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West Buttress 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 300'
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Renn Fenton and Don Storjohann, 1964
Page Views: 3,146
Submitted By: AhK on Mar 19, 2012

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (21)
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Richard Goldstone on the crux crack, second ascent...


This classic line has a little bit of everything: blue-collar puff-n-grunt crack climbing, delicate face climbing, and great exposure! All three pitches are stellar!

P1: (5.8++, 120') Start on top of a large boulder and climb the vertical crack system until it ends at a bolted belay.

P2: (5.8, 50') Climb the delicate face past 3 bolts to the horizontal crack and build an anchor. The next pitch starts 15' right, so build your anchor accordingly.

P3: (5.8, 130') Climb far right weakness. Make a couple strenuous moves to get established on the upper face and follow weaknesses to the summit.

Renn Fenton contemplated this stunning line for years before he went for it. He knew he would be alright if he could just get to the face climbing, but was unsure if he could climb the cracks that guard it. On the FA, no bolts were placed on the second pitch, making it yet another impressive lead in Needles history! Bravo, Renn and Don!


Start at the downhill end of the gully between Outer Outlet and Rhinoceros Rock. The gully has a chock stone the size of a house suspended between the two formations. Start on top of the largest boulder at the base of a vertical crack system on the W edge.

Refer to the map on the Outer Outlet page for route location.

One double rope rappel off the SE side will get you down.


Nuts and a single set of cams from micro to 3" with doubles from BD .75 to 2.
Long slings reduce rope drag on p1 and 3.

Photos of West Buttress Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: West Buttress
West Buttress
Rock Climbing Photo: more or less.
more or less.

Comments on West Buttress Add Comment
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By rgold
From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 13, 2012

That second pitch, which I don't think is anywhere near 5.8, was done without bolts for years and years. No bolts at the first belay either.
By Tater Tot
From: Custer, SD
Apr 13, 2012

What about the two bolts on pitch 3? Were they added? I recently did the whole route with a friend without clipping any of the bolts but did use the bolted anchor. I thought 5.8 was a very fair grade for pitch 2 as did my partner. It is possible that the line of retro bolts on pitch 2 didn't follow the original route. Things to me looked a bit larger farther left. But since I was unsure of the route's path I followed the bolts without clipping them.
By Dave Rone
From: Eau Claire, Wis
Apr 15, 2012

I heard about the bolts you're talking about Tater Tot. My understanding is that they protect a new line above the West Butt route.

When I climbed the route, there were no bolts on the first or second pitch, and as rgold says, it was quite a bit easier than 5.8, just a wee bit runout ;-)
By AhK
Apr 16, 2012

Hmm, interesting.. Sounds like it may be appropriate to change the name of this page to West Buttress Variation? Does anyone else have more info?
By rgold
From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 30, 2012

Tater Tot, there were no bolts on pitch 3 either. I don't remember anything that shouldn't have been reasonable without bolts for a 5.8 climber.

As for pitch 2, my guess is that it went further left as you suggested, since without bolts one would obviously choose the most reasonable line. I do remember diagonalling left from the P1 belay and wandering a bit, but can't at this point, more than 45 years later, remember the exact line we took. It was definitely low fifth-class and totally appropriate to leave unbolted for 5.8 climbers.

It sounds as if the bolted way deserves to be called a variation, and if it is 5.8 (and if Needle's standards were respected by drilling on the lead), it would make for a more uniformly difficult route that would become even more of a classic than the original.
By Wilson On The Drums
From: Woodbury, MN
Sep 19, 2014
rating: 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c

can someone please get some pictures put up of this route; it is too good a route to not have pictures up on here. people coming from out of state may want a harder way up than the conn diagonal but easier than the 10's and 11's and this route would fit the bill. it is classic imo and has a ton of variety and should not be missed if you're breaking into the 5.9/5.10 grade on trad. (i say that b/c although this is 5.8 the first pitch is certainly 5.8++ and is not gimme, it is sustained and i had an easier time on three rings for elven kings at 5.9)
By rgold
From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Nov 2, 2014

Picture from the second ascent posted.
By Phil Berggren
Dec 4, 2014

Thanks for that great photo, Rich. Here are a couple more. This is a super line, variation or not.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 1
Pitch 1

Rock Climbing Photo: Pitch 2/3
Pitch 2/3

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