The Tiger - 1,000' 5.12 10 pitches

A new route at Washington Pass, 40 minutes from the road, and on some of the best rock in the range!
Colin Moorhead on "The Tiger" P3 5.11c

After facebooking about a new route and posting a halfway decent photo I had snapped of Colin Moorhead sending P3, I have gotten several emails from folks visiting the PNW who wanted to climb it, which is great!

So here is the information on a climb up the Supercave Wall / AKA M&M Wall / AKA South face of Pk. 6,978 near Liberty Bell. The climb was reconnoitered on rappel via anchors placed by Erik Lawson and Arden Pete, the crew behind the nearby "Ellen Pea" route. An attempt was made in the general area by our friends Mike Pond and Shaun Johnson, who veered right and stopped on/near the final section of Ellen Pea. Then Colin Moorhead, Max Tepfer and I spent 4 days over two trips climbing, cleaning, bolting, trundling, pruning, and climbing what has become "The Tiger".
Here is the beta.

  • 40 min approach from MP 166 on Hwy 20
  • All belays are bolted - rappel the route
  • 11 pitches
  • 0, 1, or 2 bolts per pitch
  • Can be climbed at 5.11 A0
  • Sustained 5.10+/5.11 with an amazing 5.12 crux (either a .12b? pitch or a .12c? pitch)
On the "L&H" Route - Supercave Wall, Matt VanBiene Photo

Park on the South side of Hwy 20, at milepost 166. This large pullout affords a clear view of the wall and the impossible-to-miss right-side cave. Follow a creek bed, or lightly-timbered rib immediate skier's right of the creek. After 20 minutes, a fixed rope leads up and left from the creek bed. Skirt a small section of 5th class before re-entering the gully. One can start on the lowest toe of the clean slab via 75m of bolted slab climbing (.11a), or else follow the creek bed and walk in from the left on the lowest treed ledge of the wall. The lower bolted slab was added by a different party after the Ellen Pea route was established. Water is available here year-round. Expect snow until late July. Crampons and axe may be useful in early season.


For Ellen Pea, L&H - Rappel the 'Ellen Pea' route with 2 ropes. First make a 15m rappel from a slung tree atop the route, trending slightly left to another larger tree, and then make a 55m rappel into the left side of the right cave. From the cave use the bolted belay anchors on the left to make 3 more double-rope rappels. The first of these (the one which exits the cave) is a full 60m and requires a few moves of scrambling to reach the large treed ledge. Walk right, to the bolted anchor above P2 of 'Ellen Pea', and make a 50m rappel down and right, then a final 40m rappel to the narrow ledge at the base. From the base of the routes, one can walk left and descend the gully, or rappel the bolted slab below/right, which is an additional 75m distance, and features 3 bolted anchors.
For The Tiger – Rappel the route with 2 ropes. Rappel 35m from an anchor on the right edge of the highest summit overhangs, angling left to a ledge atop P10 (the flake). Rappel the flake pitch. (30m) Rappel 40m angling hard right (fixed wires for directionals on the strand you WONT be pulling) to the bolted anchor above the 2-bolt hand traverse. Rappel 45m into the cave. From the cave make a rope-stretching 61m rappel reaching the ledge atop P3, and then make a 45m rappel down P3, and a 60m rappel down and slightly right, over the terrain climbed by P1 and P2. From the base of the routes, one can walk left and descend the gully, or rappel the bolted slab below/right, which is an additional 75m distance, and features 3 bolted anchors.

If you only brought one rope but carried approach, shoes, a non-rappel descent can be made via topping out and scrambling down/left on a treed ramp which cuts into the 3rd class gully to the left of the wall.

Ellen Pea 250m 5.11c
FA – Erik Lawson, Arden Pete 2009
Rack – Wires and a double set of cams from tips to #2, single #3. 2x 60m ropes required to rappel

This is one of the best routes in the Cascades. It marked the first reported activity and first modern freeclimbing on the wall. It begins off the far right end of a narrow treed ledge, above an optional (and easily avoidable) bolted 5.11a 2-pitch slab. Expect perfect stone and memorable climbing, with a few sequences that must be “earned” above your protection. An excellent variation to P3 and P4 exists to the right, following the line originally aided in 1970.

P1 From the extreme right end of the ledge follow a left-facing chimney/corner system with hand a finger cracks to a bolted belay just past a small tree. There is an old fixed (off-route) wire in the corner just right of the pitch's start, which could be cleaned up to create an excellent P1 alternative. (40m 5.10a) P2 Finesse up twin cracks out left from the belay, and mantle up to the base of an immaculate finger crack in an arcing corner. Power out from the corner above your pro and delicately follow thin cracks and horizontals back leftward to a bolted belay at the wall's higher ledge. A stellar 2-pitch variation begins directly overhead. (50m 5.10d) P3 Walk 40' left. Climb tan-colored flakes above two small pines, and trend left up into the left-arching corner/roof system. Pull out the roof in a shallow chimney box, and immediately belay at fixed gear. (55m 5.11a) P4 Proceed up the left-angling corner, and move right at two bolts (one visible from the belay). The crux comes between these bolts. After clipping the second, continue moving right before veering up and left into the cave. (20m 5.11c) P5 From the left-hand edge of the cave, a gymnastic finger crack leads into a polished corner. Pass wild huecos and a clean 1” crack in a flake out right, stepping left and belaying at a small, flat ledge with a fixed wire (40m 5.11b) P6 Step blindly around left into a left-facing corner and up towards roofs. Veer right onto a right-trending ramp and corner system which leads to a belay at a huge pine tree. (50m 5.8) P7 A short runout pitch climbs fragile huecos and flakes to the top of the wall. (10m 5.8)

