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Surrealistic Pillar 

YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 270'
Original:  YDS: 5.7 French: 5a Ewbanks: 15 UIAA: V+ ZA: 13 British: MVS 4b [details]
FA: K. Edsburg, M. Edsburg, J. Sublette, 1963
Page Views: 30,249
Submitted By: Aron Quiter on Aug 29, 2003

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Joe L. coming up the wide crack section. If you...

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This excellent route ascends the entire length of the Lower Buttress, bringing you up out of the giant forest below and high enough so you think you're way the hell up. Then you top out, and realize that the main wall of Lover's Leap hovers over you, and that you're a mere peon in between the giant walls of horizontal dykes.

For a 5.7, this has an excellent variety of terrian for only 3 pitches.

Accessing the route is easy: Walking up to the Lower Buttress, walk right until you find the first set of bolts. Then walk a little more to the second set of bolts, which is Pillar of Society (.12a). The next crack is the Direct Start of Surrealistic Pillar (.10a), and finally you'll be on a tier with a flat face and a couple of large horns about 15 - 20 feet off the ground. You're here.

Pitch 1: Climb up to the horns, and continue up and left to a well protected crack system to a wide (4") left facing crack.

Pitch 2: Follow this crack up for about 4 dykes, where you need to cross to a large horn. Follow this around the arete, where you can belay from a ledge.

Pitch 3: Simple. Go up the face with large jugs and belay from something suitable up top.


A full rack, and slings. A 4" or greater piece will make the first belay more comfortable. Slings of a wide variety are also always useful at the Leap.

Photos of Surrealistic Pillar Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: light
Rock Climbing Photo: With stunning views taken in on many of the leap c...
With stunning views taken in on many of the leap c...
Rock Climbing Photo: "Surrealistic Pillar". 1970s. Photo by B...
"Surrealistic Pillar". 1970s. Photo by B...
Rock Climbing Photo: First pitch of Surrealistic Pillar.
First pitch of Surrealistic Pillar.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing surrealistic pillar on a very cold late O...
Climbing surrealistic pillar on a very cold late O...
Rock Climbing Photo: Kat on Surrealistic Pillar
Kat on Surrealistic Pillar
Rock Climbing Photo: Yeah, the final pitch is runout (but easy).
Yeah, the final pitch is runout (but easy).
Rock Climbing Photo: Surrealistic Pillar direct on the left 5.10B and S...
Surrealistic Pillar direct on the left 5.10B and S...
Rock Climbing Photo: Crack to face.
BETA PHOTO: Crack to face.
Rock Climbing Photo: Awesome climb.
Awesome climb.
Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown climbers on Surrealistic pillar
Unknown climbers on Surrealistic pillar
Rock Climbing Photo: P2
Rock Climbing Photo: leading the 1st pitch
leading the 1st pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: View of surrealistic pillar
BETA PHOTO: View of surrealistic pillar
Rock Climbing Photo: BroccoliRabe moving through Time and Space on Surr...
BroccoliRabe moving through Time and Space on Surr...
Rock Climbing Photo: If you skip the bolts (which I recommend) this is ...
BETA PHOTO: If you skip the bolts (which I recommend) this is ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from the top of Surrealistic Pillar.  Ici...
The view from the top of Surrealistic Pillar. Ici...
Rock Climbing Photo: Photo by A C Jesse
Photo by A C Jesse

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 26, 2017
By Blitzo
Sep 8, 2006

One of the best 5.7s anywhere! Fun free solo!
By caughtinside
From: Oakland CA
Jan 23, 2007

Much better to do this one in 2 pitches, no problem with a 60m rope. Belay at a good stance just above the wide crack. Then, up 25', make the traverse, and up until you top out.
By W. Spaller
May 18, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

The occasional striaght in jam is very useful on this route. Awesome route with steep rock and big holds. Do corrugation after for an awesome day.
By Tom Johnson
From: Colorado Springs, or Santa Fe
Aug 6, 2008
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I agree that this route could/should be done in two pitches. It is straight enough that rope drag isn't much of an issue. It is a bit intimidating for a new 5.7 trad leader!
By grizz Burton
Sep 18, 2008
rating: 5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I found the start to be a little bouldery. Some of the traverses get you pretty far from your gear so it could be a little intimidating for a new leader. It seems to do it in two pitches would make communication difficult. The third pitch is like a solo, very little if any gear, easy climbing on big rails though.
By Aerili
From: Los Alamos, NM
May 31, 2009

The first pitch is really beautiful. However, the wide crack you encounter at the end of p1 doesn't take a #4 Cam; it is way too wide. A #5 Camalot should fit, although I didn't have one. The crack appeared it would take the #4 a lot higher up, but the route doesn't continue up that way, I believe, unless you do the 5.8 variation, so carrying a 4 was just dead weight for me.

