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Northwest Corner 

YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c

Type:  Trad
Original:  YDS: 5.11a French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: FA:Layton Kor and Peter Lev, FFA: Pat Ament
Fixed Hardware: 3 Lead Bolts, 5 Lead Pins, 3 Belay Bolts [details]
Page Views: 10,742
Submitted By: Chris Dawson on Oct 3, 2001

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Belaying the third pitch of NW Corner, on the last...

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  • Description 

    This is another "classic" .11- on the north side of the Bastille.

    Start near the base of Rain on the (surprising) northwest corner of the Bastille. Climb up and left via underclings, past a few fixed pins and one tricky move to the top of the pillar and a two bolt anchor (.9).

    The next pitch climbs up the left-facing corner, through a small roof (.9+) and up the thin crack (crux). Reach up to clip a bolt and traverse right to a belay at a bolt on the arete.

    Pitch three follows the obvious corner above for 40 feet. Move up and right through loose strata to overhung moves along a chalked flake (more pins). Belay on same ledge as for Outer Space.

    Pitch four options include outer space and traversing right and up the last pitch of West Buttress.

    Overall, this is an enjoyable route. The crux pitch may feel a little hard for the grade.


    Standard rack.

    Photos of Northwest Corner Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Starting the left variation crux rope-solo.  The p...
    Starting the left variation crux rope-solo. The p...
    Rock Climbing Photo: The north and west faces of the Bastille.  5. Werk...
    BETA PHOTO: The north and west faces of the Bastille. 5. Werk...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Museum bolt at the top of P1 just before the ancho...
    BETA PHOTO: Museum bolt at the top of P1 just before the ancho...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Bomber tri-cam placement to avoid clipping the fix...
    BETA PHOTO: Bomber tri-cam placement to avoid clipping the fix...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 3, I think.
    Pitch 3, I think.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Rope-soloing just past the crux.
    Rope-soloing just past the crux.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Rolo coming up just past the crux on the 'Northwes...
    Rolo coming up just past the crux on the 'Northwes...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the crux pitch on a typical busy Bast...
    Looking down the crux pitch on a typical busy Bast...
    Rock Climbing Photo: At the semi-rest down a bit from the crux. From he...
    At the semi-rest down a bit from the crux. From he...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Chuck following the straight up variation.
    Chuck following the straight up variation.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Clipping the troublesome pin on the 3rd pitch.
    Clipping the troublesome pin on the 3rd pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Almost done with the crux section.
    Almost done with the crux section.
    Rock Climbing Photo: At the start of the crux section (2nd pitch).
    At the start of the crux section (2nd pitch).
    Rock Climbing Photo: Following the first pitch.
    Following the first pitch.

    Comments on Northwest Corner Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 30, 2017
    By steve dieckhoff
    Nov 5, 2001

    On the crux P2 there are several ways to go from the fixed pins in the thin crack: 1) up the thin crack, 2) a long reach right to a good hold and then a balancy move up to a bolt, or 3) downclimbing a body-length to traverse right then up. This last sounds convoluted but the leader will frequently downclimb to get a rest after clipping the pins (or just placing a bombproof small cam) anyway, and this traverse is better if you don't have a long wingspan.

    In any case, I launched up on this once when I wasn't climbing too well, placed the small cam (before the pins were placed by Chris Archer), traversed out to the 'mantle hold' and lobbed off. It's a surprisingly comfortable fall. much so that I went up and lobbed off again. I hope this little story serves to encourage people to go up on this classic pitch with less trepidation.
    By Tom Fyffe
    Nov 12, 2001

    This is a really good route. The crux pitch is a classic shit or get off the pot scenario, but very do-able.
    By TBD
    Jun 1, 2002

    Fun Climb. On the crux pitch, the traverse after the crux moves feels a little dicey, if you fall, you'll swing (but on a good bolt). Also, the fixed pin prior to pulling the small roof to the belay bolt is questionable at best, back it up. As with all other gear routes on the planet, small aliens are helpful. The most obvious finish to me was Outer Face, definitely worthwhile.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 13, 2002

