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

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 200'
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Joe Cote and Eric Radack Oct .17th, 1971
Page Views: 7,089
Submitted By: lee hansche on Mar 24, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (72)
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Ansel climbing Retaliation during the summer solst...


This climb is one of those that the first time you look at it it makes you feel like you must climb it. It speaks to you and draws you in. That is both good and bad: good because it is a stellar route, bad because it can draw you in when you are not ready. There have been a few injuries on this climb over the past few years due to people getting pumped, stuffing in less than optimal gear, and then falling from the powerful pumpy layback crux.

It's a great climb, so by all means climb it, but be sure to take the time to make every piece count. There is good gear all the way. but it can be tough to see, since the crack is at your knees much of the time.

Pitch 1: (5.6) Climb the right leaning crack off of the ledge to a small belay stance to the right of the crack. It's a hand and fist size for the most part. Build an anchor in the crack.

Pitch 2: (5.9) Continue along the crack using face holds when they present themselves. It is possible in a few spots to step down and right to get a good view of your placement, and the climbing to come. The crux comes as a tough, burly, layback as the crack steepens. Take the time to protect well. After that you get to a stance below a final crack. The original line went right around easy climbing to the ledge, but if you want another 5.9 crux then fire the crack straight up to the ledge. Belay in a crack on the ledge.

Pitch 3: (5.6) Head up the cracks past a pin to more easy climbing and in to the woods at the top. Belay from trees. Hike off, or hitch a ride...


A very obvious, 100+ foot long, right-leaning crack, Retaliation is situated right above the lower, left wall, so Bombardment (5.8) or Fun House (5.7) are logical starts to approach this climb.


Regular rack.

Photos of Retaliation Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Ansel climbing Retaliation during the summer solst...
Ansel climbing Retaliation during the summer solst...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing out of the rest alcove and in to the last...
Climbing out of the rest alcove and in to the last...
Rock Climbing Photo: P1 Retaliation 5.6
P1 Retaliation 5.6
Rock Climbing Photo: Beautiful pitch on Retaliation. Mark Taylor up at ...
Beautiful pitch on Retaliation. Mark Taylor up at ...
Rock Climbing Photo: One more picture... its just such a pretty route!
One more picture... its just such a pretty route!
Rock Climbing Photo: Dad getting in to the fun stuff...
Dad getting in to the fun stuff...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ernie Hansche aka Dad laying back in the crux of R...
Ernie Hansche aka Dad laying back in the crux of R...

Comments on Retaliation Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 25, 2017
By Ian McEleney
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Aug 14, 2007

There are plenty of great nut placements before the crux on pitch two, though you have to lean over to see them. Practice cam conservation for the crux.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jun 1, 2008

Must just be me, I never thought that Retaliation was very good !
By lee hansche
From: goffstown, nh
Jun 1, 2008

I'm interested to know what your complaint would be?
By Zirolli
From: Boston
Feb 17, 2009

As one who was possibly lured in to this climb a little soon, I can say that it was one of my favorite experiences at Cathedral. Concise and secure gear placements are the key.
By CTYankee
May 5, 2009

A fantastic route. For a gear placing machine like myself, it is interesting to get a good look at those placements. The opening 5.6 pitch is not my favortie and takes away a bit. The crux pitch definitely has a special quality.
By E thatcher
From: Plymouth/ North Conway (NH)
May 24, 2009

I thought the 5.6 pitch was good for the grade, kind of fun in fact. Lee mentions that it is nice linking this with Bombardment and Funhouse. I found Three Birches to Retaliation to be a fun and consistent link up. The last pitch of Three birches has a right leaning lie backish crack as well, and it ends directly beneath Retaliation, so the routes seem to flow together for a solid 4-6 pitches, depending on how you break it up, of consistent climbing.
By lee hansche
From: goffstown, nh
May 25, 2009

a good piont, 3 Birches is about the same grade as this i just like the other 2 routes better :) better yet i think Funhouse Left linked to the second pitch of 3 Birches would be a cool one, im just not nuts about P1 of 3B...
By Jay Knower
From: Campton, NH
Jun 28, 2010

