Just a bit of poor rock at the top of Pitch 1 and at the start of P2 keeps the "stars" at only 2, otherwise a nice way to get to the clean, white slabs above, and otherwise a 3 star climb for sure. The bad rock and "tree/bush thrashing" of the normal P1 can be totally avoided by climbing "revisited" P1 of "A Night Climb..."....it is highly recommended to START there.
APPROACH: From the RR Tracks go up the short rock gully to the main slab (i.e. to the lowest 'toe' of the slab at the start of the Std Route; same as the winter climb Cinema Gully) then up RIGHT along the base passing starts of Time Traveler and Across-the-Universe and up close to the base of the slab for another 50 ft or so, (very steep dirt) then slab right through the woods 50-75 ft to the next low angle, easy slab. [photo 1] Start here, about 1/2 way up the slab at a 6-8" maple tree. (FA party probably started lower, as their P1 length is given as 150 ft)
Route is described climbing the first slab reached, starting about 1/2 way up it from its base. "Start #2" is near the lowest "toe" of the slab, down and to the right, but so far I haven't found anything inspiring. "A Night Climb...is found starting about 75 ft right, and 50ft above this "toe".
NOTE: Route description slightly revised May 2016.
P1- [Var./Alt] 100 ft 5.2-5.4 Diagonal easily up the slab to cross it, then either up through the bushes, trees and dirt,...or up the very poor rock just to the left of the same. In 2007, when confronted with a mossy wall, I climbed up on a 'nose-like" feature to the right, but in 2015 noted this had fallen off and left shattered yellow rock!, I stepped gingerly across to the right, then up. Belay in trees at the base of the dark rock. The letters "S T" are scratched/engraved(?) into the rock. [photo]
Variation/Alternate: Much cleaner and more solid rock is found on P1 of A Night Climb for Two Knights"; cleanest is one of the "revisited" variations of P1 (5.6 to 5.8), or even the original P1. (about 5.3-5.4)
P2- 60-80 ft 5.5-5.6 (PG/R?) Two choices to reach the bolt on the traverse: Choice 1: Climb up 5-6 ft to the right of the "engraved" "ST". [photo]. Up 20-25 ft in a very shallow right-facing corner, [5.5-5.6] protect (Yellow Alien, or equiv. nut) then traverse horizontally left passing an old 1/4" bolt [and its "replacement", a 3/8"]. Choice 2: Climb up 5-6 ft left of the "ST" on less secure rock, but easier climbing [5.4] , directly to the bolt. From the bolt, continue traversing left 12-15 ft and then climb up through the "nose" [photo]. About 5-6 ft to the right of the top of the "nose" there is a good belay on top of a large flake (Med. cams at your feet, or sit down) Alternately, one can belay at the 3/8" + 1/4" anchor directly above the "nose".
[Note: If the leader ties into the middle of the rope and uses "2-rope technique" but clips only one rope through protection, the second "rope" can be flipped around over the traverse and used to belay the second with virtually a direct overhead belay. Otherwise, seconding this pitch is just as committing as leading it.]
According to all published route descriptions the route "Celestial Path" leaves here, taking a rising traverse right to the next available tree ledge. [See route description submitted by Gunkswest]
P3- 100 ft 5.5-5.6 From the top-of-the-flake belay, move left, clip a new 3/8" bolt ["backed up" by the original 1/4" !] then up, first a bit left, then trending up and right on excellent rock with reasonable protection behind rounded flakes. Belay at left, at a 2-bolt anchor. ["A Night Climb..." branches off right at this belay.]
P4- 100 ft 5.4 - 5.5 PG/R Continue up and slightly right following a weak dike-like weakness. At about 40 ft up (5.4 R) pass an old 1/4" bolt with a new 3/8" bolt next to it, then up further to a 1/4" bolt. Belay slightly left at a 2 bolt belay. Today Gamma Ray leaves from this anchor/rap station. See the route description.
