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Thin Red Line (Free Version) T 

Thin Red Line (Free Version) 

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

   
Type:  Trad, Alpine, 11 pitches, 1100', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.12 French: 7b+ Ewbanks: 27 UIAA: VIII+ ZA: 26 British: E6 6b [details]
FA: Mikey Schaefer, 2008
Page Views: 5,939
Submitted By: Max Tepfer on Jul 25, 2013

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Pitch 1.

Description 

For years this (still) under-appreciated route was one of the go-to routes for northwestern aid climbers looking to cut their teeth. Thankfully for those of us that like to try and climb things with our hands and feet, in 2008, local talent Mikey Schaefer had the vision and ability to unlock a free variation to the one blank pitch. His variation allows the whole line to go free at a relatively moderate grade. While this climb is more or less devoid of steep, clean splitters, it offers pitch after pitch of incredible climbing up intricate crack systems and faces on practically perfect rock.

Notes:
-With fitness and careful rope management, many of these pitches could be combined.

-Very few people have approached this as a free route and it's seen a surprisingly small number of actual red-point ascents. As a result, the grades are still somewhat in a state of flux.

-If you're one of those people that's all about standing in slings, know that no hammers are necessary to climb this route. You can happily leave them at home.

-Also see: thebigwidewest.blogspot.com/20... and cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbt...

P1: This is actually the first pitch of another route, Freedom or Death. Mellow slabbing up discontinuous cracks and bolts. At the anchor step right to another anchor. (the left bolts are FoD) 5.10.

P2: Easy moves lead up to a small roof. The crux is turning the roof with insecure lie-backing. More easy ground leads to a gear belay below a clean dihedral capped by a large roof. 5.11.

P3: Stem and lie-back up the corner on beautiful rock. After this pull a sometimes wet and always wild crux move to establish yourself in the roof and move out left to a bolted anchor at a less-than-stellar stance. 5.11

P4: Continue moving up and left out to the lip of the roof. Step even further left and clip two bolts. (part of FoD) After that, move up and back right to flake that you follow via a hand traverse to a stance and bolts. 5.10.

P5: Crux time. Execute a beautiful, techy traverse right on perfect stone to access a shallow left facing corner. Climb up moderate terrain and ditch your rack (possibly excepting a green alien/red c3) just before the first bolt in the corner. Technical stemming up four bolts leads to stance and another slight crux move to a good hold out left to finish the pitch at anchor bolts. Alternatively, climb slightly higher to a good stance w/medium-small cams. 5.12.

P6: More crux. Believe it or not, you're not supposed to follow the beautiful roof out left to the two bolt anchor. Instead climb straight up the corner on moderate terrain to a small roof. Step right and work up a hanging finger crack towards a large, intimidating roof split by two seams. Figure out the bouldery crux (gear-beta spoiler alert: red C3 w/single lobe facing left is a crucial and specific placement to get through here w/o whipping big on an old, but pretty solid fixed pecker) and finish the pitch up a mellow finger crack. Belay at bolts. 5.12.

P7: More moderate cracks lead up and right to a two bolt anchor on a large ledge-system. 5.10

P8: The last crux. Thin, technical moves on more perfect rock are protected by small gear and fixed heads and pins. Immediately after the crux, step left to a ramp and belay off of gear at a stance at the top of it. 5.11

P9: Fun, engaging climbing up a final corner system leads to a brief thin move in the bitter end of the pitch. Pull the move and mantle onto M&M ledge. Gear belay on the right.

It's possible to rap (trending climber's left) with two ropes from this point. We rapped from a fixed pin and wire. Someone with some old rope and bike tire could rig a better station up and left of this on a large (and bomber) horn. From M&M, work left to good bolts and make four double rope raps to the ground.

Otherwise, step right from the ledge, initially following a left trending ramp up fun ledgy terrain to the top.

Location 

The start's a bit tricky to pick out as there are a lot of random exploratory anchors around the base of the east face. Look climber's right of Liberty Cracks and try to connect the line down from features above... Some mellow snow travel is usually necessary to reach the base.

Protection 

Most of the pitches have a lot of fixed gear most of which is good. Rumor has it that Mikey, on the ffa, updated all the fixed pins and pulled the manky ones.
Single rack from purple tcu to #2 C4, doubles blue tcu to 0.75, small to medium stoppers, (no rps necessary) ~10 QDs.