This is a great route, one of the best on the cliff, in my opinion. I agree with Lee that the gear is tricky to place, but it's good once you get it. I think it is important to be very solid at Cathedral 5.9 before leading Retaliation.
By E thatcher
From: Plymouth/ North Conway (NH)
Jun 28, 2010

Jay, sure you know this, but for those looking to lead this and anxious about the gear, the key is to look for rails to crimp on above the crack. If you miss those, which is conceivable if your head is down looking at the crack the whole time, then placing gear would in deed be desperate, with them it is not to bad.
I love climbing this route and looking down on the people waiting for 2 hours to do black lung or upper refuse. It's the same feeling one gets flying by everyone in the carpool lane.
By Peter Lewis
From: Bridgton, Maine
Sep 27, 2010

The first and second pitches can easily be combined with a 200-foot rope. Don't make this your first 5.9 on Cathedral---it's strenuous and a bit awkward. It's just about the only 5.9 that I've fallen off of in the last 30 years. Fall on it every time. It's not that hard; it's just that I can't do it.
By Mike Robinson
From: Worcester, MA
Sep 17, 2011

Do this route! great finish to anything near Bombardment...PS really easy to do in 1.25 pitches with 60m or 1 pitch with 70m, with some mindful rope managment.
By Michael Z.
Sep 18, 2011

Eric is right about placing gear I found the stances to be quite secure, and led the whole route in one pitch placing good gear sparsely and getting into a nice rhythm. Also had an audience of people in line for Black Lung that made it just that much better!
By Sam Dyer
Jul 4, 2015

Hey guys, the other day I had to bail off of a ledge when weather moved in, and had to leave a hex, a cam, and some anchor material to rap off the route. If anyone happens to come across it, could they let me know, I would love to get that gear back. Ill pay for shipping and send back some money for a six pack.
By Russ Keane
Oct 19, 2015

A very cool, interesting, and difficult climb. Maybe not as tricky as Recompense final pitch, but quite a pumpy challenge. It's similar to Black Lung for obvious reasons (angle, tilt, pump). The movements and features are dramatic, and unconventional. At times it's the most frustrating thing- All that sidways laybacking with shitty feet, trying to balance on a toe beneath you, but leaning way to the right for the next hand. No good stances. The belay ledge at the top of the steep cavity is one of the coolest on Cathedral (that I've seen).

Bring a #4 for the bottom unless you like ground-fall runouts.
By frank dahlmeyer
From: north conway nh
Oct 17, 2016

Always found that if you stay right of the crack on p2 instead of laying it back to the left the climbing isnt much(if at all )harder but it is much easier to place pro .
By Jay Morse
From: Hooksett, New Hampshire
Nov 22, 2016

I'll just echo that I think this is the toughest 5.9 lead out of the classics at Cathedral. It is definitely G-rated and definitely no tougher than 5.9, but if you are not comfortable in the grade it will probably feel PG-13 and harder to you. Chicken Delight, Birds Nest, They Died Laughing, and even Recompense + Beast Flake are all easier and safer leads to break into the grade in my opinion. I'm very glad I didn't get on this one too soon.

I linked pitch 1 and pitch 2, and would recommend it, but you might consider bringing some doubles - .75, #1, and #2 cams would be good choices.

If you're comfortable in the grade, there is nothing to fear - it's an awesome climb.
By ndchu
May 14, 2017

There are rappel rings on a tree at the top of this route, and it's possible to get to the ground with double ropes (unsure about getting down with a single 60 or 70).
By grubbers
From: Mass.
May 27, 2017

I've rapped off with a single 70, but it involved untying the stopper nuts and rapping off the ends of the rope to make it that final foot or so down to the ground.
By Benjamin Mitchell
Jul 25, 2017

I have to agree with the previous comments. This is a really cool route but the tricky moves and tricky gear make this significantly harder than the other 5.9 classics (Recompense, Chicken Delight, Bird's Nest, They Died Laughing). For me this was more challenging than Nutcracker (5.10a) or The Slot (5.10b).

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