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The Godfather 

YDS: 5.11a/b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c PG13

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 800', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.11a/b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c PG13 [details]
FA: Bernard Gillett & John Gillett, 2003, TR BG, 2000.
Page Views: 177
Submitted By: David A. Turner on Aug 22, 2008

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Bill Briggs & Jon Krakauer at the base of the tips...

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Athough I gave this route 3 stars for overall quality, that is because it starts with the first two pitches of Arrowplane, which are good, but not outstanding IMHO. If Godfather were a stand alone route, it would easily merit four stars because the last two pitches are superb.

Pitch 1: Climb the first pitch of Arrowplane. Good beta I got for finding this pitch was to look for a shallow dihedral left of the prominent water streak. 5.8+ R; 180'.

Pitch 2: Climb the second pitch of Arrowplane. 5.9-; 150'.

Pitch 3: Start up the third pitch of Arrowplane. After the undercling, head up left to the prominent, right-facing dihedrals. Start up the rightmost dihedral, and then step into the left dihedral to its top. Step left again into cracks leading to a large ledge. 5.9+; 195'.

Pitch 4: Climb the crack to the right of the ledge, which peters out to face climbing protected by two bolts to a two bolt anchor (slightly sporty). 5.11a; 100'

Pitch 5: Climb the traversing tips crack (5.11a/b, good gear) to the continuous, flaring hand crack (solid 5.10). At its end, continue up to the overhangs. Climb the first, smaller overhang on its right side, hand traverse the second larger overhang to its left end, and then climb back right to the top of the wall (5.8+ R). 160'.


This route is on the sunny south face of Arrowhead. We looked for the arches that comprise Ithaca, et al, aiming for their lowest spot. After finding the shallow dihedral left of the prominent water streak that marks the first pitch of Arrowplane, the rest was easy.

An obvious landmark for the route is the "J Crack" of the last pitch. It is easy to spot, waaay up high on a golden granite shield of rock.

Descend the South Ramp.


Lots of wired stoppers, from RPs on up. Double cams from smallest through number 2 Camalots. One number 3 & one number 4 Camalot. QDs and a good number of long slings. I recommend a 70 meter rope given the length of some of the pitches.

Although this route has some R climbing on it, if you are competent for the crux pitches the runouts will feel PG-13. However, as always, exercise good judgment.

Photos of The Godfather Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Bernard Gillett leading the 5th pitch.  The crux i...
Bernard Gillett leading the 5th pitch. The crux i...
Rock Climbing Photo: John Gillett on the gorgeous knobs of the 4th pitc...
John Gillett on the gorgeous knobs of the 4th pitc...

Comments on The Godfather Add Comment
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By Dan Brockway
From: Boulder
Aug 24, 2008

I thought the climb was great! The south-facing exposure gives Arrowhead a longer season than some of the other popular areas in the park. On the last pitch I thought the gear was adequate but small and a little hard to place. Both of the last two pitches are great but full value at 11a and 11b. (Maybe it was just the altitude.) In general, I thought the whole route had sort of an old school feel to it with adequate gear but a few spicy sections to keep you on your toes.
By Bernard Gillett
Aug 24, 2008

Some extra tidbits:

The full name of the route is "The Godfather" (my brother John is Godfather for our four daughters). The FA was by Bernard and John Gillett, 2003, though I had top roped it all the way back in 2000. Jason Seaver also helped out, enduring a storm while we finished hand drilling the bolts (a week before the FA). The third pitch ends on a large ledge with a boulder that is shown in the topo on p. 138 of my High Peaks guide -- this is the same belay spot for Crooked Arrow. The right-facing dihedrals that drop down from the right side of that ledge shown in the topo: those are the corners mentioned by David, though my topo doesn't show the full extent of them. Extend these corners down to the circled 6 in the topo, and you'll have a good topo for the route (you could also draw in a left-leaning crack about 1/2 inch long that leads from the middle of the now-extended corners to the belay circle on the ledge -- that's where you "... Step left again into cracks leading to a large ledge"). The fourth pitch begins on Crooked Arrow and then goes up right: draw two bolts next to the "5.11a TR" label to connect up to the J-crack, which has a two-bolt belay at its base. We thought the crux was 5.11b (labeled as 5.11a on my topo).

Amazing route: I gave it 3 stars (on a 0-3 star scale). And Dan is right about the S Face of Arrowhead: that bowl soaks up late summer sun, and I've climbed there comfortably on warm days in late September.

I know I've got a couple nice pics of the last two pitches; will post them up if I can find them.
By tom selleck
Aug 16, 2009


How the heck do you find the time to climb so much with FOUR kids?? Inspiring!
By Bernard Gillett
Aug 16, 2009

Actually we have 5 kids now; our son was born in 2005. To answer your question: It's largely a function of my job. I don't have to work in the summer (and my 9-5 friends will tell you that I don't have to work during the school year, either). As it turns out, I've chosen to work a bunch these past few summers (another book--not a climbing guide), but I can do that work on my own schedule (e.g. after the kids have gone to bed). My lovely wife also contributes, as she gives me plenty of opportunity to get my fix as long as I'm up-to-date on the home front. Believe it or not, having a lot of kids helps with time management, or rather forces me to be efficient in the use of my time.

Glad to hear it's inspiring.

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