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Speed of Life, The T 

The Speed of Life 

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

Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 265'
Original:  YDS: 5.11b French: 6c Ewbanks: 23 UIAA: VIII- ZA: 23 British: E3 5c [details]
FA: Don Reid and Chris Falkenstein, July 1981
Page Views: 5,414
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Sep 21, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (18)
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P1, Speed of Life. Great fractured alpine granite.


This is an obscure but ultra-classic two-pitch climb on the outskirts of Tuolumne Meadows. It sits by itself (actually there are two or three other climbs of lesser quality) far above Ellery Lake which in turn is just a few miles outside of the park along Hwy 120. Park, cross the dam, and hike up the steep, loose slope to the lowest tongue of rock that is usually guarded by a steep patch of ice/snow. Why did you endure this grueling 45 minute slog for just two pitches?

P1: Ascend a beautiful pitch of crisp, white Sierra granite. The crux is bouldery but well protected with a small cam and some wires. Up higher its nice to have a very large cam to protect some wide cracks, but this section is quite easy. A final, wild move around the corner to the right leads up to a bolted belay. 5.10+.

P2: Climb the long, leaning, overhanging splitter via jams and liebacks. Sandbag 5.11b; outstanding!

Two double-rope rappels from nice ASCA hardware gets you back down. Now, hopefully, the question's been answered.


Single set from 0.2 to #4 Camalots, 3 each 0.75's & #3's, wires, a few draws/slings. A #4.5 Camalot (#5 C4) not mandatory but highly recommended. Two ropes. The route is north-facing and can be chilly in the wind.

Photos of The Speed of Life Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber beginning the 2nd crux pitch of "Spee...
Climber beginning the 2nd crux pitch of "Spee...
Rock Climbing Photo: Start of the 2nd crux pitch of "Speed of Life...
Start of the 2nd crux pitch of "Speed of Life...
Rock Climbing Photo: Crux in the sun. June 2015
Crux in the sun. June 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: The route goes up the obvious thin crack and then ...
BETA PHOTO: The route goes up the obvious thin crack and then ...
Rock Climbing Photo: "Speed of Life" and approach. Photo by B...
BETA PHOTO: "Speed of Life" and approach. Photo by B...

Comments on The Speed of Life Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 17, 2017
By Michael Sokoloff
From: Spokane, WA
Jul 11, 2007

In my top 5 climbs of all time. Amazing crack climbing on immaculate high sierra granite in as scenic a spot as one can imagine. It takes a 45-minute slog to get to the base, but it is well worth the time and energy expended. Other than the altitude factor, I disagree with the assessment that the second pitch is a sandbag at 11b. It did not seem any harder or easier than 11b to me.
By john strand
From: southern colo
Jun 12, 2008

WAY GOOD this climb would be worth an even longer slog. Try to wait though, it can get pretty cold up there.
A total classic anywhere !!!

By Ben Lepesant
Mar 31, 2009
rating: 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c

sooo classic. I agree that the 11b is normal for the grade.
The second pitch is one of the best pitches I've ever done.
By snowhazed
From: Oakland, Ca
Jul 21, 2010

WOW- maybe the best climb at the grade in the meadows? Blues Riff competes to be sure, but......

No problem rapping with a single 70
By Mark Melvin
From: Joshua Tree
Jul 24, 2013

Nice route, sure. Comparable to the best in Yosemite, like Astroman, or Blues Riff, not quite. Not a sandbag at all with surprising hand jam rests on crux pitch. Can't see doing this with one set of cams though. I'd bring just a few stoppers, handful of micros (very small), then 2 each to #3, one #4, and triple up on .5, .75, and 1. Also, nice hike workout, beautiful place, no one there.
By Ben J.
From: Beacon, NY
Aug 17, 2013

The first pitch was really fun, the second pitch was unforgettable and amazing. I thought when I got to the base that there was no chance that hiking up there with a mild hangover was going to be worth it. After climbing it, I think I would do at least 2x the approach to get to something of similar quality. Second pitch doesn't have any single move that is that hard, but it is unnaturally sustained.

We went left early on the approach and dealt with a lot of loose sand. Much of this is unavoidable, but it might be worth a try to stay on the volcanic scree/talus on the right until you are forced to head left.
By The Other James
Jul 1, 2014

1. Yes it's that good.
2. We rapped with just a single, pretty-new 70m. First rap got us hanging two feet *above* the ledge at the top of the first pitch, and the second rap to the starting-ledge ended with a couple feet to spare. YMMV with an older rope!
3. Supertopo says glancing sun, but when we did it at the height of summer (June 30th), the first pitch was in the sun from before we started hiking (8AM) until sometime around noon. Second pitch remained shaded.
By Eric Fjellanger
Sep 19, 2014

So good.

Our 70 was pretty far short, I'd encourage you to just bring a tag line.
By snowhazed
From: Oakland, Ca
Jun 19, 2015

Avoid the up hill slog by linking up with third pillar- the descent into ellery bowl after topping out third pillar is quite obvious. Helps to have two cars for the aftermath
By Bruce Morris
From: Belmont, CA
Jul 13, 2016

snowhazed: How do you advise linking up "Speed of Life" with the "Third Pillar Route"? Climb "Third Pillar" and then descend to "Speed of Life"? How exactly do you do that? It sounds like you could top-out on the "Third Pillar" and then angle down and north into Ellery Bowl instead of descending down Glacier Canyon. Would be nice if you drew a map or something like that.
By DennisL
From: Bishop, CA
Oct 14, 2016

Fantastic climb and the approach isn't all that heinous: 30-45 minutes.
80m cord gets you all the way down in two raps. Pretty confident a 70m will not make the first rap without shenanigans.
I liked Mark Melvin's rack, though you could certainly skip the triples.
By Zac Creager
From: Lee Vining, CA.
Sep 7, 2017

Does anyone know if getting to the top of the second pitch anchors from the descent path is possible if one wanted to rope solo the second pitch?
By EJoe
From: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Sep 17, 2017
rating: 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c

Zac, you'd need to down scramble some pretty exposed 4th/easy 5th to get to the anchors. Just make sure you know their location from above, they're 15+ feet below the upper platform.

Regarding difficulty, I actually found pitch 2 slightly harder than Astroman's enduro corner, mainly because the rests aren't as "restful."

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