Freerider Beta Share

 (If you're here for beta to help your climb of Freerider, and not to read the account of my climb of Freerider, scroll halfway down.)

This spring I got a chance to climb in Yosemite for a week following a family trip to California. The summary is that I managed a lifetime climber's goal of freeclimbing (the easiest route up) El Cap with a friend (this was my second attempt, Scott's First and we pre-stashed some food and water just above Heart Ledges before climbing the route in 4 days).  I didn't climb much in 2020 with COVID and life stuff, but built a garage Moonboard last Thanksgiving and I was curious to see what some real rock felt like again after fingery indoor limit bouldering for the first time in my life. Luckily my family reunion time in California coincided with the end of a work contract for my longtime pal Scott Bennett, who had been building TV show sets in the LA. We decided to try Freerider, the upper pitches of which neither of us had seen before. Scott and I have climbed together all over the world and across the USA and Canada for more than a decade, but never in Yosemite, so it was a real treat to get to team up on this famous objective in the center of American climbing. Scott had done the Salathe as his first big wall and first Yosemite adventure, circa 15yrs ago. I had climbed the first ~85% of the route in 2018 with my pal Nathan Hadley before bailing from where Salathe and Freerider separate for the final pitches. Scroll down for some Freerider beta that isn't ubiquitous elsewhere, including my own personal grade suggestions, bivy ledge reviews, gear beta, etc. Sorry to ruin your onsight. 

Full Story: Scott and I climbed Freerider, the now famous easier variation to the Salathe Wall, which is ~31 guidebook pitches and has a crux of either a short .12d stemming corner, or a left-traversing ~v7 boulder problem (given .13a as a 3 bolt pitch). We pre-stashed water and food on a ledge about 1/3 of the way up, accessed (mostly) via the quasi-permanent fixed lines running up a blank slab below Heart Ledges. Scott hadn't ever tried free climbing any of the pitches, and I'd tried/done most of them 3 years prior. Together we once practice climbed the relatively relaxed first 10 pitches (Freeblast) while my family was still in the Park. Freerider is the easiest freeclimbing route up El Capitan, but still one of the longest climbs in the country and in addition to the crux it includes a couple 5.12 pitches and a couple physical 5.11 offwidths. Our ascent took us a bit less than 4 days and involved 4 bivies using natural ledges. We began the first day in the evening and finished up the last day around lunch time. This allowed us to climb just ~5 pitches/day following our evening ascent of Freeblast (the first ~10 pitches). It took a lot of luck with the weather and lack of crowds for us to fit things into my pretty slim timeline between family leaving ahead of me, and me needing to get back home. The difference of a few lucky (or not) breaks on a couple days reinforced how contingent many climbing accomplishments are, especially when travelling.

When my friend Nathan Hadley and I made an April attempt in 2018, we had colder and windier weather (30s high on the wall, with wind and thick cloud cover) and 3 pitches had run with water. Nathan and I were both sending the route up to the Enduro corner with Nathan falling just once on the crux, and me following it cleanly after probably 10 quick-succession attempts. Sadly, we both fell trying to lead the Enduro (I fell liebacking just below the anchor while climbing in fleece pants and jeans plus a hooded puffy, stocking cap, and 3 other long sleeve layers.) With a warmed up body and beta I toproped the pitch cleanly and hoped to continue albeit it with a large asterisk if neither of us lead this 2nd-hardest pitch. Nathan wasn't motivated to attempt to redpoint it either, and didn't want to try and follow it, so we bailed. I've believed that with warmer and dryer conditions or more determination we could have finished the route, so I've had it in my mind ever sense. But after climbing the final few pitches with Scott, it is certainly possible they could have shut us down as Nathan and I were both wet from the Sewer pitch, our rope was wet, and the long exposed final belays would have been frigid between difficult climbing. One benefit of the bad weather on that attempt was that Nathan and I mostly had experienced the wall to ourselves and I had now done all but the final 6 pitches.

Scott and I experienced some marginal weather of a different sort, and we also had the wall entirely to ourselves until encountering folks ascending up as we rappelled from the summit. 

