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Titties & Beer (aka "World's Hardest 5.8") 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 500'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Bob Rotert & Ted Anderson @1977
Page Views: 19,415
Submitted By: Bob Rotert on Dec 22, 2006

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BETA PHOTO: To climb Tits and Beer or other routes in the vici...


I am in the process of adding some routes that I have seen reported with some FA inaccuracies in the newest Selected Climbs of North Carolina guide book. "Titties and Beer" is an example of this. The Shull/Lambert guide reports Randy Mann was on the FA of this route when it was actually Ted Anderson who was on the FA. It is important to recognize Ted as the name for this route was inspired by Ted and comes from a Zappa song. Ted Anderson is a huge Zappa fan and we listened to a lot of Zappa when enroute to our "many" climbing adventures together. We were also, of course, big fans of the objects of this song...

After we did the first ascent & named it Titties & Beer this route got dubbed "the world's hardest 5.8". The story behind that is after we did the first ascent we were telling Jeep Gaskin, Grover Cable & some other friends about the new route. They asked us how hard we thought the route was. We thought about it and it seemed pretty easy compared to some of the scarefests we had done & were doing on the Glass and elsewhere and we also thought 5.10 was about the hardest we could climb back then. So off the cuff I said "Oh, it's probably about 5.8." Future ascents later confirmed that I might have had understated the rating a bit. Hence it became dubbed "The worlds hardest 5.8" Goes to show its always good to have a concensus on ratings.... The 5.8 climber might need a beer or two after climbing the sensational, voluptuous, undulations on this route.

Regardless of the original stated rating, for its grade it is a very cool route with a lot of character for a Looking Glass climb. We originally did the route by starting from the left on the upper slab and traversing to underneath the prominent crack system where we placed a bolt and belayed. We also later added a 10+ or 11- R/X direct start that we toproped at first and I led at one point. This variation climbed direct up a step slab off the ground with little or no pro to below the belay below the crack. The route has some hard moves to gain the crack and that is what I thought was the crux on the FA. Continue on up the crack and belay near the top. From there move out left a bit to find a spot where you can move thru the bulges and start trending right and then up. It has been a long time since I have done the route but follow the natural line to the top. You might consult the guide book if you want a more accurate description of where the route goes.


Right side of the Sun Wall.


Standard Looking Glass Rack

Photos of Titties & Beer (aka "World's Hardest 5.8") Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Michael makes the scary bulge move leading P3 on T...
Michael makes the scary bulge move leading P3 on T...
Rock Climbing Photo: Having Fun on T&B
Having Fun on T&B
Rock Climbing Photo: View of the first pitch from the apron below Titti...
BETA PHOTO: View of the first pitch from the apron below Titti...
Rock Climbing Photo: Tits and Beer for Dave's bachelor party...he wasn'...
Tits and Beer for Dave's bachelor party...he wasn'...

Comments on Titties & Beer (aka "World's Hardest 5.8") Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 9, 2016
By saxfiend
From: Decatur, GA
Jan 28, 2007
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

The bulge on P3 is the hardest lead move I've ever seen anyone do. Hats off to Michael for leading, and to Bob for the bold FA!
By D Parker
Jul 6, 2007

Bob - Great story re the first ascent. I added the second bolt at the beginning of pitch 2 sometime in the early 90s. Your original belay bolt was showing signs of age (e.g. rust). I had intended to return to remove the older bolt thus leaving the route with no more fixed gear than the original ascent, but I never made it back.
By Keith Leary
Jul 19, 2007

Beautiful, Clean & Exposed. One of the best climbs in the country. Wish the rap was easer, though.
By Rhett Burroughs
From: Rock Springs, WY
Jan 10, 2008

That SOB is hard. Kicked us off. A team of 4 is a horrible idea.
By Brian Williams
Feb 8, 2008

This is without a doubt one of the best routes on the Sun Wall. To avoid the somewhat tricky "Southender" rappel, head up and left to do the Mainline Express rappel. On another note, does anyone know the history behind the two bolts leading through a bulge to the right of the start? I climbed this with a friend and it goes. Just wondering if anyone had done it before.
By BruceBurgessNC Burgess
Jul 4, 2009

Climbed T&B for like the 20th time yesterday. It's still good. The mainline rappel is definitely the way to get off especially if you hike in from the Nose area. Leave you approach shoes and pack at the base of Mainline/Aerospace. Here's how to find the Mainline rappel stations. Once you're in the 4th pitch water groove, follow it for about 300 ft (either belay or 4th class). Keep your eye out for first massive tree island on the left. Traverse below the tree island to gain the left end. There is a large maple tree with rap slings (static rope) and rings. As of 07/09 the static rope was still in good shape. Rap from there down 170' to a double bolt belay. Another full 200ft rappel gets you back down to the Sunwall slab. Enjoy!
By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Aug 18, 2009

I don't think that's a Maple tree you rap off. The tree is fairly obvious, but calling it a Maple (as the guidebook does) caused us to hesitate a little bit. Pretty fun route. At the start of pitch 2, do you guys climb off the left side of the belay or right side? I climbed off the left side and it was easy, but there was no gear. It looked like there was gear on the right, but it looked less direct.

