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

Type:  Trad, 6 pitches, 900', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Michael Covington, Billy Westbay and Doug Snively, 1975
Page Views: 13,610
Submitted By: Jesse Ryan on May 13, 2001  with updates from Greg D

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Looking down at the 5.8 slab start with little to ...

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  • Description 

    This is another fun Sundance route. It starts to the left of Mainliner, climbing a shallow, right-facing crack just left of a left-facing flake.

    P1: Ascend the corner as it fades work left past incipent seams and runout face climbing (8) to a small ledge below another crack system.

    P2: Follow the left-facing crack with interesting jams up to and over a small roof and belay on a ledge below and to the left of a wider crack (9).

    P3: Follow the wide crack to another belay ledge (8).

    P4: Follow an easy crack system just left of the crux pitch of Mainliner (6) or move right to join Mainliner.

    P5: Follow cracks just left of Mainliner (we joined Mainliner). This is likely the best pitch of the climb.

    P6: The topo indicates another pitch of 5.9 followed by a pitch of 5.6 choice of easy climbing up to the summit or traverse right to the Saddle Descent.

    Eds. Below is an updated description with the complete route (not joining Mainliner).

    Per Greg D: when the approach trail reaches the buttress, continue up and left for another 100 yards or so to where the trail tends to level out and just begins to head downhill. Locate an old, large, downed tree stump that has fallen to the right (east). 20 feet left of this tree stump is a left-arching, featured finger crack. Start here.

    P1. Climb the left arching finger crack which is tricky but well-protected. When the crack ends, continue up and left on easier rock to the crack/gully system, 9-, 75 feet.

    P2. Climb the crack/gully system with some vegetation and sometimes wet. Exit the gully/crack system to the right onto cleaner rock via a finger crack. Continue up to a generous belay ledge, 9, 80 feet.

    P3. Climb the splitter 4” wide crack, 8, 100 feet.

    P4. Climb up an left for another 90 feet to a good stance, 7, 90 feet.

    P5. Climb the obvious crack up and slightly left heading towards what appears to be a steep finger crack but actually is a hand crack topped by a small roof. Place good gear before and after the roof, because gear will be harder to find after this point. Take the path of least resistance heading towards the large left facing corner capped by a roof. Belay in the left facing corner below the roof, 9, 8+ R, 100 feet. It may be possible to continue over the roof (9) and belay above.

    P6. Climb over the roof (9) and continue up and slightly right to a nice, wide crack/chimney on easier terrain, 100 feet. Several other possibilities exist here.

    P7. Climb the wide crack/chimney until you can exit right on a large ledge.

    To combine pitches: 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & over the roof, 6 & 7 to the walkoff ledge.


    Head right on 4th class terrain. You may need to scramble slightly down and east to a notch. Find a small tree with slings. Do three single rope rappels from trees with slings. Note: a 60 meter rope doesn’t reach the second tree, but some 5.0 or easier climbing will get you to it.


    Standard rack.

    Per Greg D: bring a standard rack with a few RPs, TCUs, and a 4” cam for pitch 3.

    Photos of Sidetrack Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Chris contemplating the slab moves up the thin, le...
    Chris contemplating the slab moves up the thin, le...
    Rock Climbing Photo: This is the recommended 5.9 start to P1.  There ar...
    This is the recommended 5.9 start to P1. There ar...
    Rock Climbing Photo: This beautiful hand crack leads to a wild finish, ...
    This beautiful hand crack leads to a wild finish, ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Jamming is easy on P4. Enjoy, there's plenty of 5....
    Jamming is easy on P4. Enjoy, there's plenty of 5....
    Rock Climbing Photo: The belay at the top of P2 (easily combined with P...
    The belay at the top of P2 (easily combined with P...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Heading up the beautiful fifth pitch of Sidetrack ...
    Heading up the beautiful fifth pitch of Sidetrack ...

    Comments on Sidetrack Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 3, 2015
    By Jim Amidon
    Jun 25, 2001

    Really nice route another Sundance gem. The crack on the second pitch is wide and sustained. The last pitch of 5.9 is awesome, bring a minimum of a 3.5 Camalot and be ready to walk the dog........
    By S. Kimball
    Sep 17, 2002

    Jesse missed Sidetrack's primo pitch by joining Mainliner.Pitch #5 goes up a thin crack in blackish rock(5.9) to the bottom of an inverted "V" roof. Step into this from the left(5.8)then over the roof crack. IMHO Sundance's best 5.9.
    By Charles Vernon
    From: Tucson, AZ
    Jun 20, 2003

    Have to agree with Scott--the final 5.9 pitch is one of the best on Lumpy, and the real meat of the route--lots of awesome, steep and varied climbing on this pitch. The climbing is quite reasonable; the whole pitch seems easier than the 5.9 section on pitch two. Don't bail into Mainliner.