Day 1:  I had just a few days before needing to to return home to Washington, so we began on a day which was a calm sunny 88 degrees but with increasing clouds, showers, and cooler temps forecast. We were still sore from pre-hauling our water and food up fixed lines during the heat of an afternoon 2 days prior (Scott doing about 90% of the hauling labor). So rather than start super early AM and sacrifice sleep (plus be forced to fester all afternoon on an oven-like ledge 800' up) we spent the day chugging water and sitting in the river until I began leading my block of the climb shirtless and still sweating at 5:30pm. I lead the first 4 guidebook pitches, Scott lead the next 4, and we were simulclimbing up the 90m of 5.8 terrain atop Freeblast to west end of Mammoth Terrace by 8:30. Unfortunately our headlamps were with our stashed bag on a ledge 400' away, but I had grabbed a tiny Petzl E-lite from my car at the last second and I handed it to Scott to finish leading the simulclimb then downclimb 130' from Mammoth to Heart Ledge while I climbed and belayed "by braille".  I was alone atop Freeblast in blackness shouting down to Scott who had accidentally downclimbed 10m too far, waking up 2 aid climbers already bedded down for the night on a lower ledge. Shouting into the windy darkness below didn't produce reliable communication between anyone and I didn't think I could throw a rope end down for Scott to reach even if I were able to get him to untie from the rope and tie our e-Lite to its end for me to pull up first.  So I rappelled the fixed line between the 2 ledges rather than downclimb the blocky ~5.9 section with no light or belay. Scott re-ascended 10m properly to Heart ledge and met me, and then just a single pitch remained between us and our sleeping bags. Skipping this downclimb in the dark (or choosing to not climb up and back down it after meeting Scott and getting our E-Lite) is an obvious asterisk on my ascent. From there, Scott went first and quickly sent the evening's final pitch with a tiny headlight to illuminate the 4 key holds (this pitch is basically 5.10b V4 slab boulder) and luckily there was some old mystery rope between these anchors too, so he clipped the E-Lite to a locker and slid it down the mystery rope to me on Heart Ledge to use. I cleanly followed the pitch on self-belay as Scott broke out our sleeping kits and we were soon bedded down for the night on Lung Ledge.  

Day 2: We didn't bother setting wakeup alarms since our schedule had us climbing just 4-6 guidebook pitches a day. On day 2 we hauled a bag and wanted to finish up by climbing the Monster Offwidth in the shade, which meant before 11:30AM. The first time up this section of wall I had been surprised how FAR one climbs down to begin the Hollow Flake pitch. I'd also forgotten how hard/tricky the very start of the pitch is, though maybe it was because cruxy blind downclimbing moves are a strange way to start the day. I had lead the Hollow Flake previously, and did so again, placing no pieces but walking up a borrowed #7 cam which made the climbing feel much more relaxed. On the prior outing Nathan and I had lost a #6 camalot into the void of the giant flake when Nathan had untied from one end of the rope and retied into the other while transitioning from cruxy downclimbing to easy upclimbing. With the cam itself no longer clipped to either rope, the #6 in a tipped-out spot had been bumped loose and fallen to its demise in the gutter of El Cap. After Scott did the downclimb (belayed through a carabiner we left behind at the anchor) I untied from my end and lowered it down to him so he could up-climb the hollow flake itself. I lead off again through an easy runout chimney pitch, then Scott lead the next 2 pitches quickly (follower microtraxing, and leader hauling.) We were soon at the Monster, which Scott styled onsight, finishing just before the sun came around the corner. He took just a #6 from the belay, then tagged over some water, a #5, a #7, and a couple QDs at a bolted pedestal 1/4 of the way up. I had lead this pitch the prior outing and both times was glad to have a neoprene sleeve on my left knee and left elbow. We both wore them again (sending them down the tag line from leader to follower) and I think they are especially helpful if your pants or jacket are a lightweight "technical" fabric rather than canvas or denim. Scott set up the (now much heavier) haul, since it included both bags and all our gear, water, and food. Since the pitch begins with a ~10m diagonal downclimb, it requires belaying rather than microtraxing, and as I took rests at 3 spots on the pitch, Scott would resume hauling as I watched our gear getting drug up the now-vertical wall 20' to my right. I lead the final short OW/stem pitch to the alcove and we made some lunch and called it a day. ~20 hours after starting up we were halfway up the wall camping in the empty alcove with plenty of food, water, and enthusiasm.

