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West Ridge - part D - Xanadu to Pony Express
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Terminal Velocity 

YDS: 5.11b/c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 80'
Original:  YDS: 5.11b/c French: 6c+ Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 24 British: E4 6a [details]
FA: M. Rolofson and Alfredo Len, 11/29/1980
Fixed Hardware: 2 Belay Bolts [details]
Page Views: 5,393
Submitted By: david goldstein on Jan 1, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (132)
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Josh LaMar battling the thin crack up top.

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  • Description 

    This route is the obvious, left-facing corner just left of "Handcrack" on upper West Ridge. The crux is a thin section about 20 feet up that is protected by small RPs. The last 20', a beautiful stemming corner, is also fairly challenging but has much more reassuring protection. Once above this corner, traverse left 5' to the rap slings used by Handcrack. This quality pitch is somewhat diminished by huge ledge between the hard sections and the fact that at some points, including the middle of the crux, it's possible to escape right to Handcrack.

    Note that this pitch is easily top roped after doing 5.10 HC.


    Small: 2 each 1-3 RP, 1-4 Rock. A collection of small cams (up to #2 Friend) is also helpful.

    Photos of Terminal Velocity Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: Resting before just before the crux on his red poi...
    Resting before just before the crux on his red poi...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Rob walking an on-sight of Terminal Velocity.
    Rob walking an on-sight of Terminal Velocity.
    Rock Climbing Photo: You don't need handholds when you can stem this wi...
    You don't need handholds when you can stem this wi...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Terminal Velocity (11b, R) is more than just a Top...
    Terminal Velocity (11b, R) is more than just a Top...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Jacob Neathawk leading TV March, 2007.
    Jacob Neathawk leading TV March, 2007.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tonya stemming wide on the upper half.
    Tonya stemming wide on the upper half.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tonya working up to the ledge.
    Tonya working up to the ledge.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tonya starting the cruxy middle section.
    Tonya starting the cruxy middle section.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Photo by Kris Thompson  Just after the hardest sin...
    Photo by Kris Thompson Just after the hardest sin...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Wide stemming on the second half. There is a hard ...
    Wide stemming on the second half. There is a hard ...

    Comments on Terminal Velocity Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 21, 2015
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Feb 15, 2002
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c R

    I know I say this all the time, but... ballnuts.

    I've climbed Terminal Velocity at least 5 times. Although it was not always me leading, I feel like I know the route pretty well; it definitely deserved to be rated S. The books reflect the VS grade and I am somewhat surprised that this review does not reflectsome caution. The crux can be protected by a nest of small nuts, although it is sure pumpy getting them in. Although it's not the crux, you could hit the ledge from the upper 1/4 (10d/11a) if you are not attentive- lots of rope out on a undulating path and a slight distance from your gear with a ledge lurking below.

    It seems to me that T.V. is very height dependent on the upper 1/2 because the footholds either do or don't allow you to reach the good hands. I think that's the crux.
    By david goldstein
    Feb 17, 2002

    I'm somewhat confused by the first comment. The upper part of the route has excellent protection. A cluster of good, small gear can be placed at the start of the crux and a good RP can be placed (admittedly strenuous) in the middle of the crux. This RP is no lower than your feet when the next good gear opportunity arises. I wouldn't argue much about giving this pitch an S, but it should not be a death pitch.
    By Tony B
    From: Around Boulder, CO
    Feb 19, 2002
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c R

    I agree that it's not a death-fall, which I why I said it is S and not VS. With the amount of rope that will be out however, it would be quite possible for a leader to hit the mid-route ledge from one of a few hard moves on the upper section, with rop stretch. This may be only my opinion, but it is supported by the traditional VS rating of the climb.
    By adam brink
    From: Boulder, CO
    Sep 20, 2002
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    I found this challenge of this route to be entirely in the first section, which had [awkward] moves, sketchy protection, and deceptive holds (read: classic!). While the upper section was incredible fun, the protection was excellent and the climbing easy. If you can stem, the upper part is about 10a. Jump on this small gem if you feel comfortable fiddling in gear while hanging less than perfect holds. Enjoy.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Oct 16, 2002

    Hey, I was [Mark's] partner in the [first] ascent, circa 1981, I have done the climb a couple of times since and still think its great fun.

    Alfredo Len
    By Joe Collins
    Nov 10, 2003
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c R

    I agree that this is a fairly sane lead for the Eldo 5.11 climber. You can sew it up through the crux. The hardest move was getting to the large chalked flat hold in the middle of the lower section... after that the pro worsens but the climbing isn't as hard (though still solid 10/10+ or so). I got pro in through this part, but I wasn't terribly confident that it could hold falls... the most 'bomber' nut placement on this section is behind a chalked hold that makes a funny sound when you set the nut. I would definitely give this a very solid 'S' rating due to the marginal nature of the pro. As for the upper part of the route (is it just me or does this seem just as hard as the crux?), you'd have to really screw up to hit the midway ledge. If you're up for leading it, I would recommend climbing Hand Crack first, and then suss out the pro options on the way down.
    By Anonymous Coward
    Dec 15, 2003