I thought the Michelin Man move was the crux, but I'm short.
By J-Wright
Nov 8, 2010

Super fun!
As of Nov 2010, the Mainline Rap seems like the best way down - 180ft from the tree island to the shiny new rap bolts, about 200ft down to the walk-off.
By S. F. Pitman
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 26, 2011

I have a question. Is this truly a grade IV, at least the way the AMGA would recognize it? Obviously more goes into the commitment than just the length/number of pitches, but 5-100' pitches seems really short for the grade.

The reason I ask isn't to troll; I'm planning a trip to this area in about six months with the intention of getting several east coast Grade IV or longer routes in (for AMGA prereqs); this route looks awesome, but I want to know if it is actually a grade four on par with Gom Jabber or The Glass Menagerie (in commitment, not difficulty). Thanks guys.
By BirminghamBen
From: Birmingham, AL
Mar 28, 2011

Not really. Whitesides, TNF of Looking Glass, maybe some of the routes on LK will yield better opportunities.
By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Mar 28, 2011

No way in hell is it grade IV, or Grade III for that matter. A competent team should take 2-3 hours.
By jeep gaskin
May 27, 2011

there is a way to weave through the bulges on pitch3 without actually going over the 'micheline man bulge'. go up and right from the belay and traverse the hang. pro is good. climbing is 5.8. you'll end up in exactly the same place. also. i prefer to access t&b from the southside, leave a rope at southender and on pitch4 head sharply for the bolts on irish gig. the advantage is that you don't have to drag a second rope. it's helpful if you're familiar with the tops of the routes between t&b and southender but if you're not the key land mark is the obvious head stone that sits in the ruby tuesday grove. the rap ledge is just below it. the bolts are on the southender side of the ledge, head height. first rapper goes down on a single and ties on the rope you left. same idea as any of the routes that end above sentry ledge on the southside. enjoy.
By Ed Williams
Nov 30, 2011

I like using the rap that Jeep mentions and think going in to do T&B via the southside trail is quicker/chiller. Never thought of leaving a rope at the base of the rappel. Good beta.
By Mr Singleton
Feb 27, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

On the second pitch instead of exiting the crack and climbing the face out left. Stay in the crack for some great off-width climbing. I don't really no why you would exit the crack. Its fun climbing all the way to the end. ( this is certainly the crux pitch )
By cshuey77 shuey
From: Asheviile,nc
Mar 12, 2012
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Great route! This whole climb eats gear. The bulge move on pitch 3 was exciting! I agree that this climb is very committing for the 5.8-5.9 climber.
By Jono Watson
Jul 2, 2013

Great route with awesome exposure on the 3rd pitch! I thought the 2nd pitch was one of the best hand cracks I've seen in NC.
The mainline rappell certainly seems easier than Southender. However, the guide books says to make the first rappell "straight down 190'" which definitely got me off course. It seems the second rappell rings are probably atleast 40' to the left of "straight down". Ended up having to leave some nuts and a .4" cam for the second rap.
By Drew Dekle
Sep 8, 2013

Climbed T&B for about the 5th or 6th time yesterday - - I actually had a hard time with the route as I haven't climbed anything remotely hard in about 4 weeks due to a knee injury - - I managed to get it done though (and was glad my partner, Kenneth had fun). It was a great airy adventure for him and probably the hardest multi-pitch climb he had done. Here are a couple of tips for those getting psyched to do this great route:

P-1) getting up to the double bolt anchor from the ledge - this is cake - plug in a couple of pieces but this is super basic 5.4/5.5 type stuff (FWIW, I suggest racking up and leaving your packs, etc. under the climb Ruby Tuesday or Irish Jig. Walk ready to climb with your shoes, water bottle, rack and 2 ropes from there along the base, shimmy up the tree and gain the ledge under Out to Lunch, etc.)

