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Surface Tension 

YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c PG13

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 190'
Original:  YDS: 5.11- French: 6c Ewbanks: 22 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 22 British: E3 5c PG13 [details]
FA: Paul Horak, Mark Leonard
Page Views: 1,156
Submitted By: George Perkins on Jul 18, 2007

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Excellent friction climbing on this one. Bolts close together at the crux make this a good one to try 5.11 slab, but it does take climbing a section of 5.9+ or 5.10 slab with pro far apart to get there.

Pitch 1. Clip the low bolt and make an awkward 5.10 move onto an easy ramp. This section can be avoided by starting farther right, but if you want to avoid this move, you'll probably be better off avoiding the rest of the climb too. A directional piece above this move is a good idea to protect the follower. Follow the easy ramp up and left to a ledge below a vertical crack. Build an anchor here, unless you have reason to do the climb in a single 60m pitch.

Pitch 2. Start up the slab, clip the first piton, work left and up on thin slab to the 2nd pin (5.9+ or 5.10 R) It's rather heady between the pitons but they are bomber. A few more moves gain a diagonal crack, and you get more pro, any cam 1"- 3" works. An intimidating but easy move puts you within reach of the first bolt on the final slab headwall. The well-protected face gets blanker and blanker with the hardest "surface tension" moves getting to the final bolt (crux).

An intermediate belay at the ledge below the pitons and/or the final headwall is recommended to reduce rope drag, although I found it tolerable to climb the whole route in a single 58m pitch- a good idea if you have 3 people.


Start below a single bolt about 10' uphill and left of Yikes Dikes on the west side of the north face of South Rock.


1 bolt down low, then 2 fixed pins, then 3 bolts, to a 2-bolt anchor, with some of your own trad gear in between..

1 60m rope works to descend the North side in a single rap. Find the center.

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By Mike Howard
Oct 22, 2007

FA Doug Bridgers?

"Felt all of 5.10R "SLAB" to Bob D'? Makes my palms sweat and I think I just vomited a little in the back of my throat. Expect a memorable climb.
By Paul Davidson
Aug 12, 2008

I agree with Bob, I'm real glad I didn't have to lead that slab past that pin.
By William Penner
From: The 505
Aug 12, 2008

Great route and thought provoking as Paul and Bob noted. The crux at the last bolt is well protected and you could spit on the summit, but I always fall there just within a few feet of success. That really sucks because you know you have to climb the run-out part again.
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Aug 12, 2008
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c PG13

Williampenner wrote:
The crux at the last bolt is well protected and you could spit on the summit, but I always fall there just within a few feet of success. That really sucks because you know you have to climb the run-out part again.

Exactly my thoughts! I was psyched to have gotten through the lower run-out section only to come off two moves from the top. I'm still working up the gumption to get back on lead of that pitch again. When I was leading through that run-out "pins" section I specifically remember thinking, "Why the hell did I sign up for this?" I loved it.
By David Baltz
From: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Aug 12, 2008
rating: 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13

The first ascent was actually by Paul Horak, Mark Leonard in Aug 1985. According to Paul Horak's notes, Mark led the runout pitch without the second pin, which was apparently added later--grinning all the way no doubt!
By Stu Ritchie
From: Denver
Sep 26, 2010

Although the harder sections are short, it's still a true test piece of both your mental fortitude and thin slab technique! This is indeed a surprisingly excellent route! I would also call the pin-protected slab full blown 5.10R! I was able to back the 1st pin up with a yellow Alien and #3 RP, but was concerned that the whole flakey bit might blow out from a fall near the next pin clip, the consequence of which would be quite painful.
By Dan Carter
From: Las Cruces, NM
Aug 29, 2011

Damn 5.10 slab! Quite a difficult and though provoking section between the pitons. Unfortunately I did fall on the first piton. Fortunately it held. I had nightmares of it not holding. One could back it up with a blue and purple tcu as well. Thunderstorms and lightning cut the climb short. Maybe next time.
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Aug 8, 2012
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c PG13

The above comments made me nervous about leading this climb, but the lower runout parts were fine (and there is good gear for backup, which I used) if you're going to cruise the delicate upper part that's well bolted. It's a really nice climb with good pro where you need it, and I encourage a strong slab climber to go for it and not get scared off by the above.

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