REI Community
Tallac Headwall
Select Route:
Quickly Without Asking (Tallac Headwall Direct) T 

Quickly Without Asking (Tallac Headwall Direct) 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b R

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 600', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b R [details]
FA: Michael Cohen and Nathan Frankel July 22, 2017
New Route: Yes
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Page Views: 136
Submitted By: Nathan Frankel on Jul 30, 2017

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (1)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]
BETA PHOTO: The route starts left of the massive ledge and tra...


The idea for this route started as a joke and neither of us ever thought we would do it. As far as we knew, nobody had ever climbed the Tallac Headwall and who better to do it than some boulderers with very limited multi-pitch experience. The joke continued and after about a month we realized that we had talked about it so much we might as well do it. I mean what’s the worst that could happen? We planned one recon trip where we were going to hike to the base of the wall to scout the line that we wanted to take, but ended up getting distracted by some steep snow climbing and not doing much recon at all. So, with very little preparation and way too much gear, early one July morning we set out from the Tallac Trailhead in hopes of putting up our first ever multi-pitch first ascent.

We realized we were in over our heads even before we reached the wall. The approach was brutal, with about 2500 feet of elevation gain and 3 miles of bush-whacking, not to mention the obscenely heavy rack we carried filled with old school T-Nuts and Hexes. By the time we even made it to the wall the sun was already in full force, heating the rock to temperatures uncomfortable to climb. The first pitch gave us hope for the route with easy climbing, relatively solid rock, and good protection. This was just what we were hoping for. Neither of us had ever hauled before, so slowly but surely we figured out our systems but not before catching the haul bag too many times to count and putting a hole in one of our Camelbacks. Pitch 2 and 3 pushed us to our limit, both physically and mentally; however, we both made it through unscathed. While following pitch 4, I pulled off a toaster sized rock onto my arm and leg. Luckily I left the encounter with no serious injuries and a much better concept of my mortality. At the top of pitch 4, our spirits we heightened again as we realized we were within a pitch or two of the summit. Once done with the class 3 scramble, we knew we had it in the bag. As I topped out I gave my best cave man scream, bloody and tired as tourists from the summit looked down at me with what can only be described and bewilderment.

Feeling accomplished, I set up the belay, but this wall was not done with us yet. As I was hauling, the bag sent a softball sized rock whizzing down the wall and straight into Michael’s shoulder, rendering the extremity temporarily useless. However, Michael, being the perseverant climber that he is, pushed through the pain and finished out the climb basically one handed. We reached the summit tired but feeling accomplished, where we had a feast of Shot Blocks, Sour Patch Kids, and half a fifth of bourbon. Soon we drunkenly started our 4.5-mile descent back to the car. We returned to the Camp Shelly trailhead after a 16-hour day, having seen both the sunrise and sunset from the ridge above Fallen Leaf Lake, bloody, tired, and bruised but knowing that we had pulled of one of the dumbest and most challenging feats of our lives. However, we would never forget the memory and feeling of accomplishment from that day.

The pitches are as follows:

Pitch 1: 5.7, 115 ft: The start of this pitch may change based on the level of the snow. From where we started, traverse out right from the ledge and make your way up through low angle blocks with decent pro. After about 30 ft the rock gets a bit steeper but remains well featured. We ended up at a large belay ledge about 40 ft right of where the pitch started directly under a mildly overhanging roof. The climbing appeared quite difficult above, so we opted for a short 30 ft traverse pitch to a ledge directly below a long dihedral system. What we did can easily be avoided by traversing less during the pitch and ending up at the base of the dihedral. The belay ledge there is smaller but still substantial.
Pitch 2: 5.10, 80 ft Start up the obvious dihedral on big holds. Pull left around the large boulder, and then pull a tricky beached whale move onto a good ledge. Now the hard part starts. Move off the ledge using mediocre sidepulls, high-step and reach up to a jug. Pull a few more hard moves to gain a small ledge under a roof. If you want a better belay ledge you can do the beginning part of pitch 3, but watch the rope drag.
Pitch 3: 5.10, 120 ft: Starting from the small ledge at the top of pitch two, traverse right out of the dihedral to avoid the roof death block and pull back around to put you at a good stance for the the crux of the pitch. Up ahead you will see a section where the dihedral steepens and bushes cover most of the good holds. Place a few good pieces here and make peace with your maker because that is the last good pro for a while and the crux is coming up. A few easy moves will take you to the base of the bushes and from here use whatever trickery you can to get yourself into the squeeze chimney at the top of the bushes. Rest here and contemplate your existence and why you decided to climb this route as you look at the steep moves ahead. Throw a sketchy #1 Cam in the crack on your right, pull out of the chimney using a sidepull that is a bit too slopey high step on some feet that are a bit too small. Now you can breathe easy knowing that most of the hard climbing is over. Pull onto a large ledge, and if rope drag isn’t too bad I would recommend traversing the ledge to an easy hand crack, climbing another 20 ft and making the belay there.  
Pitch 4: 5.6, 90 ft Start up the dihedral past some scary looking death blocks that you probably shouldn’t touch. Continue up until you see a nice hand crack moving up and to the right. Pull easy moves through here but be very careful because a lot of the rock is loose and you are right above your belayer. Soon you will come across a dead looking tree and a huge ledge under a spire. Make the belay here, but you will need to un-rope and scramble to get to the next pitch. To get to pitch 5, Walk along the ledge for a bit and then take the class 4 scramble on your right over the ridgeline. Then it is an easy walk to the cliff band bellow the summit. Traverse directly below the spire and north of the summit. Pitch five is located directly uphill from the spire.
Pitch 5: 5.5, 100 ft: The crux of this pitch is the first few moves. High step onto the slab and then pull around a large block feature. From here it is easy climbing with amazing pro. About 40 ft up you will encounter a large sloping dirt ledge. Continue past this up right where the wall looks lower angle. Pull over the lip and you can see the summit up ahead. Feel like a hero as all the tourists look at you with amazement and wonder. Build you anchor and from here it is an easy scramble to the summit.


When looking at the headwall, you will see a large ledge about 40 ft left of the nose of the wall. The route starts on a smaller ledge about 20 ft left of the larger ledge. (Will upload beta photos). From the summit, descend the regular hikers trail.


Cams to about 4’’, doubles in the .75-2’’ range is helpful. 2 sets of nuts, a few large hexes are nice. Ice axes and possibly crampons can be necessary to reach the base of the wall.

Comments on Quickly Without Asking (Tallac Headwall Direct) Add Comment
Show which comments
By Ryan Curry
Aug 10, 2017

Awesome job. This route sounds adventurous!

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About