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Moonlight Buttress
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Sheer Lunacy (Free) 

YDS: 5.12b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6b

Type:  Trad, 8 pitches, 800', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.12b French: 7b Ewbanks: 26 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E5 6b [details]
FA: FA: Ron Olevsky
FFA: Brad Barlage & Doug Heinrich at 5.13b. Drew Bedford had an unknown role in the FFA. FFA of the 12b variation: Brad Barlage
Page Views: 7,886
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Apr 29, 2010

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Sharp crack

Seasonal Raptor Closures ***** RAIN AND WET ROCK ***** The sandstone in Zion is fragile and is very easily damaged when it is wet. Holds rip off and climbs have been and will continue to be permanently damaged due to climbers not respecting this phenomenon. After a heavy storm the rock will remain wet, sometimes for several days. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN ZION during or after rain. A good rule of thumb is that if the ground near your climb is at all damp (and not powdery dry sand), then do not climb. There are many alternatives (limestone, granite, basalt, and plastic) nearby. Seasonal Raptor Closures MORE INFO >>>


Sheer Lunacy is a great, fairly mellow "big" wall climb in Zion, located just left of the much more popular Moonlight Buttress. It offers enjoyable climbing on every pitch and the cruxes are fairly brief; though it's just as long as its neighbor, it is much less tiring of a day.

P1: Begin as for Moonlight Buttress by climbing a long 5.7/5.8 groove system to a ledge with a tree. Belay here.

P2: Instead of moving right and into Moonlight's 5.10c pitch, head straight up a vegetated, right-facing corner. Actually, head up a flake system on the right wall of the corner and step back left into the corner fairly high up. Be very careful of loose rock here - some sandy, hollow flakes could take out your belay and ruin the afternoon. Once back in the corner follow it with increasing ease up into a chimney system. Trend left to gain a huge ledge system with trees and bushes - this ledge is very obvious from the road. Belay on this ledge. 180', 5.10.

P3: A short pitch continues traversing left and then up a 25' high 5.6 flake past some drilled pins and then moves left around the corner to a single bolt belay in an alcove. The bolt can be backed up with a 0.75 Camalot sized piece or so. 50', 5.6.

P4: The Primo Crack. Some topos indicate 5.12b, but way easier! Chimney up the alcove and undercling out the roof at the top to gain the nice, featured left-facing corner. Make sure to back-clean your gear in the alcove as the crack at the lip could create serious rope snafus! Lieback, jam, and face climb up the corner past a thin section to a belay. 120', 5.11c.

P5: The Second Crack... and almost as hard. Climb up the left-facing corner above the belay with occasional sandy and less-than-obvious gear placements. This section is kinda spicy, but holds and gear do keep coming. Save a bunch of long runners and move left on a ledge to the Shroud of Elvis. I'm not sure how this got it's name because I don't think Elvis is that great and this section of climbing is fucking awesome. Spectacular, exposed 5.9 up a steep flake with good stances and gear. Again, long runners or rope drag hell. Continue left around a corner and belay at a trio of drilled angles. 180', 5.11b PG13.

P6: The Face Crack to the Hidden Crack. Climb up the low-angle crack that splits the face above. A bolt and good gear lead to a small ledge and then a wide crack in a corner. This is the Hidden Crack and holds and gear abound if you look carefully. Belay at the top of Toquerville Tower. 100', 5.9.

P7: The crux pitch. The 5.13 version heads straight up from the top of the tower, but most will probably move the belay down and right to an exposed ledge below a single bolt. Crux number one comes moving up off the ledge and is much more difficult for those with large fingers. Continue up jams and face holds to a bolt. Clip this and foot traverse left along an improbable ledge back to the main crack system. A good stance here precedes the true crux, which, ironically, is much easier for the tall. So there's some difficulty for everybody. A bolt protects a cool lieback move to a providential face hold, then a hand jam, gear, and one more hard move past a bulge and a drilled pin. Catch your breath and continue up the Sharp Crack - a beautiful splitter on the left wall - to a belay on a small ledge. 100', 5.12b.

P8: The Sharper Crack. Continue up a crack and flare to a stretch of sandy rock with an optional lunge for a tree limb which makes for a dramatic top-out. 60', 5.11a.

Descend the Angel's Landing trail.


2 each blue Aliens to #1 Camalot. 1 each #2 and #3 Camalots. 2 sets of wires - especially a set of offsets! One 60m rope. Forget all the beta out there that says RP's, triple TCU's, or wide gear - completely unnecessary.

Photos of Sheer Lunacy (Free) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Awesome free route. I recommend the river crossing...
BETA PHOTO: Awesome free route. I recommend the river crossing...