Day 3: I woke up sore in weird and little-used core and hip/thigh muscles from the bizarre wrestling match of wide climbing, and from a night of sleeping in an inverted hammock position, with my waist higher than my head or feet. I should have brought a more plush thermarest to pad out those kind of things on the rock ledges. I lead the block of 3 pitches up to the crux, where we planned to take turns trying the boulder problem. The first pitch I've seen uncharitably rated 5.9, and it's not actually shown on most topos. I'd call it 5.11- and blue collar and noticed it is shown and rated .11a in the new Yosemite Big Walls book. It's 50m and requires a generous rack and running it out to start in order to avoid rope drag. Don't step foot on El Cap Spire but stay to the right up the corner with flakes. The next pitch is a very soft 5.10d (Euro Huber grade for perfect hands in a corner) and I found the 3rd pitch ( called .12a or.11c R, but probably more like 5.11c w/5.10R) much more pleasant this time around, as it was dry and not as cold, and I knew the rack beta and remembered some moves. Overall this section seems to confuse people about the easiest freeclimbing path, and it's worth figuring out where to go in advance. Scott followed cleanly and soon we were at the Boulder Problem (V7? .13a?). He went up first to hang draws and started working the pitch. I had written down my sequence from my first outing with Nathan and Scott was trying it as well as some other beta that might be tall-person appropriate. The only real difference between my beta (I'm 5'8" w/normal reach) and the more "tall" beta is I never match the left-hand thumb undercling, and I step my right foot past (and under) my left foot after I grab the sloper. The crux is the reachy karate kick while pressing off a sloper at the left end of the traverse, and I find that turning my left palm down into a press/mantle really helps. I wore both puffies to belay as Scott tried various moves and positions, as it was probably in the high 40s and breezy, with rain clouds building. Scott took a rest and I tied in, first just warming up with a few moves here and there as I brushed holds and retried the sequences. I soon took off a coat and tried it from the belay (I think toproping from the anchor) and did every move up to the Karate kick, where I fell. I took a rest and let Scott keep working it. He kept having his left foot slip off during the left-hand move to the thumb undercling, and perhaps this move is easier for shorter people who can perch more on their right foot. He lowered off the crux bolt after sticking the individual moves multiple times and I quickly tied to his end and started up, wearing a hooded fleece, softshell, and light puffy, relaxedly toproping the first few meters. The cold rock felt grippy and I was soon hanging from the matched sloper, foot pointed left, crux bolt clipped, and ready to try my semi-mantle into a karate kick. I palmed in and down with my left hand, smashing jacket cuffs against the rock. I turned out my right hip, brought up my right foot, hollered an angry yell, and kicked the wall hard. My foot stuck and I kept pressing hard off the sloper, spanning out to latch the edge with a whoop of joy. I carefully clipped a green camalot after a few meters and then cautiously finished up the 30' of .10- jugs to the anchor - then lowered to brush holds while thinking of things I could do to help Scott send. I settled in to belay and let Scott go at it, willing to live with my asterisk of toproping the start of the pitch. Scott attempted the moves and sequences for another few minutes, but still wasn't reliably able to keep his feet on during the leftward traverse. The threatening rain clouds made themselves known as fat drops began hitting our helmets. We fixed our climbing rope and rapped to the alcove, our haul line had already been left tied to the first pitch above the ledge. We had brought a silnylon tarp that we set up into a pretty good crosswording and Ramen shelter during the afternoon, and Scott managed to download and solve (via smartphone) one of the greatest crosswords of all time as the rain fell. 

But foolishly we had gotten optimistic that evening thinking things had cleared (I was beneath the tarp in the cramped cave space in the Alcove ledge while Scott was on his 1-person inflatable pad in the open when nighttime rains started and stopped and started again, requiring lots of midnight shenanigans in order to keep semi dry.) We rousted ourselves in the AM having spent the prior 18 hours lounging, but with very little sleep achieved. 