    I climbed this route yesterday and loved it. I did however get pretty sketched out on the 3rd pitch when I pulled on a large flake in the 5.9 section and it moved. The pro at this point is a pin driven behind the same flake. I found it difficult to make the move without yarding straight out on the suspect flake. I also had a hard time clipping the pin just below this one because of the way it sits in the rock, I was standing on some loose strata trying to make this clip. I found the crux 2nd pitch to be very difficult and got spit off a few times but will return to try again since the pro is very good through this section. As Steve said, the fall is clean, I went slightly left after the last pin at the crux..
    By Anonymous Coward
    Jun 13, 2002

    That's usually done as the third pitch, and yes, be really careful on that shattered band. Have a Petzl biner handy to clip the difficult pin. Not a place to be pushing things, regardless of how one approaches the crux pitch...
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 19, 2002

    Your'e right "AC", it was the third pitch and it is no place to push things, I'd say this pitch is more serious than the crux........
    By Andrew Klein
    Jul 3, 2002

    Has anyone done this route in 2 pitches with a 60m. Me and my partner came close the other day. I lead the third, fourth and the easy chimney pitch above and right form the outer space ledge and came about 15 feet short form the top (walk-off ledge). My partner belayed right after the .9 undercling roof after the crux, because of drag, but still had about 30 feet or so of rope left. I, of course (on the crux pitch) did the easier variation to the right after the second pin which is a good option for someone following the pitch who wants to keep the climbing easier. I remember staying in the crack the whole way when I did this last year (following) and remember getting really pumped and hanging quite a bit trying to find some decent feet. Excellent route and mostly great 5.9 climbing except the crux 25-30 feet.
    By Dougald MacDonald
    Aug 1, 2002

    Now that I've (FINALLY!) led the crux without a problem, I think this is a great route. Before it was negative-five stars. If you're weak, like me, don't stint on gear for the traverse from the bolt to the belay (assuming you've taken the left variation). You can clip the second bolt at your knees with a long sling. And be sure to back up the pin at the end. The exit is not trivial!
    By Bill Wright
    Aug 29, 2002

    I climbed this route yesterday and it is indeed a great route. On the 3rd pitch, mentioned above, I have some comments. First, the loose flakes are not where the pins are driven. These flakes seemed completely solid to me. Yes, the first pin is difficult to clip and have a small biner for this (Neutrinos work here). The loose flakes below this are a bit freaky but they can be avoided. This section is steep, but short and didn't seem too serious (if the pins hold and they seemed good to me).

    The start of the crux pitch is a bit disgusting right now with pigeon shit. Thankfully this only lasts for about ten feet, but it sucks having to fist jam this crack with that shit in there.

    I followed the crux pitch and fell off it. What worked best for me was to do the long reach left from the best hold in the crack. This hold is rather low. Then the key is to reach as far as possible on the hold out to the right. Not only is it a better hold the further you reach, but it gives you room to match your right hand on it. This match is by far the crux move on the route, but it is followed with a dicy move to get your foot on this hold and a fall from here would be exciting, though supposedly safe.
    By Scott Conner
    From: Lyons, CO
    Aug 29, 2002

    Jeez Bill! You need to be careful! If one of your calf muscles popped out from three pitches up, it could seriously hurt someone down below.
    By Bryson Slothower
    Jun 1, 2003

    I did this route again yesterday and the flake I mentioned above does flex if you pull on it...
    By Evan Sloane
    From: Boulder
    Aug 11, 2004

    Instead of trending right on the last pitch into the 5.7 finish, do the Outer Face pitch (see separate route listing). This pitch keeps the grade more consistent with the rest of the route and allows you to really follow the prow from base to summit. Good fun.
    By Mark Roth
    From: Boulder
    Mar 16, 2009

    Is the loose rock removed? Is the route open now?
    By blakeherrington
    Apr 15, 2009