    This is a really great climb mainly because you have two very different types of climbing in the same pitch. The beginning is fairly sporty and strenuous and the upper half is amazing stemming. I do think that this climb deserves a solid S, but probably not a VS. The top is very safe with locker stoppers. The bottom however, can be pumpy to hang out and fire in a bunch of RPs. The pump from placing gear makes the upper portion feel harder than it is, but stick with it, it is not that bad. I got in what appeared to be a locker offset after pulling the crux, but it must have been behind the same loose sounding flake the above comment mentioned. I really would not like to fall in the crux of this climb. An excellent route if you're solid at the grade.
    By Fred Vanden Bergh
    Dec 22, 2003
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    Very fun route, and I agree its tricky to pro - I'd give it an S rating. Considerably easier than Foxtrot, a bit easier than Parallels, so I'm going with 11b...whatever...its fun. The hardest single crux protected pretty well for me, but the section above, up to the midway ledge, was harder for me to fiddle in good pro, so I ran it out. A fall would have been baaad.

    I'll agree with a previous post: I also felt the pump from the first section while doing the upper half, but it is easier (10) and protects well with stoppers.

    I think its really satisfying to do a route with this blend of technical moves and technical protection -- that's why it merits 2 stars in my book (despite the big, momentum-breaking ledge).
    By M. Morley
    From: Sacramento, CA
    Feb 22, 2004
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

    The upper section might be a bit easier for those of us with small hands. Where as I could get some purchase with my fingertips, my partners (both bigger than me) had no such luck and were forced into laying back the arête. Still, the upper section is probably solid 10+ demanding wide stemming and finesse. Three stars.
    By Darren Mabe
    From: Flagstaff, AZ
    Feb 23, 2004

    Ahhh c'mon, I can still fit some pinkies in up there. Stem!
    By XOG
    Apr 17, 2006

    I just tried this (on tr) and in terms of pure difficulty of climbing found the upper section to be much more difficult than the lower section. I had a really hard time using the stems to gain enough reach to get to the good finger lock. Really fun climbing throughout the entire climb though.
    By Brian Weinstein
    Apr 20, 2006

    I'd agree with the crux of the route at the classic Eldo stembox up high. It'll be more challenging for those of a shorter nature.
    By Bob Rotert
    Nov 13, 2008

    For the upper section of the lower crux, it seems kind of ridiculous not to place some pro in the Handcrack climb on the right when you can just reach right over to it. Just need a long sling to keep from getting rope drag. This will keep you from taking a "Terminal Velocity" braking fall or falling onto some marginal RPs.

    But if you want to make this climb more serious than it needs to be I guess you could avoid this.

    Except for the gear fiddling issues on the lower crux section, the hardest climbing, to me, did seem to be the upper corner. Enjoy!
    By Kirk Woerner
    Aug 3, 2010

    It's funny how many different opinions there are about what's hard on this route and why. I'm tall, so although the bottom had worse protection (kind of crappy rock), I reached up high and just got a left hand that I bet others would have to climb to. That would be dangerous (R not X) in my opinion. I felt like my height actually hurt in the corner above, because although I could reach things (like the final finger lock) easier, my stem has to be way wider or farther down. The bulge on the left wall you have to stem over ends up being higher on my body for me. I always have problems with corner stems like this, because to get enough purchase, my wide stem puts me far away from the hands. Alternately, a narrower stem has much less purchase. It also puts my feet lower which in this case is a minus.
    By 1rsties4life
    From: CO
    Oct 15, 2012
    rating: 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a PG13

    Redpointed this yesterday as my first real Eldo project.

    A helpful note for those aspiring to lead this gem: there is a great RP placement (largest size RP) just above the sketchy flake above the crux. It fiddles in a horizontal and hangs out halfway but is in solid rock and should hold a fall.

    If the run out above the crux has stopped you from leading this, find this RP and you will feel much more comfortable on the sharp end. It needs to be a BD RP though because of the accelerated taper. A nut won't do.

    Great route, looking forward to more projects like it.
    By Ryan Kempf
    From: Boulder, CO
    Apr 11, 2014

    The gear I found for the crux section was really good, although small and fairly spaced apart. I used a blue TCU, yellow C3, #3 BD straight wire and a #5 offset (RP) to get to the ledge halfway up the route.

    Fishing in the #3 wire takes a bit of time, but the hold you're on is good, and once you get it in there, it's Bomber. It's nice to have that piece @ your waist making the 5.11 moves.
    By Mark Rolofson
    Jun 21, 2015
    rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c R

    One of my old favorite Eldo gear routes. The actual first ascent date was November 29, 1980. We originally did it as a 2 pitch climb, since there is a big ledge in the middle. I led the first pitch (5.11 R), & Alfredo Len led the second pitch up the dihedral (5.10). We later learned that Eric Doub had already led the second pitch in August 1980, via an easier, indirect start to avoid the 5.11 first pitch.
    The upper dihedral can be climbed using holds on the arête to the right (5.10b) or climbed in the dihedral, avoiding the arete (5.10d/11a).
    After our first ascent, I normally led the route as one pitch. Most of the gear on the 5.11 climbing is bomber (even before small cams). It gets exciting hanging on a jug at the top of the bulging section where a #2 RP protects hard moves to get stood on this jug. Then the climbing eases off, but gear is still tiny. I remember using a sling made of nylon shoelace that would fit behind a small horn placed while standing on the jug.

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