Photos of Thin Red Line (Free Version) Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 5. The climbers above are at the belay at th...
Pitch 5. The climbers above are at the belay at th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 4.
Pitch 4.
Rock Climbing Photo: Roof traverse that finishes Pitch 3.
Roof traverse that finishes Pitch 3.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up Pitches 3 and 4. The climbers are at th...
Looking up Pitches 3 and 4. The climbers are at th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Starting up Pitch 2.
Starting up Pitch 2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Last half of Pitch 2.
Last half of Pitch 2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron sending Pitch 3.
Aaron sending Pitch 3.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 8. Love being up on the Bell!!
Pitch 8. Love being up on the Bell!!
Rock Climbing Photo: A topo for Thin Red Line.
BETA PHOTO: A topo for Thin Red Line.
Rock Climbing Photo: The pitch to M&M ledge.
The pitch to M&M ledge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Aaron getting his slab on in the final hard pitch.
Aaron getting his slab on in the final hard pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: The easy pitch before the last hard one.
The easy pitch before the last hard one.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down the first crux.
Looking down the first crux.
Rock Climbing Photo: Climber on the crux section of Pitch 6. I don't th...
Climber on the crux section of Pitch 6. I don't th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down Pitch 3 from the belay at the end of ...
Looking down Pitch 3 from the belay at the end of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on Pitch 1.
Climbers on Pitch 1.

Comments on Thin Red Line (Free Version) Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 24, 2017
By blakeherrington
Aug 2, 2013

I like a generic "5.12" grade - both of the 5.12 pitches are body size dependent, but in different ways, and both are going to feel much easier or harder depending on one's strengths so overall it makes for a good climb that requires some tech, some power, some crack skills, and some face climbing. I've climbed this route now with 5 other people and everyone has had their own personal crux somewhere different.

For style points, link P1+2, P3+4, both cruxes (5+6), and then 8+9. This turns the climb into a 5-pitch outing (one those pitches being the 40m 5.9 of P7), and making it possible to achieve the coveted goal of sending TRL without climbing at all in the sun, yet still arriving at East20 Pizza in Winthrop before they close. I haven't linked both crux pitches, but pizza incentive is strong!
By Jon Rhoderick
Aug 16, 2013

thanks for posting Max!
By kerwinl
Jun 24, 2015
rating: 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b

If you climb with a 70M rope, the leader can untie and throw the end down once they are at the belay. This will allow hauling the pack on all the hard pitches.

There is a discrepancy between the topo posted here for the pitch 10 and what the supertopo guide shows. Take the variation shown here (the 5.7 Ramp), the rock quality and climbing is much better, the two variations converge in the blocky chimney above.
By Alexander K
From: The road
Jul 25, 2017

I'm 5'10" with a big ape index and P6 was far and away the crux of the route, it felt like solid 5.12 to me with some bruising falls into the lip of the roof, with the previous pitch feeling more like 5.11d/5.12a. That said bouldering is my weakness and the gear beta given elsewhere is really good and makes repeatedly falling at this crux relatively safe.

Overall the route felt very chill for a Grade IV 5.12 climb as most of the pitches are short and the cruxes are well protected and over quickly. Compared to some other routes I've been on of this length and grade (U-Wall in Squamish for instance) TRL was a relatively quick and relaxed climb. If you want to haul a pack on the 1st crux pitch with a 70m you have to belay at the bolts, otherwise I would highly recommend climbing up to the better stance in the corner.

I also easily trundled a microwave sized block on the 5.10a corner on P7. There's definitely still a bit of loose rock once you get past the crux pitches so pay more attention than I did.
By Mike Brumbaugh
Jul 29, 2017

Absolutely killer line. Every pitch is five star! I would recommend more like 15 draws but otherwise the rack beta is spot on. Never placed close to the whole rack on any pitch but it was nice to have options. The pitch to MM ledge is 10+++. I thought my partner was getting tired with all the gear he placed. Then I followed it and quickly figured out why. Both cruxes are super short and can easily pull thru and then work out the beta. Don't understand why with the abundance of bolts on this route and all over this and neighboring wall that there is a rurp protecting the second crux. I'd say most everyone hangs on this, prays, puts in (the aformentioned) red C3, then gets a bomber #3 then lowers for the send. If the rest of the route -and area- were void of bolts, great, but at this point on the line you've clipped and seen dozens of bolts... Yes I realize I'm fat, old, weak, and scared, but I would say a bolt is in order and would in no way, shape, or form change the character of the climb.