Day4: Scott was determined to try the crux again for a while and then continue regardless of outcome, so we packed up most of our stuff into 1 bag, and used our in-place rappel rope to return to the boulder problem, hauling via 1:1. After 30 minutes of fairly demoralizing attempts, he was close to calling it quits until I again suggested he check out the Teflon Corner crux option somewhere to the left, and out of view around an arete. This parallel pitch ends at the same anchor/ledge as the boulder problem, and is reached by walking left 2 pitches lower and doing a 5.10 approach pitch instead of the .11cR pitch we'd done the day before. Scott lowered down out of view, clipped something as a directional as he didn't have a single carabiner on his harness, and told me he was at the base of the Teflon. It was interesting to belay a famous pitch without actually seeing it, but I could tell Scott was quickly looking at redemption after his frustration on the Boulder Problem. After brushing some holds and chalking some smears, he was able to quickly make progress. In just 2 real tries from the belay ledge he managed to toprope this alternate crux option without falling - and though I was belaying I only ever saw the fingertips of his right hand as he reached the end of difficulties. He said there were 3 fixed steel draws and about 20' of hard climbing above the belay, so he'd probably have fallen farther on our circuitous blind 50m toprope than if I'd grabbed our bags, swung over, pulled the rope and belayed him from below as per normal. Given how quickly he climbed this, I think more folks should try the teflon corner, especially if you aren't an avid boulderer and it's not wet due to early spring runoff. He never tried the alternate approach pitch  (P.20 or so) that leads to the Teflon, but he had already climbed a much harder approach pitch to the boulder problem. So he earns a couple asterisks as well. :-)

(I recognize the black stripe of rock from seeing its continuation out right - it marked the end of the Teflon difficulties)

Scott then lead the 45m (Dry! Fun this time!) "sewer" pitch to the block ledge, and hauled our bag and set up camp as I followed. Later that morning we did 3 more pitches, with Scott leading the first two (.10c Flakes, and .11c/d corner) and me leading the 5.12b Enduro corner, Freerider's 2nd hardest pitch. This had been my high point 3 years prior, and I told Scott via text I wanted redemption and a chance to redpoint it after coming a body length of laybacking from flashing it in the cold. After jumaring, belaying, and following, it was my first lead of the day and it loomed large in my mind and on my nerves. The sun had come out after the first corner pitch but it still wasn't too hot. Remembering some very insecure pin scar pods just above the hanging belay, I nervously aided off 2 weird cams in bashed out holes, then clipped cord slung around a deformed square of metal before lowering back to the belay to stretch out, shake my nerves, sort my rack to my left hip, and begin with a "stick clip" to avoid the chance of falling onto Scott's head and calm my nerves. The thought of freesoloing this or the next pitch makes me want to vomit. I was a half-second shy of saying "take" after shakily placing a yellow alien 10m up, but fought the impulse and kept fighting, soon clipping a string of fixed wires that I assumed were at least mostly bomber since I couldn't see them but knew this pitch sees frequent traffic from aid and freeclimbers. After the thin stemming and tips laybacks, the world's pumpiest hand crack (thin, flaring, leaning, smooth, and shallow, yet accepting of bomber cams) stood between me and the anchor at the Salathe roof. I placed a piece or 2 more than I needed to, and was hyperventilating with adrenaline, fear, and lack of cardio fitness as I laybacked the rounded flake and got a few feet above a #3 camalot where I'd fallen on 3 years prior. Scott was his classically supportive self, telling me to gun it as I was "super safe", and I managed to keep pushing and hang on by the skin of my teeth to clip the anchor and yell "rope fixed." Scott narrowly fell when trying to follow this pitch, but worked out some sequences and would return in the morning to follow it cleanly 2nd try. We rappelled (50m+ 45m) to the Block Ledge and did crosswords.