P-2) you get a black diamond .4 (3 lobes) about 10' above the bolts - you can clip it short and then go back and extend once you have gear up in the crack - just fire through the early moves and don't get too pumped - - this is probably the crux of the climb and I'd say it does feel 5.10a - - the crack is super fun and backs off in hardness as you go up - about 50' up trend left onto the face and then up another 40' or so of easier slabby face climbing to get to the belay spot - save some medium wired stoppers and a couple of cams for the belay - a #2 Camalot fits nicely

P-3) you can go right or left but most go (climber's) left. you can protect right below "the move" - this move probably is 5.9 but it does feel hard - through up a high foot and get the second hand above - it's all there. Make sure to put a .5 camalot right above the move for your second so if they fall they don't cheese grater the rope across the rock - this is important. The move is a side-pull and a high step - just do it -it's fun - trend up and right to a great belay spot - takes medium size cams, or a slotted stopper - this is a short pitch.

p-4) keep going out to your right to gain the obvious water groove about 40' right of the belay - it's a one step move into the groove (5.7?) and then things get easy. Go up the groove for about 40' and then go right to another good belay spot - - all the hard climbing is now over.

p-5) this isn't really a "pitch" but it avoids Southender Gully which is a PITA. - traverse right about a full rope length - don't go up too much - aim for what looks like a totally loose bolder sitting on a ledge (it might be - don't mess with it) go under it to a giant ledge and find two shiny stainless rap anchors (these are roughly on top of Irish Jig and Ruby Tuesday) - - one rappel (2 ropes) gets you on the ground with plenty to spare (if you followed my P-1 advice, you are right at your pack stash and can hit the trail from here). If you can't find the aformentioned bolts you can go up and right and eventually hit trees - this is Southender Gully - - a bungle in the jungle for sure but you'll make it down. Check out Jeep's technique for using only one-rope on the route too (see above) - this is a very good trick but it absolutely assumes that you will finish the route.
By michael s...
From: Denver, CO
Nov 24, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Climbed it last Wednesday. Beautiful sunny day. Approached from the south side. Started from the bottom of the apron off to the left by a tree. Super fun awesomeness. Couldn't find any damn rap anchors though. We might have gone too high on the last pitch. Found 2 tricams and a nut with a sling over by Southender Gully that got us to the ground (barely) with a single 2-rope rap on two 70m.
By Kyle Kimball
From: Asheville, NC
Dec 20, 2013
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Climbed it today- great climb, and probably one of the most difficult and long climbs I've ever done. The bulge move wasn't too bad, you just had to be able to do a pull up on bad holds- the second pitch was a fair bit harder, but thankfully well protected. We decided to do the mainline rappel, which was a bad idea. The traverse to get over to the trees was quite sketchy- very, very runout with moss and loose rocks on a lot of it, and I didn't realize the tree was all the way on the left, so I almost decided to traverse all the way back. Got our rope stuck on a flake on the second rappel, which was great, and so I'll have to back tomorrow to get it.
By BoulderCharles
Dec 29, 2013

As the comments suggests, the difficulty of this route is subjective. This was my second time at Looking Glass and I felt the route was fun and not strenuous relative to other multipitch climbs. If you are comfortable leading trad at the 5.9 level and have a general feeling for the area then you will be fine.

The bulge is fun and protected by bomber gear at your waist. I can see how this could be be intimidating if you are pushing the grade at Looking Glass but it isn't too bad IMHO.
By Escotti Milhizer
From: Princeton, NC
Sep 12, 2014

This is an amazing route that is probably the most protectable route at Looking Glass. The crux is super protectable and pretty spicy for 5.8...but really fun. The decent can be a little tricky though.
By Chuck Parks
From: Atlanta, GA
Nov 10, 2014

If you're looking to get down via the Mainline rappel, be advised that the maple tree (or whatever it was) is no more. Apparently it was deader than it looked, and during a storm the whole thing broke apart. We arrived at the rap station in the dark to find chunks of tree everywhere, with the trunk broken off just above where the anchor was tied.

We relocated the tat to a cedar tree about 20 feet downslope of the old tree. The cedar is between calf and thigh thickness, and seemed healthy and solid. It held us. The anchor was thrown together in haste, and in the dark. So it could probably stand to be inspected and/or improved.
By Andrew Hancox
From: Greenville
Mar 9, 2016
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Bring lots of long runners on this one. We encountered bad rope drag on each pitch. The Selected Climbs topo was a little misleading I thought. The crack on pitch two is more like a flared hand crack than a true off-width. We stayed in the crack instead of the face and really enjoyed the moves. Stay more or less directly above the crack section, maybe a hair left, for the third bulge pitch anchor.

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