    We combined pitches 1&2, as well as 3&4, which worked very well (minimal drag, good belays) with a 60 meter rope and a standard rack--I highly recommend doing it this way. (we had nothing larger than a #3 Camalot, which worked fine, though 3.5 and 4 would get used on the standard pitch 3). This route is, IMO, as good as Mainliner, and only a little harder--the first pitch is pretty runout at 5.8, though.
    By S. Kimball
    Jun 11, 2004

    Pitch #1 as described is a poor choice, better to climb the thin left arching crack a few steps west ,but still east of GRAPEVINE.When the crack ends faceclimb right on black incut holds to the belay.This is beautiful 5.8 and 9 climbing, protectable the whole way with small wires and tcu's.For what its worth D.Snivley and I did a variation to Pitch#2.Move out left and mantle up some large flakes then work up for pro in the regular line. Move out left and just before reaching GRAPEVINE jam an excellent 5.9+/10-, left facing red, dihedral that soon bends back to the normal route.
    By John Keller
    Jul 12, 2004
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Just did this route over the weekend and I'm amazed that it isn't as popular as Mainliner. The full route is excellent. Kimball's comment about the start is the way to go. Rossiter has almost no description of this route but the topo is good. We used that and descriptions from two other books and it all worked out very well. Every pitch has good climbing on it. I thought pitch 4 was a bit harder than 6. The crack in pitch 5 is absolutely stellar. Just at the end of the crack there is a mini roof. After the roof the climb goes way left to get gear and holds then comes back right to enter the A roof from the left. It goes well but you'll need to extend the pieces at the end of the crack so avoid too much drag. The stemming in the roof was amazing and looks really hard but it was all there. As good as Mainliner IMHO.
    By Errett Allen
    Jul 13, 2004

    Better than Mainliner -- just as high quality but more sustained. Must do on Sundance. Pitch 5 is gorgeous and wild.
    By kyle lefkoff
    Sep 2, 2004
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Climbed the first three pitches with Mike Alkaitis yesterday, then the next three pitches of Mainliner. I agree with Kimball's suggestion on the first pitch - start to the left. I would give this pitch an s rating. The combination with Mainliner provides six consistent pitches at the 5.8+/5.9 standard with splitter rock and excellent stances.
    By Cale Csizmadi
    From: Colorado Springs
    Jul 14, 2005
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    We climbed the route this past weekend following the suggestion by Charles to combine the 1st four pitches into two pitches. This is definitely the way to climb this beauty. The final 5.9 pitch is one awesome lead!! I also thought this climb was better and more sustained than Mainliner-- IMHO :o)
    By Luke Clarke
    From: Golden
    Jul 18, 2005
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Best 9 on Sundance. Best 9 at Lumpy. Gillett's guide describes the same (excellent) start as Scott Kimball above. It's good small pro (RPs, a blue TCU) but at some easy points you're standing above your last placement and not seeing your next placement but the good holds lead to good gear.
    By Will Butler
    From: Boulder, CO
    Sep 6, 2005

    I was [wondering] if anyone knows the name of the beautiful left facing, over hanging dihedral that can be done as a variation to the last pitch on climbers right. It was amazing climbing but it felt like it was rarely done. Thanks. - Will Butler
    By SW Marlatt
    From: Arvada, CO
    Mar 16, 2006
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Absolute agree on the 5th pitch - one of the nicest cracks you can imagine. We belayed at the top of the crack - short traverse left to a little, airy, very exposed perch, and worked up through the roof as a 6th pitch. The anchors here were a bit thin but ok (several small wires), but great position!