Day5: I used my nearly powerless phone to text full-spraydown beta begging requests from our awesome friends Kerwin and SJ, both of whom had generously loaned us a big cam for the climb. Neither Scott nor I had ever seen the upcoming 3-4 pitches (the independent "Freerider" ones) as he'd only aid climbed the original Salathe Wall years ago, and I had rappelled from this point on my other attempt. Armed with some great info and SMS encouragement, we began the final morning with just a light bag of snacks and some water and puffies. Scott jumared first so he could try and cleanly self-belay both of the prior day's 2 final corner pitches. Having spent so much of the previous morning trying (and then climbing) the boulder problem and Teflon corner as I rested, he had run out of steam and fallen at the top of both the .11c and .12b corners. As I cleaned up camp and then slowly jumared to meet him, he reworked these pitches in the cool air and did them clean on minitrax self-belay. I soon racked up to begin leading the final 5.12 pitch of the route, second guessing my decision to never have watched the 'Free Solo' movie. Our day would consist of 3-4 real pitches and 3 cruisers to finish up the wall. At this point we were both sending with a couple asterisks. I'd been told the upcoming traverse pitch connecting the Salathe Wall to Round Table Ledge was soft for .12a, and required only a few cams but lots of long slings. I agree with that assessment, but since you are climbing up and around some aretes and corners, it is impossible to see moves, rests, or gear beforehand and would be logistically very difficult to clean and redpoint after a fall anywhere beyond the opening moves. More cruxy layback downclimbs with smear feet soon had me out of view from Scott, but I took my time on the short pitch and overgripped my way to the anchor, hauling over the lowered-out bag and belaying Scott with whom I couldn't really communicate. I'd heard Round Table Ledge called a "great" bivy, but thought it was too multi-tiered and exposed. Unlike Hollow Flake, the Alcove, or the Block, you wouldn't ever want to untie and you might not be able to sit/eat/cook together with your partner. And you are only a few pitches from the top. Scott followed cleanly as I shouted beta and encouragement down and across the void. The next pitch, given .11d, seemed also graded based for Euro/Huber crack climbers. We both thought it was a great meat-and-potatoes ~.11-, reminiscent of Cynical Pinnacle or Turkey Rock in the South Platte. This pitch is also sheltered from the wind and doesn't really have exposure out over the wall of the pitch before or after, despite starting with a section of overhanging red camalots. But the final hard pitch, which features a 10m "Scotty B" offwidth, is probably the most exposed pitch I've ever climbed. It's basically an overhanging finger crack splitting an arete on the left edge of the Salathe headwall, which disappears from view 40' above the nearly hanging belay and widens into a flaring #6 camalot crack. The first section is an overgraded 5.11d, which transitions to offwidth after a small stance with a bolt. Scott styled this pitch after a battle to free a large cam he'd gotten stuck, and he was glad for the info to save his #4 camalot for high on the pitch, near where a variation of the Salathe Wall comes in. The wind had really picked up by the time I began following, and I could barely hear a yell I assumed meant "rope fixed" before the tag line came tight and I watched our small bag go flying out across space, tail of the tag line whipping 3000' off the ground. With 50m of skinny rope to stretch in the event of a fall, and the tail end of my rope flapping horizontally across the wall to my right, I tied a backup knot in the microtraxing line (something rarely done) and focused on the job of finishing up the final challenging pitch. After the initial finger crack Scott had clipped his helmet and some superfluous rack to the bolt, so I took on board this extra kit, tied another backup knot, and laybacked into the Scotty B offwidth, making sure not to layback too far since it looked as though the smears and foot chips were ending. After a crux move establishing into the crack, it really wasn't long until my left hand could get jams at the end of my reach, and I was soon motoring up geologically bizarre but easier final section to a sunny ledge. From here it was a couple easy glory pitches to the summit, and 4-5hrs of rappels as we recollected our gear, ditched surplus water, and zipped down the fixed lines to hot dinner provided by Scott's girlfriend on the ground, and some champagne and oreos, provided by some tourist el-cap watchers we befriended.

Upon hitting the 800' fixed lines from Heart Ledge to the ground, I verbally contemplated ascending to Mammoth Terrace and then downclimbing the blocky corner to the right that I'd rappelled in the dark our first evening. Scott's reply was to enjoy myself and self belay - and that he was headed down the rope to a cold beer. I had the opportunity. I'll live with the asterisk. 

Happy to be back at Heart Ledge
Headed for a beer

[Soapbox Alert] - El Cap has never been onsighted or flashed, by any route, by anyone, ever. A few climbers have come close. Each is a much more skilled and accomplished climber than myself. But nobody has started up a route they hadn't tried before and climbed to the top (even sharing leads) without falling on at least one pitch. Here are a few close calls - at least one of which had the climber publicly claiming he Flashed the route despite climbing the route in 2 parts between a rest on the ground, and after a fall on the crux pitch he chose to attempt. [/Soapbox]

-Mike Anderson (of training guru fame) came very close, but had already aided most of the route on a prior trip, and then on his free ascent of Freerider he climbed for a few days, got halfway up, descended, travelled to a different state, returned, jumared back up, and did the remainder of the climb. I believe he climbed every pitch on the route in 2 halves free during 2 different outings, after previously aiding many of them (and I'd imagine freeing a few during that prior aid climb).