P5- Continue up and left along an obvious ramp-like feature. When we climbed the route, at the "end" of this "ramp" we made an easier-than-it-looked slabby move left to gain very easy climbing up a "groove" with rounded holds that led up to the Big Tree Ledge. [although a "P6" might be required] The actual F.A. may have gone straight up a slab just to the right of this feature (which looked to be certain "R/X" territory).
Once moved into the "groove" it was also possible to traverse further left to gain the rap/belay anchors (rap with 2 ropes) at the top of the "Milky Way Pitch" of Across the Universe.
P5a- "Lost in Space" Variation (??) [see also separate route description posted by Gunkswest; he has the variation as a 2-pitch Var., starting at the end of P2 and going all the way to "the tree ledge" in 2 pitches. They would have to be rope-stretchers with 50 m (165ft) ropes. Rapping from the Big Tree ledge to the end of P2 is four 100-ft raps. Even if the tree ledge is the "Mid-Slab-tree-ledge" it's 3 x 100 ft raps. Gunkswest indicates P3a has "2 bolts" and goes "to the regular belay", then his P4a heads up a white slab to the tree covered ledge. ]
Here's what we did, I think it's (most of) the 2nd Pitch given by Gunkswest, there must be a lower pitch that climbs the slab to the left of the regular P3.
Pitch 5a 110 ft 5.7 / 5.7+ From the dbl bolt anchor at the end of P4, climb straight up the white slab above. 20 +/- ft up, and a bit right of the whitest rock there is a "hole" that accepted a red alien (a Tri-Cam might be better) near the 5.7 / 5.7+ crux. Then easier (5.5-5.6) to the flake (#3 or #2 Camalot) and up to the "mid-slab tree ledge" above. [NOTE: The F.A. may have not gone right to the "mid-slab tree ledge" but rather stayed on the slab; but this would have been a VERY long pitch, especially in the day of 150ft / 50m (165ft) ropes]
P6a - If you want to climb up to the Big Tree Ledge, climb up about 125 ft of slab, then high-angle bushes and trees.
DESCENT- In 2007 we rapped from the "mid-slab tree ledge" at the end of P5a with a single 60m rope in 5 raps; the 3rd rap was from the lower of the two bolted anchors to a 4-5" birch tree [mentioned in the "NEClimbs.com" route description as P2's belay] In 2007 we went from this birch tree to the ledge below the black band; however, this tree is now (2015) VERY DEAD!
With the tree dead there are three options:
1)Best: From the lower double bolt anchor at the end of the normal P3, rap with TWO ROPES to the tree ledge below the "black band" (and thence a rap to the ground) ...or,
2) with a single rope rap to the bolt mentioned at the start of P3 [now a 3/8" SS with the old 1/4" attached], then off this to the tree ledge below the black band, or...
3) with a single 70m (and MAYBE with a 60m) it is possible to reach a bushy, sloping ledge with two 4-to-5-inch-diameter oak trees on rappeller's LEFT ("skier's" right) and thence from one of these, a single-rope rap to the ground near the base of the climb "Bear Minimum" This, however, is a mossy rap, with much vegetation to make throwing the rope difficult. Not recommended.
From the RR Tracks go up the short rock gully to the main slab (i.e. to the lowest 'toe' of the slab at the start of the Std Route; same as the winter climb Cinema Gully) then up RIGHT along the base passing starts of Time Traveler and Across-the-Universe and up close to the base of the slab for another 50 ft or so, then slab right through the woods 50-75 ft to the next low angle, easy slab. [photo 1] Start here, about 1/2 way up the slab at a 6-8" maple tree.
There is supposed to be a slabby lower start, down and off to the right (facing uphill). One attempt to find it by this climber resulted in two back-offs from quite low; although muddy/slimy shoes may have contributed to this! One of these two attempts had been optimistically labeled "Alt. Slab Start" on one of the photos.
Std Rack, Tri-cam(s) for "holes", "Screamers" for 1/4" bolts & draws for bolts.
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