2 Camalot.

P1 was pretty sustained with thoughtful face/slab moves near the rating grade. Perhaps not a good choice as an early Lead for someone making the transition from indoor climbing, because some of the protection stances required standing on slopy or small footholds - (though could be a good learning pitch for Followers making the transition from indoors).
By Simon Thompson
From: New Paltz, NY
Apr 27, 2013

If you do the crux on p3 the absolute easiest way I'd still say it's hard 5.6. First pitch is phenomenal... probably the best/most sustained pitch of 5.5/5.6 in the Gunks with some great crack climbing to boot!
By Logan Schiff
From: Brooklyn, NY
Apr 28, 2013

I approached the P3 overhang from the left side by the Bombs Away P3 start this time. Felt easier, 5.5 or so, and was a bit easier to place pro higher up while holding huge jugs, though still not the most comfortable stance.
By Optimistic
From: New Paltz
May 22, 2014

P3 is really quite cool. I have to say that I think 5.6 is pretty fair, but I did notice (BETA ALERT) that it was a little tricky to get good gear where you wanted it, because the good gear is actually right in the middle of the crux. I chose to pull on through and then was like, "hmm, now I'm kind of looking at a ledge fall, not quite what I'd had in mind," and so placed a piece blind at my feet. Amazingly, my second told me that the piece was pretty good, but still, if this is an uncomfortable grade for you, the right way to do it would be to pull into the crux, set one or many totally truck pieces, downclimb and shake out if needed, and go.
By SethG
Apr 7, 2015

If you take Middle Earth to the top you are really better off walking for one minute over to the Arrow bolts for the descent. It is less disruptive to climbers below and you don't have to navigate ever-changing tat anchors.
By john2.71
From: Montclair, NJ
May 12, 2015

Having led both variations of P3, I can attest that the right side is noticeably harder than the left.
By Gunkiemike
Dec 15, 2015

We climbed this today, first time since the bolts went in. I was astounded to see the GT Ledge bolts are so far left of the usual line of the pitch. I know they were placed there to keep rapping climbers away from ascending climbers. But the problem is that leaders on P2 are going to angle leftwards to get to the bolts (and belay there). The problem is that this runs their rope across a pair of insecure 50+ lb blocks. One of these blocks in particular is sticking out and will surely snag the rope. While a second falling on that pitch is unlikely given how easy it is, I'm afraid that the first time a rope goes tight across that block, it's a bomb.

Update - March 29, 2016 - there are several rather large (~ 2 ft) rocks embedded in the dirt at the base of the route. I wonder if someone trundled the dangerous blocks I refer to above. Hopefully it was done on purpose, safely. I will have to go up there and see if in fact they're gone (they were still there on March 17th).

May 2016 - The blocks I mention above, as well as a few other large (2-3 ft) blocks, have indeed come down from immediately below the (new) bolts on the GT ledge that serve Middle Earth and the other climbs in that vicinity. Hopefully they were dropped purposefully/safely. But the thing is - there's now a messy dirt slope where the blocks used to be, and climbing through this is super insecure. It will wash off eventually, but as it does there are sure to be several smaller bits of rock that find their way downward. 3 golf ball size rocks came down while we were on Bombs Away today. YMMV but I'd suggest avoiding all these climbs on busy days for the next several months. If you want to see one of the blocks, look just R of the base of Bombs Away. I'd guess 300-400 pounds.

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