- Cedric Lachat - Climbed the first 10 pitches, then came off the climb and spent some time on the ground, then began (via ascending fixed ropes) atop the first 10 pitch. He then fell on the crux pitch that he chose, rappeled down, climbed to a separate pitch he could have chosen instead, and did that first try. He fell nowhere else on the route. That isn't flashing El Cap (and I don't think Lachat made that claim).

Peter Whittaker - Peter seems to have done the exact same thing as Cedric Lachat, just 5 years later and with a lot more publicity. When you have options of how to ascend part of the route, part of climbing and trying "flash" the whole wall is choosing correctly the one that you can do first try! You don't get do-overs on your decisions or your climbs. Route finding (both on a pitch, and among options for pitches to ascend through a particular stretch of wall) is part of the skill of a climber. Some pitches can also be climbed in 2 completely separate manners via totally different difficulty levels and physical demands (stemming or face climbing outside a chimney vs squirming in the back of it, hand traversing a narrow rail vs foot traversing, etc) - of course it would be nonsense to fall using one method, then attempt a totally different method to reach the same end and claim you did something "first try" - and it's the same on a larger scale in the climb - if you fell after trying "Pitch A" to reach a given point on the route, you stopped flashing the route. Just because you then descend and choose a backup option to reach that same point on the route doesn't mean you're flashing the route. It means you did your backup choice first try. Gold Star. 

-Ueli Steck nearly onsighted Golden Gate, leading and hauling on every pitch. He fell only on a sandbagged .11c pitch off El Cap Spire (which was wet, and which he didn't actually need to climb, since there is a .10+ corner a little to the right. But you don't get any do-overs on choosing pitches on your route!)

- Ondra and Yuji - I believe that the Czech and Japanese climbing gurus both tried to onsight the Salathe Wall and fell on the headwall. Ondra hadn't fallen until then, and I don't believe Yuji had either (but as Chris Farley says - "I don't speak Japanese") - It seems highly probable that 1 or both could have onsighted El Cap if choosing to finish via the Freerider option. 


Bivies: For most of us who aren't honed valley locals nor people making many attempts and rap-in recon days trying a route way above our heads, it makes sense to climb FR in ~26 pitches over 3-4 climbing days with bivies for 2 (not requiring a portaledge) atop P7 ("Peanut Pitch" off Heart Ledge) or P8 (Hollow Flake) then P13 (Alcove) and P18 (Block Ledge - sloping but spacious). It's also possible to bivy atop P22 (Round Table Ledge) but that spot seemed exposed to wind, only got very late sun, and at that point you are only 2 non-trivial pitches from the top.

Rack: 1x Purple C3, Green C3, #4C4, #5C4, #6C4, #7C4 (or merlin 8, or VG),1x offset cam from tips to #.5/#.75combo, 2x Red C3thru #3C4, Single set offset nuts, 8x alpine qds, 4-5x normal QDs, 1-2 48" slings. You don't need anything bigger than a single #3C4 for Freeblast.

Other weird skills/gear: Layback downclimbing w/smear feet, left-facing layback upclimbing and downclimbing, left-side-in right-facing offwidth, vert bouldering. Consider wearing a burly cut off 1/2 sock (no need for the front/toe half of the sock) on your left foot for the Monster, Scotty Burke, and pitch above the alcove, and on your right foot for the Hollow Flake, in order to protect ankle bones from scrapes. Consider neoprene volleyball elbow/knee sleeve for the Monster, especially if it's too warm to wear layers and longsleeves. Nice to have 1 large haulbag and 1 small one, as well as a ~5mm tag line and a ~9mm static 60mm rope. Hand Jams and/or tape are useful only above P13 (Alcove). The second #3 camalot is really only helpful for the 2 pitches off Round Table Ledge, maybe the pitch off the Alcove.

P1: 10c 50m Link P1/P2. Varied cracks.  Save #3 for top.