    P1/P2 can be linked. From atop p2, a ~65m pitch goes to the summit. I thought that the crux, if climbed straight up, then rightward (long reach to pin scar and desperate pull) felt harder than 5.11a. My partner worked right and then up (past one more pin and another new bolt) and said it felt less strenuous.
    By Kat A
    From: Bart and Lisa Ville, CO
    Jun 26, 2009

    Good to hear Steve Levin's comment on how the 3rd pitch has become more difficult to reach the fixed pin since removal of the block. Felt scary trying to lock off on one arm, heel hook, and stretch up to the pin just to find my Superfly biner wouldn't fit through the hanger, as I was hanging above sharp loose rocks... maybe there's an easier way to do it (?).
    By Mike McKinnon
    From: Golden, CO
    Jul 27, 2009

    I think I do this different than everyone else. First, the XM start is much nicer and adds another 10 pitch to the climb.

    On the crux, I climb over the tiny roof and get my left hand in the good slot between the two pins in the crack. Then I reach out with my left foot and toe in on a tiny edge (out left) and balance forward on that while moving my left hand high and right hand to a gaston in the crack above the pins. My left hand hits a high edge and I pop my feet up and move to better holds right under the bolt. Clip the bolt and move right.

    By Monty
    From: Golden, CO
    Sep 10, 2012

    While cleaning the crux pitch, my partner effortlessly pulled out the pin that "protected" the crux. Luckily, great gear abounds!
    By mtoensing
    From: Boulder
    Mar 21, 2014

    Rock climbing at its best!
    By Bob Rotert
    Apr 29, 2015

    Did this today and found the top pin that protected the straight up thin crack version and has been there for 15 plus years is missing. I always thought it looked pretty solid, but I see in a post above that it came out when someone was cleaning the pitch. I don't doubt that it has been fallen upon many times in the past, but over the years with freeze thaw, these things can loosen.

    This seemed to me, at the time, that it changes the route quite a bit from when the pin was there. I am in a climbing recovery mode and not really on my game right now, but it seemed like It adds quite a bit more commitment, since that pin used to be quite high in the crack and close to waist level when doing the crux. The crack is pretty flaring in this section, I couldn't get anything good passive pro in up high in the crack, plus it's a very strenuous place to try and place anything, which was the reason why the pin was there to begin with. Getting any good gear in high in the crack, where the pin was, would be difficult if possible at all. You can get a green Alien in just above the existing pin. Seems to me it would be good if some one replaced the pin that feel out. That would return this route to its previous, more friendly character. Or maybe it's not that bad, just not what I was expecting?

    08/17/16 update:
    Now the other pin that was there that was below the green Alien placement I mention above has broken. Part of the pin is still in the crack. I know some may not agree with me, but I am just sayin' what was once a pretty friendly and safe climb, with the pins there, has a much higher commitment and risk factor now.
    By Brett S.
    From: Colorado
    May 31, 2015

    Hey Bob, I climbed the route last summer not knowing that there was ever a pin protecting the upper part of the thin crack, and it felt pretty safe. I placed several pieces just below the crack and gunned it through the crux to the bolt. As you say, placing protection in the seam would be strenuous, and honestly, I didn't see any great options. The fall would be pretty big if you came off towards the top of the crack, but I believe it would be safe. The cams below the crack are very good placements.
    By Robert Daniel.
    From: Denver, Colorado
    Jun 11, 2016

    Just want to re-iterate the importance of having a smaller biner ready to go to clip the first pin on the 3rd pitch.
    By Kishen Mangat
    Aug 16, 2016

    Climbed this super route again today. A couple notes - I used a yellow (0.2) BD X4 on the placement at the base of the P2 crux below the bolt. It was fine, but I would have preferred a green Alien. I linked pitch 2 & 3 and had horrendous rope drag by the time I reached the Outer Sspace ledge. Probably better to break it up. Have fun!
    By climberz
    Jul 12, 2017

