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The Wedge
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Normal Route T 
Shillelagh T 
West Ridge, The T 


YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 5 pitches, 800', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: R. Ingraham, R. Hahn, H. Fisher
Page Views: 3,602
Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Feb 11, 2008

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Wedge (mid 1980s): where is the stick...

Placement of bolts/fixed anchors is prohibited in Wilderness Study Areas MORE INFO >>>


The South Face of the Wedge is truly impressive: smooth granite walls baked by the sun, improbable looking roofs. This route was bold in its day and even with modern climbing gear is a climbing accomplishment. Originally called the South Face, Diagonal route, it is more commonly referred to by its nickname Shillelagh as is evidenced from the summit register.

P1, 5.9, 120 ft: Start up a right-facing chimney with a couple of large chock-stones to surmount. A crux section of 5.9 hand jamming gets you to a small tree with a backup nut in place for a belay. However, continuing up another 20 ft to a bit of an overhang provides a better protection from loose rocks. A 5.7 variation climbs a bushy ledge system about 100ft uphill from the original start and joins up at the Green Band.

P2, 5.8, 180ft: Continue up the chimney system and then the wooded corner/ledge which it turns into - the Green Band Ingraham describes. Climbing will ease of substantially once out of the chimney and traversing the Green Band.

P3, 5.6, 80ft: Go up a groove and then left on top edge of a flake so thin its existence alone demonstrates how rarely this route is climbed. Continue up the slabs to a ledge beneath the summit overhangs.

P4, 5.9+, 100ft: Climb through the beautiful summit overhangs, marveling at how the first ascentionists managed to get through these challenges. Two crux sections gain a large corner system where the climbing eases to 5.6 up to the top of the West Ridge.

P5, 5.8, 110ft: Finish up the final pitch of The West Ridge.


This route is difficult to point out during the approach, because the first 2 pitches are hidden from sight by The Tooth. Approach via the gully between the The Tooth and The Wedge which narrows down near a large dead tree. About 300 feet past the tree is a right-facing chimney just to the right of a large, blank slab.

The obvious landmark on the Wedge's South face is a tree-filled ledge high up on the face, commonly referred to by Dr. Ingraham as The Green Band. Shillelagh climbs up to the right side of the Green band and then up through a series of steep overlaps to gain the West ridge a pitch below the summit.

Approach and descent require a good deal of scrambling ability and bushwhacking.


On the first ascent, a Shillelagh (wooden stick) was used to get past the summit overhangs. Nowadays, a few large cams (#4 friend) are all you need. Even so, there are two old 1/4" bolts on the crux pitch, but there are good placements below and above these so there is really no excuse to rely on them.

Many of the trees along the route have poot slings and rappel gear and you can rappel the route easily until you pass the crux pitch, at which point you're better off finishing the route.

Photos of Shillelagh Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Scott Jones nearing the top of Pitch 1.
Scott Jones nearing the top of Pitch 1.
Rock Climbing Photo: Compare to Those...
Compare to Those...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitches 1 and 2. Photo Aaron Hobson.
BETA PHOTO: Pitches 1 and 2. Photo Aaron Hobson.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 1 climbs the chimney/crack system in the mid...
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 1 climbs the chimney/crack system in the mid...

Comments on Shillelagh Add Comment
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By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Oct 22, 2012

Climbed this today with franciscov. It's a great route. Some comments ...

P1: The tree at the end of this pitch is small and offers a kind of hanging belay (with supplemental gear).

P2's It is possible to go left from the little tree on P1 up a grassy corner. It is probably around 5.9. Leave the 4" piece and bring a 5" instead if going this way.

P3: If you put the belay as high as practical in the treed vegetation, a 60 meter rope will just reach to the West Ridge on P4 with care about rope drag.

P4: Jackson's "Rock Climbing NM" guide gives more detail if unsure about route finding skills or expecting to be short on time.
By Alex Jacques
From: Burlington, CT
Nov 21, 2015

5 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation on the approach. It took us 4 hours, as both of us were new to the area. Lots of bushwhacking through prickers, a good amount of wet slab. Actually quite dangerous unless we really just fucked up and picked an unfavorable path. Climbing was stellar, but would want to go back with a local next time.
By Bill Lawry
From: New Mexico
Nov 22, 2015

Sounds like the description of the approach we took, Alex.
By Sam Cannon
From: Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 18, 2016
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

I don't know how Alex approached the route, but 5 miles seems off to me based on how I did it and the approach was the most straightforward of the various Organ routes I have done.

Here's some beta that might help future parties. Take the Modoc Road in as far as your car will allow (don't even think about taking a sedan, you need clearance and pretty good suspension), then follow the road for a long ways, swing out wider to the right when the road forks. The Tooth and the Wedge will be very obvious the whole way.

When you get to the base of the Tooth (and there's a trail with no bushwhacking involved) head around the formation to the left and up into a gully. To avoid bushwhacking stay right on the rock on the right side of the gully. Most of the bushes can be avoided by easy class 3/4 scrambling. Continue up until you see the base of the route.

For the rappel there is a very easy way off to the SE from the summit of the Wedge (pointing towards Sugarloaf) that takes a bit of looking to find but there's plenty of tat to give it away. Just head a bit down the ridge until you see it. One 60m rappel gets you into a gully. Scramble down the gully until you see some more tat on a tree to get down a short and steep step that is just long and steep enough to warrant rapping. Scramble the rest of the way down and then up the notch. Super short walk back to the packs.

About the route: it's very dirty. The opening chimney pitches were clean, but the slab leading up to the 4 crux roofs was choked with fresh soil. I had to do a fair amount of cleaning on lead to get pro/handholds. I pulled out quite a few tufts of grass stuff on my way up as well. The roofs themselves were incredibly fun, and the final pitch leading from the topout on the ridge to the summit was steep, exposed, and very memorable.

The fourth roof is the crux but isn't harder than 5.9/5.9+. High foot in the crack wins the day.

I get the impression that this route is seldom done, so bring extra webbing to replace or reinforce what's already there.
By Alex Jacques
From: Burlington, CT
Aug 16, 2017

Sounds much more reasonable Sam... we approached from the campground and as we were new to the area and without a guide book we most likely made an unfavorable approach.
By Karl Kiser
Aug 18, 2017
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

There is a good east side approach. The Wedge summit is small when viewed from the east. Locate and determine the dirt ridge which goes to the base of the summit (and the one rope rap to the same spot). Walk up the loop trail from the campground until you reach the ridge noted above. Go up the ridge and dump packs at a flat spot. Take gear and self to the south and descend the gulley to the start of the climb. Climb and then reverse the entire process.
By Drew Chojnowski
From: Las Cruces, NM
Aug 19, 2017

Karl is correct that east approach of Wedge is doable, but FYI, the first and last time I did the east approach of Wedge was a nightmare of horrendous bushwacking through spiky things and stinging nettles (springtime). Something like 80% of the West approach is on a good, maintained trail and should be/is very straightforward. Walk up to the Tooth on a trail, then turn left staying close to the rock wall on your right side, and hike up the gully to the Wedge south face.

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