P2: 5.11- 50m Link P3/P4 Wires/cams from smallest to #.75.   Low crux then chill stemming w/many fixed pieces.

P3: 35m 5.11b Offset cams + single set tips to #1C4. Tricky flares w/offsets. Crux @ bolt 4-5, moving right w/good feet, no hands. Stay right at ending.

P4: 30m 11a Draws and slings only. Stay high and right at crux, traverse straight left at the pin.

P5 85m 5.10b Full Rack Mostly 5.8-5.9, the only 5.10 portion is turning "half dollar" roof, and next 8m. Face out, use arete. Simul to make

link happen or break up w/belay before roof. Anchor is pitons/gear.

P6: 60m 5.8 to the top of Mammoth Ledge. Downclimb is 5.9 and blocky/loose, start 10' skier’s L from the anchor with fixed rope @W. end of ledge. Stay "outside" edge of corner on
downclimb. Down-lead or other weird shenanigans for 2nd climber. Leader needs device to belay 2nd (can't Microtrax)


P7:35m5.10V4Slab(.11c)1xGreenC3 to #2. Semi-blind step to large match foot below crux bolt. Key right foot smear crystal for crux. There are 2

anchors atop this pitch. The right one works fine for belaying or rapping to heart w/70m.

P7.1: 20m 5.6 Move belay, bring a .4 or .5 to protect leaning to clip anchor.

P8: (Hollow Flake) ~60m 5.11(down) 5.9+ (up) RACK: only #7BD CAM, LEADER BRING ATC. Clip tat or put a leaver biner on stuck locker L. of anchor to protect downclimb. Crux of downclimb is at start, then downclimb long 5.10 LF finger crack. Where crack thins to tips, move left to face hold flakes then back into corner to lowest terrace. Walk left and easy climb up. Bump along #7BD on final 50. Follower gets down-belayed through carabiner
on anchor, then climbs up. Belayer atop pitch unties and throws his end down to the follower who switches ends then gets
belayed up final ~60’ on the strand not going through first anchor. (If leader brought and placed a #6, beware that your untie
and rope switch doesn't dislodge tipped out cam into the abyss.) Leader may need to rappel down/right a few meters from
anchor to swing their end of rope to the follower. Can't Microtrax

P9: 45m .10a Full Rack. Start up chimney face out, after 10m move left around arete into easy cracks and flakes. Clip first anchor in corner.  Move left and use gaston at short 5.10 crux.

P10: 50m .10a Full rack. Really easy up/right at first, then pass ledge with anchor, then up smooth shallow RFC with polished stone - some short airy laybacks, save #4 for high on pitch. 

P11: (Ear) 25m 5.9 cams from #.75 to #5 ~7 slings (+longs) Place #.75, climb to top of corner, clip pin, reach way left blindly around corner. In Ear, traverse straight left face out froggy/scrunchy using double kneebars + improving edges. Flip tag/haul line outside ear.

P12: (Monster) 50m 5.11d Rack: #.4 or #.5 then #5C, #6C, #7, 3 slings 2 Qds, leader ATC, 5mm tag line, neoprene sleeves, #6 on tether to harness, left hip. Tag over other gear + H2O @ bolted pillar stance, leave H2O for 2nd. #7 fits above this, or bring 2nd #6. Can't Microtrax (5.11+ downclimb, 5.11 sustained OW upclimb)

P13: 10m 5.9+ Short easy OW stem chimney into alcove. Just take #5, #6.

P14: 5.11- 50m full rack to #6, hand jams. Chimney behind tower - run it out for rope drag. Stemming and liebacking on right. Thin cracks on right flake. Save #6 for squeeze chimney at top. Weirdly hard about 30m up laybacking above #5. This is the final use for #6 until Scott Burke (last hard pitch). Fix tag line down this pitch if sleeping @ alcove.

P15: 5.10- 15M Thin hands (no jammies) Rack 2x #1, and 2x #.75. Go left after bulge - easy to big ledge. (get to Teflon by walk left then up after this ) 

P16: 20m .11c (.10 R, wet) Rack: RPs and Tips to single #1 Thin corner then good #1 in base of flake, marginal tips cams higher in flake. Blind moves right then runout to anchor. Belay under boulder. 

