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Totem Pole Direct 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

Type:  Sport, 1 pitch, 70'
Original:  YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 2,601
Submitted By: ldsclimber on Jan 19, 2013

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (12)
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Totem Pole Direct starts on TNF (same start as the Totem Pole). Climb past the first two bolts then continue straight up the buldge vs heading right Climb over the buldge past three new fixe bolts on steep and juggy terain. It's a little spicey between bolts two and three. Its all there and continue on to the new chains at the top of P1.


Sm-med gear QDs

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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 16, 2017
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Apr 1, 2013

This route used to be done on gear. I can attest to that as that's how I originally did it and I think that I heard or read somewhere that this was a harder way to get to the first anchors than following the original bolt line that wraps right.
By ldsclimber
From: Santan Valley, AZ
Apr 9, 2013

before the direct line was bolted, it was done on tr then cleaned on rappel. some pretty good size blocks came off so it appeard that it had not been climbed before. imho it looked like bolts would be needed or it was basiclly a solo. i am truely sorry that i bolted a line that had been done before in a better style. serious kudos for doing it on gear. if you think the bolts should go ill remove them. no questions asked.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Apr 9, 2013

I did this face to the top on gear. I agree it was definitely very spicy where the bolts are now. I liked the route but since it was done previously on gear the bolts should probably be removed.
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Apr 9, 2013

This is bringing the old and much written about topic of bolting vs. gear to LD. There are so many opinions and perspectives on this, to say nothing of controversies and seriously bad disputes over it all that I am hesitant to weigh in. But I will since this area is so near and dear to my heart. My perspective is that it's just climbing and we're all doing it for enjoyment ... so, let's enjoy! In The Refuge, I've often climbed something entirely on gear, but then have put bolts in where I might not necessarily think they're needed because it's clear that no one else (except Geir and a handful of other climbers) will climb the route without better protection. I think the same is true with this route -- it is unlikely that many, if any, will do the direct route w/o those bolts. I know I did it and Geir did it and I'm sure I remember reading or hearing about someone else doing it that way, but I wouldn't recommend it. So, if the bolts are removed, then the option of doing this fun direct line basically gets shut down. It does get a bit more complicated here from the purist perspective given that others have clearly climbed this w/o bolts, but, hey, perhaps LD can be more about enjoyment than maintaining a hard nosed purist perspective prevalent in other places that get more traffic. Hell, the poor pole is peppered with bolts anyway such that someone can make a wise-ass comment about ... well, I'll leave it there. But, all that said, given all this info, it's probably a good idea to remove the route as a "FA" and simply make note of it as a direct option.
By ldsclimber
From: Santan Valley, AZ
Apr 10, 2013

i agree with both of you. ive put up a few very scetchy r/x routes in the past and then gone back to see bolts on them. it is a badge of honor to know i did it on crap for gear and disheartning that someone didnt ask before they just assumed it hadnt been done because there were no bolts on it. i left the bolts for the reasons given by arjunmh. ive also chopped a route with community support (not in this state) that changed the boldness of a classic route it was near. greir, you guys are buds so if you guys say it should go, im happy to donate the hangers to the ldc cause if you guys get back there before i do. carry on!
By Marcy
From: Tempe/Tuscon, AZ
Apr 10, 2013
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

I am probably guilty of being a hard nosed purist like Arjun refers to. My feeling is that there are many options for safely bolted or otherwise protectable routes in the area already. This route has previously been lead in better style and should be restored to that state....bolts removed and holes patched appropriately.

I'd like to also say nice work to those that developed the east face route on the pole. It has some fun climbing and is a distinct independent line to the summit. I think I recall seeing one drill hole that needs patching. That said, I am sad to see all the new hardware that the pole is now sporting. I think the two routes on the south/southwest aspects do not add much to this very cool and classic feature. Have drill, will bolt, is not necessarily the best option, for this hard nosed purist anyway.
By ldsclimber
From: Santan Valley, AZ
Apr 10, 2013

thanks for your imput. if someone else gets there before i do great. if not then ill do it next time im out there. thanks for the kudos for patho. i disagree about the other routes though. awesome climbing on fruits. imho
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Apr 10, 2013

Thanks all for your insights and willingness to sort through this stuff. Also thanks Aaron for cleaning the death blocks off this route as it definitely made it safer to go up this way.
By Aminda
From: Phoenix, AZ
Apr 18, 2013

Did this route today and really enjoyed it. Personally, we appreciate your efforts as one of "those" climbers who never would have done it without the bolts.
Josh and Aminda
By lou
Dec 2, 2013

Idsclimber; awesome variation to the original!! A better line IMHO. Please dont chop the bolts... nothin wrong with a variation to a standard line. Just cause a competent and bold 5.12 climber (Geir) climbed it once .. doesnt mean its a route. Esp. when climber says it was spicy; which means no one else would ever do it. So thanks. Matter of fact most the faces in lower devils can be climbed trad style with a good knowledge of tricam placement..and cams.. and boldness.. and not afraid of them blowin out when you fall ( seen it ).. that welded tuff is soft stuff.. I would guess even some of your bolted routes in LDE can be trad climbed, Geir. OMG there are at least 3 new bolted routes on the totem... one on the east face.. one on the south corner.. and one which looks like a variation that meets the south corner from the west face!!! Enjoy and relax...

cheers.. lou
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Dec 5, 2013

Hey Lou,

I didn't suggest removing these bolts because I was able to climb it on gear. As you said, any route in Devil's Canyon could be done on gear (or free soloed) given a strong enough climber. We actually put up almost all the lines in LDE on gear and then added bolts where the pro was sketchy or absent.