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 21, 2016
By drewford
From: Wasatch Back, UT
Nov 5, 2008

I had a small part in the FFA of this route, so I get requests for a topo of the free version. I'll post it up in the photos area. Stewart Middlemiss and I did the second free ascent of the 12b route.
By Jesse Huey
Apr 28, 2010

Thought this route was super fun, maybe a bit sandy, but well worth the adventure. The harder pitches are super fun, primo crack a bit sandy but not too bad. The upper crux has a hard move for people who are not 6'5" or who cant jam green aliens... My rack beta for the free version: Double set .5 camalot to 1 camalot, 1 gold 1 blue. Triple set from purple tcu to yellow tcu, a set of medium stoppers -no brass necessary, optional 4 camalot - 5.9 below toquerville tower we used it but wished we didn't bring it... that is the only place.
By bheller
From: SL UT
May 3, 2010

FFA Brad Barlage and Doug Heinrich...13b true crux pitch protects perfectly with a #2 wild country rock
By Luke Stefurak
From: Seattle, WA
May 12, 2010

Instead of P2 and P3 as described above you can avoid the loose rock and climb pitches of Moonlight and Lunar X.

P2,3,4 - Climb the 10+ pitch of moonlight and belay the ledge. Instead of continuing right to moonlight go up the chimney/flare of Lunar X 5.10 or 10+ to the next ledge and belay. Then you do a much longer traverse left here which is no big deal while free climbing but would be a pain with a haul bag. There are occasional bolts and fixed pins to protect the traverse as well as tree's.

You can either stop this traverse before the section described as P3 above or continue around the corner to the single bolt belay under the roof.

P4 - The Primo Crack - I felt this was about as hard or perhaps harder than the thin laybacking pitch on Cloud Tower which is 11d or 12a. Maybe the holds have been getting bigger due to more traffic but 11c seems pretty sandbagged.

P5 - Second Crack - I don't know how this could be considered a mere letter grade easier then Primo. For me the difference was light and day. 5.11a seemed accurate and perhaps I had too much trust in the small nuts. I thought it was totally safe (no PG-13) and I did not use brass or offsets.

You can also belay at the base of the shroud of Elvis so you don't have such crazy rope drag. This also allows you to enjoy the amazing steep flakes.

P7 Felt pretty full value and this was the only pitch I was unable to onsight. The moves after the traverse were thin and perhaps harder because I am short. 12b/c might be a bit more fair but it could have felt harder due to fatigue.

Thanks for adding the route! Totally fun and a great day of climbing. Most of the belays are two drilled angles which are bomber but not equipped for retreat.

(The alternate crux pitch was also established by Brad Barlage et al)
By Keith Beckley
Oct 21, 2011

Good route...worth doing once...THe Primo crack is great but probably 11+....THe 5.12 crux variation up high is very bouldery and exposed. Excellent pitch! The 5.13 looks like it hasnt been done in years when i was on it..Great day of climbing though!! Do it!!
By Scott Bennett
Apr 20, 2013

With long pitches and a touch of easy simuling, this route goes in 4 pitches:
P1 from the ground to the base of the Primo Crack (we started up Moonlight. This pitch involved some 5.7 simuling)
P2 up the Primo crack to the first set of anchors
P3 to Toquerville tower
P4 to top

Fun route!
By MaryH.
From: Carbondale, CO
Apr 22, 2013

Not sure why everyone's gotta down rate stuff all the time... I've climbed lots of routes in lots of places, in the 5.11 & 5.12 range, & this is possibly one of the best 5.12 routes I've done... The first crux, is certainly a 5.12. When you've got small girl hands & it still feels like tips, that could constitute 5.12 territory. Also, bring a couple blue alien- purple metolius sized cams, cuz you'll place plenty on this pitch. Excellent climbing, though. Great lie backing!

The .12c pitch is amazing, & sporty! Climbs more like a technical pitch of sport climbing. Being 5'5", there was only one single spot that felt reachy on this pitch, & even so it was short-lived.

All in all, I think the pitch ratings Bryan Bird assigns in the guidebook are appropriate, except maybe the .11b pitch is more like .12a... Just saying. Have fun on this route!
By Jay 1975
From: Bonedale,CO
Apr 24, 2013

Excellent route! The roof is really only like 11b/c but the corner that follows gets thin for a couple moves and could be 11+?
The crux is sporty and good. Tiny and reachy higher on crux but there's a bolt.
We were casual and and pitched it out and it still only took 5 hrs.
By Max Tepfer
From: Bend, OR
Nov 5, 2013

+1 that the first '5.12' pitch is not 5.12. Especially when compared to the 12b up high. The first pitch has no single move harder than V2 and has a lot of rest and easier climbing. Honestly the 11a pitch after has a harder move (but only one) than anything on the pitch below. 11c/d seems about right, but I wouldn't disagree with 11c.
By Jer Collins
Nov 12, 2013

I'll add my pitch ratings to the consensus. What a great route. Easy to link pitches, but most belays are great ledges.

P1- 8 (to tree)
P2- 10c (to ledge)
P3- 7 (traverse, short)
P4-11+ (primo, great pitch)
P5- 11c (second crack. Mostly 10, with bp crux at "hole")
P6- 9 (way cool flake, linked with 5)
P7- 9R (delicate face to way cool crack)
P8- 12b (mandatory 11)
P9- 11- (super sweet finish)
By Monty
From: Golden, CO
Mar 21, 2016

Awesome route with great varried climbing.
A few comments:
- The rack beta mentioned here is spot on. We were happy to have tripples from purple - orange metolius as well as offset nuts. We brought the #4, but can see why others don't.
- Save a #1 camalot for after the traverse on the crux pitch, you'll be happy you did!
- The tree at the top is nothing more than a sawed off stump now, so lunge on!

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