With that rant over, it's still a mega route and a great day in the hills. Rapped with two 60's and found every anchor to be totally bomber with no shenanigans needed. There are myriad options for anchors on the way down all of which have shiny bolts and chains.

If you don't enjoy TRL you should probably quit the sport.
By Max Tepfer
From: Bend, OR
Jul 31, 2017

Mike, I think the reason there are so many bolts on the first 5.12 pitch and none on the second was to maintain the character of the original aid line. (not that many actually climb this as a proper aid climb anymore) The first pitch is a free variation while the second follows the original line of ascent. Also, I'd disagree that most people TR or pinkpoint the crux. When I sent, I went up to the anchor between each burn, cleaned the pitch, and ultimately redpointed. I'm guessing a lot of people do this pitch in good style given how easy it is relative to current climbing standards. I do agree that the beak is a bit of time bomb and will make sussing the moves more difficult when it pops on someone. I guess that's the nature of trying to free old aid climbs.
By michalm
From: Boulder, CO
Sep 5, 2017

This route is as good of a hard free route as any I have climbed on granite. The exposure is pretty gripping even a couple pitches off the ground. The sheer east face of Liberty Bell is almost vertical and drops off dramatically.
Linking P2 & P3 made for a very enjoyable pitch with several 11 cruxes and minimal drag. The stemming corners on P3 and P5 are of superb quality with memorable movement.
I agree with comments that P6 feels harder than the stemming crux on P5. P6 felt like very solid 5.12 on the onsight attempt. It is strenuous, the sequence is inobvious, and gear above the lip is taxing and tricky to place. A red C3 is very useful to avoid falling onto the beak if not aiding. The fixed beak is still in place and seems fine for now, but a single bolt or bomber fixed piece at the lip would really improve the enjoyment of this pitch. A #3 camalot was not worth bringing through the end of P9.

Here is a grade breakdown according to me and my partner:
P1: 10-/10 with 5.8R
P2: 11
P3: 11/11+
P4: 10+/11-
P5: 12
P6: stout 12
P7: 9+/10-
P8: 11+
P9: 10
By Keenan Waeschle
From: Bozeman, MT
Sep 16, 2017

Adding a bolt at the lip of P6 would be in character with the rest of the route and overall improve it. I used a purple metolius and was very not psyched to be pulling that move. I'm sure a red C3 is the better piece, I thought a black totem would have been the ticket. Either way, with the slightly granular rock at that section and the super shitty fall that would result if that piece blew I'd love to see a bolt. Seems superfluous to have to pack a specific cam exclusively to protect the single hardest move of the route.

Aid climbing is dead, bolt the earth.
By Eric Hirst
Sep 18, 2017
rating: 5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b

Fantastic climbing throughout; P5 is stellar. I agree with michalm's ratings on everything except P8, which felt more like 12a to me. Maybe I was just wrecked by then.

I'd certainly clip a bolt at the lip of the P6 crux, but after talking to one local I don't see one going in there any time soon. The other spot that could arguably use a new bolt would be the anchor at the top of P5. Currently there's one good bolt, one funky one, and a small cam placement. This anchor can be bypassed when rapping if you swing over to the better anchor (marked in the topo in Blake's guidebook) a few meters to the left.
By Mikey Schaefer
From: Terrebonne, OR
1 day ago

I don't think a bolt is necessary on p6. I've re-climbed this pitch numerous times after freeing it in '08. The red C3 has actually gotten easier and more bomber over the years. When I climbed it last year the gear felt totally adequate. Even though I do believe aid climbing is dead I don't believe we should be adding bolts to aid climbs. I've always done my best to preserve the original aid experience.

And regarding the bolts at the "anchor" atop pitch 5, this isn't the anchor and was never intended to be (i actually almost pulled the 2nd bolt last year). In my original description I said to belay off of natural gear in the corner at the better stance. These two bolts have only become the anchor since it was noted that way in Blake's book. I'd suggest to move higher up the corner to the better stance.
By TheGiles
1 day ago

I agree with Max and Mikey. There is no need for a bolt at the lip. With the right beta the c3 can be very comfortably placed from below.

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