    Wonderful route! You can bear off above the roof, or continue up and slightly right to top out (recommended).
    By SirVato
    From: Boulder
    Jun 12, 2006

    I think I did the correct start but the only gear I saw was about 15ft up. I was planning on linking the first 3 pitches so I opted to skip it. Wouldn't have done much good anyways, since I got nothin' 'til about 60ft where I got 2 small wires. If you don't like really run out face climbing, I would definitely take the crack to the left.
    By climber73
    From: Fort Collins, CO
    Apr 21, 2008

    Between the small roof at the end of the hand crack on P5, and the final 5.9 roof, you don't need to go left. You can go straight up through the seams and broken crack systems at 5.8+R (not as hard as the short traverse on the face below the handcrack P5). The last piece of gear I was able to get was 5 or 6 ft over the lip of the small roof. I gunned for the top of the face and a solid #0.4 Camalot. This section is fun but committing. If you get through the 5.8 runout at the bottom without problems, this isn't all that much harder.

    Fun route! Definitely more sustained than Mainliner... and the last roof is really fun with GREAT PRO! Don't bail onto Mainliner!!
    By tooTALLtim
    From: Boulder, CO
    Nov 2, 2008

    P5 is awesome! Go straight up for the hot stuff.
    By Bill Flaherty
    From: Evergreen, CO
    May 29, 2009

    Pitches 1 and 2 link very easily with a 60m rope - a good way to go. As someone noted, the first pitch is spicy. I took the thin, left-arching crack that others mention, then cut back right to the first belay stance along a prominent edge. The runouts aren't crazy, but many of the moves are on rounded edges/smears and you can't place gear everywhere you'd like it. It gets more positive as you get higher. While pitch 5 is a pretty amazing section of climbing, with an unflared crack(!), all in all, my vote goes to Mainliner as the better route.
    By Ross Swanson
    From: Pinewood Springs
    Jul 20, 2009
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    Did the clean straight up small crack section on P5 below the slot, got in 3 small nuts, even so the last move was pretty scary, hardest move of whole route. Combining 1,2,3 w/70m just makes it to a ledge.
    By Eric and Lucie
    From: Boulder, CO
    Jun 11, 2012
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a PG13

    Someone should modify the description of this route to remove any suggestion to connect into Mainliner. Pitch 5 of SideTrack is the crux, the best pitch, and the main reason to do the route in the first place. Avoiding it by connecting with Mainliner seems like the strangest idea....
    BTW, I think that one of the best 5.9 lines you can do on Sundance is to link the FIRST 3 pitches of Mainliner, followed by p5 of Sidetrack!
    By Canon
    Aug 15, 2012
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    All pitches are sustained and awesome. We linked 1-2 and 3-4 with a 60m. All the gear is there.
    By Andy Hansen
    From: Longmont, Colorado
    Jun 9, 2013
    rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

    Classic Lumpy weirdness! Though the cracks are a bit more receptive to gear placements than say... George's Tree or J-Crack. The first pitch variation is heads up, but the gear is adequate and good - so when things look bleak, keep going. I thought most of the climbing clocked in around 5.8+ to 5.9+ most of the time. But the route is great!
    By Jason Albino
    From: San Francisco, CA
    Jul 18, 2013

    Climbed this on our first ever trip to Lumpy Ridge last week. Used a light/medium rack with a small group of nuts and cams up to a #4 (the latter used only twice - once on the P3 offwidth and once over the P6 roof).

    Loved the route and definitely felt that we got our money's worth for the hiking effort out to this final western formation on the ridge. Would be definitely feasible to do two routes in a summer day on the Sundance formation assuming a ~9AM hour start and a decent pace. In relation to J-Crack on The Book (esp. its second pitch), our other venture on Lumpy, I found Sidetrack to be much less sustained and just a whole lot of fun.

    We selected Sidetrack after debating between this and Mainliner, and I'm glad we chose the former! If Mainliner is half the fun of this climb, these routes would certainly make for an epic two-route-day affair.

    The approach took us ~90 minutes from the parking lot at a semi-leisurely face and given the usual Lumpy final steep climber's trail to the wall after the main trail walking. I saw a reference in the comments to a cairn marking the junction from the hiker's trail to the climber's trail to the Sundance formation, but as of July 2013 there's an actual marked sign for Sundance off of the main trail, so no need to look for cairns at the junction.

    With a 60m rope, we:
    - Linked P1-P2 easily
    - Did P3 in a single pitch
    - Did P4 in a single pitch
    - Linked P5-P6 easily
    - Did P7/finish in a single pitch.

    For P1, I saw another party meander a bit, but I aimed essentially straight for the obvious mini-roof from the ground, traversing a bit rightward for pro after setting gear in the initial left-leading flake. This line worked great and climbed much better than it looked, culminating with a really fun and well-protected move up-and-left on P2 over the mini-roof to the belay stance.

