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The Witch
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The Nautilus 

YDS: 5.12 French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E6 6b R

   
Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 400', Grade II
Original:  YDS: 5.12 French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E6 6b R [details]
FA: Tony Yaniro
Page Views: 1,043
Submitted By: Nelson Day on Aug 31, 2016

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looking down the third pitch from the "eagle&...

Description 

This climb hosts an incredible amount of sustained climbing in an awesome position. The first stemming/fingers pitch is a real gem and sets the mood for the climbing ahead. If nothing else, the first pitch alone is worth the hassle of getting to this climb and can be done by itself. This climb is quite serious in nature due to the last pitch which requires leading far above your protection with a ledge fall consequence. We approached this climb as an adventure climb with very little beta; read on if you would like to hear some beta, or go climb it without reading any of it! Just be aware of the seriousness of the route. This route is unquestionably rated R due to the ancient protection and seriousness of the last pitch run out (however, the crux pitch protects beautifully).

Approach
Down scramble between the Sorcerer Needle and the Witch Needle until you reach the notch between the Witch and the Necromancer (skier’s left). There is a huge pine tree at the base of the notch. Scramble up the gully (3rd and 4th class) between the Witch and Necromancer until you arrive at a gap/opening you can see through. From here, either rope up and lead very run out low 5th class terrain (lots of stair type knobs and upper flake system) directly to climbers left from the notch opening, or solo up with all of your gear until you reach a vertical face on the Witch Needle. From here, down climb to climber’s right and go around the corner to a nice platform. From here, you will be able to look up and see most of the climb.

Pitch 1
Crux of the route, 110 feet long. 30 feet of sustained 5.12 stemming with a hero 5.11+ fingers/layback move to gain a #1 hand crack. The original topo says 5.12 fingers at the top of the stemming, but me and my partner both agreed the stemming section of the first pitch was the hardest part. (Your method may vary) I climbed on the right side of the first formation off of the belay (following the topo) but believe the 5.10 finger crack in the corner straight up off of the belay is the way to go. The anchor of this pitch consists of two fixed nuts with tat and a new ½” bolt. If you plan on bailing from the first pitch, I would recommend bringing some new webbing to replace the tat.

Pitch 2
Again about 100 feet long. From the belay, work up 15-20 feet of 5.9 face climbing with very thin pro to a 15 foot section of squeeze chimney. Not much pro is to be had inside the chimney, but you can get some great gear at the top of the chimney for the transition into stemming. Work up the 5.11b stemming section with great protection for 60-70 feet and then follow two ancient rusty ¼” bolts out right over 8 feet of 5.11+ terrain. This dumps you onto a decent stance for belaying your follower up. The anchor again consists of a single new ½” bolt and a thin cam/backup placement (green alien).

Pitch 3
Step back across the 5.11+ face moves and re-establish yourself in the corner. Stem up for around 20 feet until the 5.10 face starts to look more inviting. I found this section to be quite mental with very thin pro (RP’s), ancient rusty quarter inch bolts and a huge death block perched above you for most of the pitch. After the 5.10 face, more stemming on bird shit covered rock up to an intermediate anchor above the huge death block. I resisted the urge to layback off of the detached corner column (due to the death block perched/mostly attached to the top of it), but it seems to be pretty stable. There was a gigantic eagle’s nest at the intermediate belay. This is a gear only belay.

Pitch 4
Work your way up the squeeze chimney at the belay for about 15 feet. Transition into 5.10 stemming, eventually finishing up the right side. Awkward transition to clip a new 3/8” bolt. Pull an improbable 5.11+ move onto a thin layback rail and stand up. Move up the layback rail for about 15 feet into R rated territory on lichen covered dirty rock. Pull another insecure move onto a huge ledge. Gear anchor.

Decent
Continue up easy terrain to the top of the Witch Needle. Rappel off of the fixed anchor (bolted belay with rappel rings). Single rope rappel from here. I typically down climb after the first rappel, but there is a second rappel set up available.

Location 

Upper east face of the Witch Needle

Protection 

We took a double rack of aliens from black to red, double c4 camalots from 0.75 to #3, a set of C3's (including the 000 and 00), DMM offset brass nuts (RP's), a set of regular nuts, 12 slings, and a 80m rope (a 70 would work just fine/still allow bailing)


Photos of The Nautilus Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: rusty old bolt on 3rd pitch
rusty old bolt on 3rd pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up at the death block and rusty old 1/4&qu...
looking up at the death block and rusty old 1/4&qu...
Rock Climbing Photo: approach gully between Witch and Necromancer
approach gully between Witch and Necromancer
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up at the third pitch
looking up at the third pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Tyler feeling all the stemming
Tyler feeling all the stemming
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down the easy 5th class approach pitch
looking down the easy 5th class approach pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up at the 5.12 business on the first pitch
looking up at the 5.12 business on the first pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down at the 2nd pitch from the anchor
looking down at the 2nd pitch from the anchor
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down from first pitch anchor
BETA PHOTO: looking down from first pitch anchor
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up at the second pitch
looking up at the second pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up the first pitch
looking up the first pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: looking across at the down climb to get to the sta...
looking across at the down climb to get to the sta...
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up the 5th class approach pitch
BETA PHOTO: looking up the 5th class approach pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: looking up at the last pitch
looking up at the last pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: old 1/4" button head bolts protecting the 5.1...
old 1/4" button head bolts protecting the 5.1...
Rock Climbing Photo: top of the climb
top of the climb
Rock Climbing Photo: Tyler transitioning out of the squeeze chimney int...
Tyler transitioning out of the squeeze chimney int...
Rock Climbing Photo: how I felt after the climb
how I felt after the climb
Rock Climbing Photo: stemming on the 2nd pitch
stemming on the 2nd pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: third pitch anchor
third pitch anchor
Rock Climbing Photo: 2nd pitch dihedral
BETA PHOTO: 2nd pitch dihedral

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