P17 :(Boulder Problem) 20m 13a (3x draws, 2 slings, #.75) (Can fix a 60 from atop this pitch to top of P14)

Good beta around 18min here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CikzYN0z4zU

There are 3 bolts. There’s a nice flat ledge 1 bolt up (basically a 2nd tier belay ledge you could use instead, less windy), then a thin no-hands rest at bolt #2 by leaning right, then bolt #3 before the crux. If you’re under 6’ it is likely hard to aid up from bolt #2 to #3 to hang draw and pull through without doing the move. From the anchor atop the BP, you can lower hard left down into the Teflon. I didn't match the thumbercling, just kept my right hand on the crimp. Palm down/in w/left hand on sloper @ crux kick.

P18: (Sewer) 5.10+ 45m (30m + 15m) Full rack to #5. Hand jammies Sewer when dry is a fun face climbing pitch on black rock. Crux final 15m (Save #2, #1, #.75, #.4or#.5)

P19: (Flakes) 5.10c 45m Rack Tips-> #1C4, all slings. Easy loose flakse up to flat ledge. Look up/right and see a flake leading to lower off aid mank. Ignore that.

Go left->Up (blind & straight left at first) on runout flakes. committing mantles and reaches to fingers/hands in a crack.

Crux is ~⅔ height where a bomber pin w/reinforced tieoff protects a reach. 

P20: 25m 5.11c Rack: 1x blue alien, 1x #3, doubles thin fingers to #2 & 5-6 draws. No nuts. Crux is ~8m before top, at rounded leftward bulge. First half of pitch very easy, rest up then punch it. 

P21: (Enduro Corner) 25m .12b Rack 1x cams/nuts tips to #3, 2x #1, #2, ~7 draws, larger offset cams

Funk start (#2, #1 in pods off belay, fixed bashie, kneebars), stemming and jamming in the middle (fixed wires or tips cams), jam then

layback the top (hand cams thin->#3). Crux high.

P22: 20m 5.11+ Rack: 1x cams .4-#3, no nuts, 6 slings, ATC belay follower. Movement easy for grade but can't preview moves or gear + cruxy to reverse/redpoint so fall is consequential. Can't Microtrax. End @ Round Table Ledge (OK Bivy)

P23: 35m .11- Rack: Single #.4,#.5 Doubles .75-#3, single #4. ~6 slings. Hand Jammies. (11d is euro/Huber grade) Jam (w/stem,chimney) thin hands to #3s. Rest in chimney. Pop right out of chimney (#.75 here) hands/fingers to belay. #1 is

nice for the end. (P23, P24, and maybe P14 above alcove are only reasons for 2nd #3Cam).

P24: (Scott Burke) LAST REAL PITCH! 50m 5.11. Rack: 1x Red C3->#6, doubles #3, doubles #.4,#.5,#.75s for start TAPE hands plus crack gloves 

5.11- start burly finger locks w/ many jugs, little corner switches. Possible cramped nook belay 40’ up.  Pull over bulge into W #6. Clip bolt on R. No-hands stance under bolt. Possible to layback and smear via foot chips, especially for 2nd. Burn #6,

walk #5, then walk #4, place #3, save #4 on harness. Left side in, reach way back for LH jams.

After crack convergence/chimney, place #4. After you reach the OW+bolt you don't want anything smaller than #3

on your harness, so you could clip leftovers to bolt. Hard to hear follower, microtrax works fine. If super runout near top on

easy terrain below anchor, look right and there’s a bolt where a Salathe variation comes in from Long Ledge.

P25: 25m .10+ thin hands Rack: 2x .4-#2 Crack/flake, easier for small hands. No tape gloves. Up 5.5 slab in alcove.

P26: 20m 5.9 V2 (or 5.11-) Rack: smattering of gear, few long slings, no big gear. Clip pins, grab horizontal near pin, heel out left, rock up and mantle. Wiggle into chimney, clip tat, wiggle out of chimney into layback. Good feet on left wall. Face west. 12’ of layback, juggy hands to summit slabs, then 20m 5.6 glory knobs to summit.  


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  2. This is a great write up, BIG RESPECT and you've even added the gear you used for reference. Looks like you had quite the adventure but made it look easy too :)

  3. Thank you for sharing your blog with us. I really like your post.
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