My suggestion to remove the bolts was based on the fact that this was already an established (albeit obscure) route. Arjun did it before me and others did it before him. I don't think bolts should be added to established routes.

Regardless, I know that this wasn't done deliberately and it's not something I lose sleep over.
By NC Rock Climber
From: The Oven, AKA Phoenix
Dec 12, 2013

Today was my first trip to Lower Devils, and this was my fist route in the area. Both the route and the area are amazing. I cannot wait to return.
By Laurel Arndt
From: Phoenix
Dec 9, 2014

As of yesterday, bolts there and hangers are gone...bummer
By Nate Young
From: Phoenix
May 18, 2015
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R

The bolts should have stayed.

That's great it was first done on gear in a previous effort. I climbed the direct start when the bolts were still there and I felt like it was similar in difficulty to the top of the totem poles original route, just a different style. However, the fact that in no obvious fashion was that FA on gear made public (Could have posted it on MP,, reddit, anywhere accessible to more than a few people in an inner circle), the direct start should have been treated as a variation and bolts should have stayed. Doing the direct variation on gear, even though it was there and done successfully, doesn't correlate with the difficulty grades for the rest of the routes on the totem pole itself. Nor the degree of safety for the climber compared to the other routes on the totem pole.

Having the direct start bolted was a much better variation to the original route, I don't think anyone would argue against that? I've seen people take pretty crazy falls on the traverse around the bulge on the original route and honestly, the original route isn't worth doing because of it. (Just climbed the original route today so I'm not speaking from old memories here). The top of the Totem Pole original route, where gear is needed, is absolutely protectable on really good gear for even weak 5.10a-c lead climbers, but the same could not be said for the direct variation now without the bolts.

The Totem pole is such an iconic spire in LD. The climbing shouldn't be reserved for the most elite. The Totem Pole is getting much more traffic over the past few years it seems. You can't go to LD without seeing 3-4 parties cranking up the new routes and the original. Making the better and safer variation to the original route accessible to everyone is still ethically in-line with the area IMO. Like arjunmh mentioned, throwing some bolts in at key places on a route that was previously lead on gear, to make it accessible to more people has been done in the past. His quote from the previous post:

"The Refuge, I've often climbed something entirely on gear, but then have put bolts in where I might not necessarily think they're needed because it's clear that no one else (except Geir and a handful of other climbers) will climb the route without better protection. I think the same is true with this route -- it is unlikely that many, if any, will do the direct route w/o those bolts." - arjunmh

Take away from this, climbing is changing. Yes, there are badasses still out there that can lead 5.12d X routes on gear. Yes there are climbers who can run circles around everyone that's a weekend warrior who just wants to get out and have fun. If you want that extra spice in your life, don't clip the bolts that are there, simple as that.

Now, without the bolts, only a select few LD climbers are going to be able to experience that direct start on lead. Which is ridiculous and petty.

Don't get me wrong, that bolt that was chopped next to the crack 10 feet from the top, was absolutely warranted. Like I said previously, that last 15 foot section on the original route protects beautifully on minimal gear. So whoever modified the original route itself (not just a variation) was in the wrong.

I think the FA of the direct variation, on gear, should be noted and put online for people to actually access. BUT, the climber of that FA (whoever it was) should have also understood that the bolts could have stayed and gave it their blessing.

Side Note #1: I don't know anyone besides ldsclimber in this thread about bolt chopping, so this wasn't a personal attack on anyone directly. There is no mention to who actually chopped the bolts and I'm not going to make assumptions who actually did it.

Side Note #2: Did the chains on the mid-belay need to get pulled to?? What the heck is up with that? Some people still climb that thing with 50m ropes and need the mid-belay to get down. The chains made the rope pull much cleaner down the north side. Now it's just a set of spray painted black quick links and old carabiners... great job on that one.
By Nate Young
From: Phoenix
May 18, 2015
rating: 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R

Also, after the route was cleaned (prior to bolting) some super nasty choss and boulders were removed. Can this route even go on gear safely anymore??
By manuel rangel
From: Tempe, Arizona
Jan 29, 2016

That's too bad. I am all for bold climbing and have retrobolted some of my routes in this area. I grew with the times and learned more about the medium. Strong climbers can feel ok with crap gear and claim it's fine but that's not a trend I support nowadays.

I would like to hear from the bolt remover and their reasons for pulling the hangers.

My opinion on whether it goes or stays is only an armchair opinion since I haven't lead it on gear. If what Aaron says is true, that he sent some death blocks, that may have been the gear used prior to his bolting, then it's probably even more deadly than before. Thanks purists.
By Tim Heid
From: AZ
Apr 16, 2017
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Thanks to the FA's that put in such hard work to make this area wonderful. Lots of respect of some of the posters above, even the ones I don't know personally. I know the names and they've done massive work to this (and other) areas. Bunch of badasses in my book.

For this route-- my thinking seems to align with Marcy's post above on all counts. If it started on gear, then it should stay on gear. Unless the FA is cool with the bolts of course. We shouldn't reduce routes so every person can climb every route. Plenty of other safer options out there. Shoot, even on this formation alone they exist.

The gear lead is not a bold lead for 'elites' or any other nonsense like that. I found excellent, albeit small gear (set of C3's) or plenty of nuts after the bolts. The only PG move is maybe the bulge above the 2nd bolt, but the holds are giant jugs and the moves are super easy; the gear from there on can be found every 2 feet if you wanted. No move harder than 10a compared to other routes on the TP.

All that said, PO, the original line, and the direct line are all awesome and I'm glad they top out....

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