    I'm with Bob. Only lead this once. Whipped onto the pin. Now the pins are gone, bummer.
    Just heard a story of someone whipping, ripping the gear from the slippery flared pinscar, and falling past the belay... yikes...40 footer? thanks.
    Let's put the pins back in!
    By dameeser
    From: denver
    Jul 12, 2017

    Without the pins on the 2nd pitch, the nature of this route has certainly changed. It's heads up now. I climbed it in Feb. 2017, and I placed a green Alien, an offset blue purple Master Cam, and a green c3 all right where the pin broke, just before the crux. You have to run it out to the bolt, because the pin scars won't take any gear. Sure, if the gear rips, it's going to be a big fall, just with any gear route, but the green Alien and offset Master Cam that I placed looked good.
    By Phil Lauffen
    From: The Bubble
    Jul 12, 2017

    'looked good'

    Fantastic. What a sterling recommendation of gear placements. What will it take to convince you, Dameseer? Someone ripping the full pitch and breaking their ankles? Their neck? It's great that you, who have probably had to redpoint that pitch previously, now has the pitch wired and can do it without testing that gear. It's great but also irrelevant to the conversation.

    The bottom line is that pin was bomber when it placed. It was bomber many years later. However, it is gone now. The original character of the route is defined by bomber protection in that location. It is only a continuation of the past to continue to have bomber gear in that location. Let's put a bolt in that will last a long time.

    • This coming from a guy who has whipped on that pin after a red c3 that 'looked good' ripped.
    By dameeser
    From: denver
    Jul 12, 2017


    You should submit an application to ACE, and the community can vote on it. I'm not saying I prefer the route one way or another. I was simply stating my experience with this route as it currently stands.
    By lenore sparks
    From: Denver, Colorado
    Jul 13, 2017

    Wow, Philip, you are caustic. First of all, "Climberz" stated that he "heard" a story about someone ripping gear and thus assumed he took a 40' fall. So, we have no facts at all about this story or any story on this thread of someone getting seriously injured on this route resulting solely from a missing pin, not just poorly placed gear, lack of gear etc....

    As of Dameeser's gear recommendation, he is simply giving a suggestion on gear he used and I TESTED. I tested this gear myself, did everything I could to rip it out, and could not. Dameeser was actually in favor of putting the bolt, I was not, so that is why I tested the bujeezus out of his placements, so that I could convince him NOT to put in an application to bolt the route. We were on the route that day volunteering for ACE to TEST THE SAFETY now that the pins are gone. We posted our report on ACE's facebook page, with pictures of the placements and told the community to think about the placements, the route, and to leave suggestions.

    So, Philip, saying that someone did not test the gear was a false statement. Also saying Dameeser has it wired is false. He actually fell on this route right before the ledge of the third pitch (weaksauce, am I right?). He had been on it once previously, when the pins were intact. It is very Republican, Donald Trump-like of you to make statements and not fact check them. As you will note, Dameeser did not place a red C3, as it would not have been a great gear placement.

    Philip, Dameeser is still optimistic for a bolt, because the gear he recommended is NOT A STANDARD ELDO RACK. Like, who on Earth has an offset blue/purple Master Cam? I don't! So, I hope you have learned to not jump to dramatic conclusions based on loose hearsay stories, and instead do your f*cking homework, and seek out the facts in this world. And by the way, Philip Lauffenburger, do you even know who Dameeser is and what he does for the climbing community? Again, do your f*cking homework, and next time you 'take' like a ninny on a bolt, consider who may have put it there in the first place.
    By Phil Lauffen
    From: The Bubble
    Jul 14, 2017

    Heh. Thanks, Lenore. You just provided a lot more information that I didn't have earlier.

    By WadeM
    From: Golden, Co
    Aug 30, 2017

    I tested the gear yesterday... holds just fine :)

    Yesterday was my first day on NW Corner. I think the current gear is adequate. I whipped on a 0.1 BD x4. It was backed up by a bomber blue/green offset.

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