    For P3, we had just come from Vedauwoo a few days previous, so the bits of offwidth here on the first half of the pitch felt rather mellow in comparison. I took a left-side-in approach to the wider parts and had few problems. Then if you have fairly big hands, the second half of the pitch will take locker hand jams and is a blast (my girlfriend, with much smaller hands, had no problems there either). Bring at least one #4 for the first 1/3 of the pitch (and perhaps 2 #4s and one #6 if you really want to button up the pitch/are unfamiliar with offwidth movements) - otherwise a tipped-out #2 *deep* in the wide portion of the crack might work, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you are confident on 5.8 offwidth.

    I recommend doing the easier P4 in one pitch or linking P3-P4 but stopping there. There are great belay ledges after P3 and P4, and belaying at the end of P4 will set you up beautifully to link the gorgeous P5 (bomber hand jams and delicate moves to jugs) with the fun P6 (which includes an interesting, well-protectable with a #4, right-leading roof pull).

    After the roof on P6, I romped up the easier 5.6 terrain to an arbitrary belay (there are many options), and then found a better-than-it-looks right-trending finish existing a chimney-ish area to what seemed like a good entry to the descent "saddle". As it turned out, this was a good idea and put us in prime position to directly reach the descent path. I would recommend this highly as opposed to continuing up to the true summit, since the climbing terrain above looked forgettable and this version saves a good bit of tedious descent.

    From our endpoint on the climb, we hiked up-and-right and then erroneously headed down-and-right to the area we thought was the descent path. After bailing on that due to steepness and climbing back up to our departure point, we found the easement in the "saddle" on the formation and downclimbed down-and-left through large trees and spotted the first of 2-3 tree rappels. We ignored these raps and downclimbed the low 5th class short moves for ~10 minutes until joining the more obvious and cairned down-and-right trending descent path back to the base.

    In retrospect, if we knew the correct descent path from the get-go off of the P7 exit we took, I would have set up some cairns linking that route exit point with the aforementioned easement in the saddle. Perhaps another party can do this to add safety to the descent.

    Anecdotally, it seems like a great way to climb Lumpy in general would be to get the backcountry permit and bivy somewhere 2/3 up the hiker's trail for 4-5 days. This would avoid the same daily hike we did from the parking lot and assuming good weather, looks to be a *very* mellow backcountry excursion.

    Feel free to email me for any other beta if you read this soon!
    By claytown
    From: Boulder, CO
    Aug 5, 2013

    Excellent route. Fun and interesting the whole way, and you get to do 3 easy "OWs". Fully agreed with the crack start that angles left then back right across the slab... there are some runouts, but there is way more gear than it looks like from the ground.

    As for the 5th pitch, the wavy hand crack, getting through the roof is easy with great gear. Above the roof, the gear is thin and well below you pulling the slabby moves, so don't blow it.

    This was a great route, but I think it would be pretty spicy for a 5.9 leader since there are quite a few spots where you are 15' above gear and a bit of the gear is fiddley and/or Aliens & small nuts. Bring your RPs. I used them a few times. Excellent line.
    By Chris Winter
    From: Portland, OR
    Aug 27, 2013

    Sidetrack is an excellent route with cerebral climbing often times above delicate protection.

    On pitch 4, we stepped right into the crux 5.9- stembox of Mainliner. For pitch 5, we stepped back left into the crux 5.9 finger crack/roof pitch of Sidetrack. With this minor variation, the route offers sustained 5.9 climbing for 4 of the 6 pitches - definitely recommended.

    The crux 5th pitch on Sidetrack is pretty real. A techy finger crack leads into a stellar hand crack and then over a small roof where the pro gets sparse. The moves up to the base of the big roof are steep, and well above your last piece - pretty heady for the 5.9 climber, but it's all there. The roof itself is the icing on the cake - well-protected and straightforward.
    By manel casanova
    From: gillette
    Sep 11, 2014
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R

    Amazing route. Very interesting first pitch and incredibly beautiful 5th pitch. I climb the crack and the roof in a single pitch, and it felt powerful and totally aesthetic climbing. The guide says that is 5.9, but it feels to me more like a beautiful 5.10a.
    By doligo
    Jun 3, 2015

    This route is made for offset nuts. Make sure to bring a full set of HB brassies as well - I only had a couple. C3s would've been nice too. A #4 is not necessary, could probably get away without a #3 too. The top part of P5 is a steep jug haul well above your gear - really unusual kind of climbing for granite.

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