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Omer's Route 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c R

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 300'
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c R [details]
FA: Cole, Slate & Allen in the 80's
Season: dry
Page Views: 693
Submitted By: Brian in SLC on Aug 31, 2009

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (3)
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Top of second pitch of Omer's

Portal Road Closure MORE INFO >>>


Great shallow crack and chickenhead climbing.

Pitch 1: climb up cracks traversing to easier knobs if desired. Climb up far enough (passing above large shrub to the right) but still below the lower angle face full of knobs to the right (far side of the left facing corner/crack). Build a gear belay.

Pitch 2: climb up and over to crack, place pro, then step over the corner to the right onto the face loaded with big chickenheads. Sling knobs, and, dance on up. Can traverse to the right and back left on a line of knobs to keep the grade a bit lower. In 60 or more feet, clip a bolt. Climb up and trend left to the shallow and steeper ridge crest and pass the steeper section by slinging another knob. Step up, look up and to the right above a low angle crescent cut out, and clip the last bolt. Milk lower angle friction weaknesses to the top of the slab. Find anchor towards the steeper wall just above the rappel back into the gully behind the wall (sling in pinch).

Descent: single rope rappel back into the gully. Follow gully down, take a left and either do a kinda sketchy downclimb on the climber's right of the gully, or, rappel from one of the large pine trees to gain the base of the route.

Note: we didn't notice the "tunnel" mentioned in the guidebook and other route descriptions. Wondering if recent rockfall has buried it...?


Left side of the El Gaucho formation. Climb up to the more obvious "Puppy Woof" (either 3rd class behind to the left or climb PW) and start on the right side of the tree and rubbly narrow gully. Can also be started by going up the open left facing corner of Gay Caballero and traversing in on the horizontal crack only 20 or so feet from the start of that route.


Standard rack (set of stoppers and cams to 3 camalot or equivalent). 2 lead bolts on the second pitch. Take slings for knobs. No fixed anchor on route. Anchor at top is behind large flake (think, "where would I put a rappel anchor?") and is slings on a pinch (not able to see the slings from the top of the slab: walk around to behind the flake above the most reasonable place for a rappel).

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Rock Climbing Photo: Coming up first pitch of Omer's
Coming up first pitch of Omer's

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By Todd Townsend
From: Bishop, CA
May 6, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Not sure I would call this 5.8R. The runout section is 5.6-5.7 (at most) and the climbing is on big, positive knobs. The 5.8 crux, if there is one, is a couple of friction moves that are well protected as they're directly above the 2nd bolt.

Heady for sure, and I wouldn't put a 5.8 leader on this one, but not out of character for the Portal. Route finding is a little confusing on the 2nd pitch, but if you just keep following the trail of the biggest knobs, they'll bring you right to the first bolt. From there, you can see the 2nd bolt.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
May 6, 2011

If there is 'R' rated climbing anywhere near the grade of the route, it is more than reasonable to call it 'R' IMHO. I would think of it this way. If I was doing an 11a crack route and there was 35 feet of unprotected 10b, I would not only want to know about it from the route description, but I would call the route 'R'. Not sure why 5.8 with 5.6 R climbing should be any different.
By Todd Townsend
From: Bishop, CA
May 7, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

You might want to add an "R" to all of the face climbs at the Portal then. To be fair, your example is a little different. If there were 35ft of unprotected 5.9 on your 11a route, would you still consider it "R" rated? I guess where I grew up in the Northeast, you were expected to be able to run it out on terrain below the crux level on trad routes. A good example is Sliding Board at Whitehorse Ledge - 5.7. The third pitch is a full 50m of 5.5 friction with exactly one bolt halfway up for the only pro.

Of historical note: In the original Bartlett guide, Omer's Route is shown with no bolts at all on the second pitch. It appears that this pitch has been retro bolted in it's current state. The upper half of the pitch is designated, "No Pro." The grade - 5.8. (No "R")
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
May 7, 2011

Well Todd, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. However, I see things quite differently.

First off, while I have not climbed a ton of stuff at the Portal, all of the face climbs that I have done were pretty reasonably protected, so I don't think it is at all accurate to say that 'all' of the face climbs at the Portal would need an 'R' rating according to my grading metric.

Furthermore, I believe the purpose of a grade is to communicate information. Giving a climb an 'R' grade or not simply because it keeps historical norms alive is not a good reason to continue implementing a particular system of grading. The purpose of grading a route 'R' is to communicate that there is a section of climbing on a route that if the leader were to fall on, they are gonna get hurt. So, to answer your question, yes, I think that an 11a climb with 35 feet of unprotected 5.9 should get an 'R'. I guess I would rather see someone enter a route with more information and/or be conservative with their grade than to send some poor soul up on a 5.8 only to have to unexpectedly run it out on 5.7....its no skin off my back or ego to give the route an 'R' and it may just prevent someone from getting hurt badly. To each his own though I guess.
By Todd Townsend
From: Bishop, CA
May 7, 2011
rating: 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

Fair enough, I don't want to see anyone get hurt either.

I do think it's important that people realize that the Portal face climbs are generally not great routes to push your technical abilities on. Much like JTree and Tuolumne, the GU hand-drilled tradition has created many fully bolted routes that are most definitely not sport climbs. I believe that for the most part, the current guidebook uses how well the crux moves are protected to determine whether a route gets an "R" rating or not. (If you look at routes at the Chicken Ranch or El Gaucho there are many that average 15-20ft between bolts without "R" ratings.(There's even one with only 7 bolts in 180ft of climbing!))
By Darrell Hensel
May 11, 2011

Omer's was retro-bolted at some point, not sure exacty when or who.

Given that Gary Slate was one of the FA party it isn't surprising that originally it didn't receive an R rating, even back when it had no bolts on the upper part of the pitch. Slate was stingy with R ratings even though most of his easier routes had runouts.

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