If you are solid at the grade, you can put in a couple so-so tiny cams on the face opposite the wide crack until you get to a big pin about 20-30 feet up and can clip it. However, the pin was definitely put in by a tall climber; there is a big ledge to stand on under it, but I couldn't reach it from this secure stance.
By Joe Ludlow
Jun 9, 2010

Hey Aerili! I went back and led that second pitch. I would say that you probably need at least a #6 to protect it down low but you can get an amazing jam in it with your foot and if your shoulder is too small, just fold your forearm in front of your chest to get a nice bit of chest/arm camming action! Then just face climb with your left hand/foot. I found it to be very comfortable.

When the crack starts pinching down on you and becomes awkward, if you search inside the crack you can place two amazing nuts (with a nice long sling) to protect the traverse or do the 5.8 lay back and continue up the crack.

A 200' rope BARELY reaches the top. Your partner may have to stand on his/her tippy toes. Bring lots of long slings to avoid rope drag. The 5.5 "runnout" is more like 4th class stair stepping and isn't worth stressing out about.
By J. Albers
From: Colorado
Jul 6, 2010
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

You shouldn't need wide gear for the second pitch 5.8 variation. There are good nuts to be found in constrictions inside the wide crack. I thought it to be a fun and secure way to go. Also, I'm not sure about the #4 for the 1st pitch anchor...I seem to remember two #2 Camalots being the ticket. Great route.
By Chris D
From: the couch
Oct 23, 2011

Supertopo (and some here) suggest a 4" or larger piece for this route. I'd say you might want one if you're going straight up the corner on P2, otherwise, anything larger than a #3 camalot is overkill.
By Daniel Hottinger
Jul 5, 2012

A #5 works for protecting the wide crack at the end of P1, even at the lowest point.
By Dusty Cams
Sep 4, 2012

Doable in 1 pitch w/ a 70m rope if you're willing to do ~30 ft of simul climbing off the deck--easy if you're solid at the grade and willing to run it out a bit. Great route.
By Rude Boy
From: San Francisco, CA
May 23, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Very fun. A must do classic.
By Ryan Curry
May 24, 2013

After topping this one out head up to Corrugation Corner for an excellent link-up. For a more ambitious day add Deception and Bear's Reach which would give you about 12 pitches of climbing at or below 5.7 and which ascend 4 of the Leaps's major faces.
By bmdhacks
Jul 17, 2013

I went too far on the first pitch and belayed in the top of the right gulley at the top of the wide crack, and then only had a short run for the second pitch. Basically ran my 60m rope to it's end. Next time I'd belay 15ft lower down and move left onto the face earlier.
By Matt N
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Mar 22, 2014

#4 is not useful, nor anything larger (same if linking with Corr. Corner) Both routes swallow nuts though.
Great linkup, awesome routes.
By Micah Rogers
From: Asheville, NC
Jun 2, 2014

Great climb. I would also recommend breaking it into two pitches- I had a hard time finding anything to belay from at the end of the first pitch, as the biggest piece I had was a #3. There's also an old piton around that area, but nothing that I would really trust. There is a bunch to choose from at the top of the second pitch, however.

We came across a watch at the bottom of the route after our descent last Thursday (5/29); if this is yours, please ID its type and I'll be glad to send it your way!
By Jan Tarculas
From: Riverside, Ca
Jul 16, 2015
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

I agree with doing this in 2 pitches.

With a 70M rope I set up my 1 belay after the wide crack ends on a good ledge. I believe I used a #3 and a #2 C4 + something else for belay, but many options up top. You don't need a #4 or anything wider for this route. Plenty of small gear for the mid section of this route. Midway up is a fix piton next to the wide crack. I traversed left right before that piton and didnt even clip it. I also didn't see the traversed unitl I saw a small chalked hold out left
By ColinR
Aug 9, 2015

The 50-foot runout may be an easy climb but if you blow it you'll take a big swing into a dihedral wall.
By r tan
Aug 15, 2017

Would anyone have beta on how to get from the top of Surrealistic Pillar to the Main Wall? I'm assuming there's an easy climber's path, but couldn't find it. Ended up doing a free solo/bushwhack up a 20 foot 5.3 mini-ledge before we could see the climber's trail for Main Wall/Central/East Wall.

On another note, it was awesome that I had cell phone service on practically the entire route! I had Verizon, my partner had T-mobile. It was very easy to communicate especially as I linked P2 and P3 and we couldn't see/hear one another after the arete traverse.
By Josh Lowy
From: Sacramento, CA
Aug 26, 2017
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b

Fun and pretty straightforward climb. I agree the final slab runout is more like stair-stepping. You can protect it somewhat if you really need to by slinging plenty of the chickenheads along the way. We started up SP Direct and still did it in 3 pitches, but I think for the future I will knock that down to 2 without hassle. Continued up to Corrugation Corner for a sweet linkup.

r tan, if you follow the trail up to the truer summit of the pillar a trail will head east. You'll be able to see the base of the Main Wall clearly and follow trails to any of the routes on that from there.

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