VARIATION “L&H Route” – 2 pitches 5.12b
FA Mead Hargis and Jim Langdon 1970
FFA Blake Herrington 2014
This 2-pitch option, the middle section of the wall's original aid route, follows cracks and flakes which were originally climbed by Langdon and Hargis on the wall's 1970 FA. The lower slabs and portion above the cave of the L&H route would also likely go free. When Lawson and Pete were developing the 'Ellen Pea' route in the 2000s, they repeatedly drooled over this inspiring section, but left it to be freed by someone else, sending out enticing photos labelled “Cracks to the Future”. The pitches described begin from the ledge atop P2 of 'Ellen Pea' and end in the huge cave reached on P4. The first pitch of this variation is one of the best pitches in the Cascades, and is never physically desperate, but is reachy and technical. This would be a very proud onsight.

P3 – Jam the immaculate flake on the left, which begins as 5.10a and gets progressively more difficult, until it peters out as a finger crack. Span right through a short finger splitter and into a shallow, left-facing layback corner, which continues via face climbing to the belay stance. (25m 5.12b) P4 Move up the thin crack and past a bulge (piton) into a left-angling corner. Atop the corner follow rails leftward into the huge cave. (5.10+ 30m)

The Tiger 300m 5.12b ( .12c? direct option)
FA – Blake Herrington, Colin Moorhead, Max Tepfer 2014
Rack – Wires and a double set of cams from tips to #4, single #5, #6. (1 each cams from #1-#6 can be stashed until P10) 2x 60m ropes to rappel.

This is one of the 10 best routes in the Cascades. Colin Moorhead, one of the first ascentionists, has established new-wave classics in the Bugaboos and all over Squamish, yet called it “easily one of his best routes”. It ascends a vertical and overhanging headwall of streaked golden and dark granite with unforgettable positions and immaculate stone. The line was completed with the help of some prior groundwork (rappel anchors, pitons from an attempt) by Shaun Johnson, Eric Lawson, Arden Pete, and Mike Pond. The route was named for the striped flake and offwidth pitch (#9) notable from the highway and even from the summits of the Early Winters Spires. Tiger Belly is also the name of the Colin Moorhead's cat, Squamish's most prolific climbing feline. The route is generally easy to haul a bag on, and much of the rack can be stashed away until P9. Begin in the leftmost of two major left-facing corner systems on the lower slab. There are some rock scars and sawed-off branches marking the start..

P1 A few flake and face moves gain the left-facing corner and easy cracks, which lead up the left-facing system to a bolted belay under an overhang. (20m 5.8) P2 A bold but safe pitch which was lead without the protection bolts in place, the leader should have a good selection of small gear. Begin easily up to the overlap, and turn the roof, clipping a bolt above for your follower. Veer left along the crack line and then pad up a slab to a second bolt. Balance up a short crack and then move left along twin seam rails which lead to big face holds and the anchor. (45m 5.10+) P3 Climb the left-facing corner and flakes above, passing two bolts and a high crux, before reaching the bolted anchor on the broad ledge. (45m 5.11c) An alternate climbs up and right from the belay, reaching the same ledge after 55m of dirty 5.10a P4 Walk left past several snags to a shallow left-facing flake/corner and a cairn. Climb the slabby 5.9 left-facing corner for 10m, and step right to a single bolt, follow flakes (hollow-sounding but tested!) slightly right and then up into good rock, eventually pulling around the arete on the right and onto a slab with a bolted anchor. (35m 5.10c) P5 Climb an excellent finger crack in a corner for 35m to a bolted belay just right of the wall's central (of 3) large caves. (35m 5.11a) P6 Alt: “Eye of the Tiger”: climb straight up out of the cave, passing three low bolts, steep finger locks and one higher bolt at the reachy and powerful crux. Finish via the bolted hand traverse on P7. (40m 5.12c) P6 Step right out of the cave, and clip one bolt, then follow flakes, cracks, and jugs up and right to a bolted belay. (15m 5.10a) P7 Some gear and 2 bolts lead hard left and up through 2-tiered underclinging roofs, to a belay at a small stance just out of view. (15m 5.12b) These pitches, and probably 6,7,8 could all be combined, but the roofs and corner changes would make for some rope drag challenges. P8 Layback up the shallow corner (gear, 2 bolts) then move out left past a larger corner. Hand traverse left on 2 protection bolts, and move up onto a ramp and to the bolted belay. (25m 5.11c) P9 Follow cracks and flakes on steep water-polished stone moving up and left, eventually crossing onto a ramp via some cruxy/balancy pocket climbing. Move up the ramp to a bolted belay. There is a fixed wire here, which is crucial to re-clip the rope strand you wont be pulling as a directional if rappeling this pitch. (35m 5.11b) P10 Make a short 5.10 sequence off the ledge's left end. Then move up and right into the base of the Tiger Flake. Jam and layback up the slightly overhung offwidth flake to a bolted belay, managing your rope drag and big cams. This pitch is one you will never forget. (35m 5.9+) P11 Veer up and right on more featured terrain past a bulge or two, eventually ducking out rightward around a cave/roof to the summit. (40m 5.10a)

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