Royal Arches Apron Faceclimbing


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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 16, 2007 - 08:43pm PT
Late one Fall long ago, Fig and I climbed Shakey Flakes. Put up in 1973 by Chris Falkenstein, Ken Bishop, Edd Kuropat, Tom Carter and Mark McPherran, the route is an edgefest with a wonderfully perfect crux.

Meyer Guide area topo ala 1982.
The opening pitch.
Fig on the 5.10d second lead.
One of my favoite slab climbing images, flat handing and reaching for a dime.
The pause that refridges.
Starting up the crux 5th pith.
Fig following the superb crux section. Perfectly spaced and shaped edges, so good that free soloing the route crossed my mind even at 5.11c!
The last hard climbing on the 7th pitch at 10c.
Fabulous route that needs a little more work to re-establish and refit it. Probably the first chalkless ascent also. LOL

Trad climber
Jun 16, 2007 - 09:25pm PT
Beautiful, Steve!

Jun 16, 2007 - 09:35pm PT
Bitchin stink buggin, thanks for postin
Jerry Dodrill

Bodega, CA
Jun 16, 2007 - 09:40pm PT
Cool Steve! Is that the Cobra in the top of the last photo? Looks like it.


Trad climber
Boulder Colorado
Jun 16, 2007 - 10:19pm PT
way cool - thanks for the nice post Steve

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jun 17, 2007 - 01:43am PT
Is that the Cobra in the top of the last photo?

The Cobra is further left, pretty much directly above, just a bit right, of the 5.6 Royal Arches route's penji bolts. It's to the left of the the big corner and arched roof system that comprises the proper Royal Arches formation. Shaky Flakes goes up under the big arch.

Steve's first, panoramic, photo shows a big, undercut roof left of the Arches formation; the Cobra goes just right of that, but the crack is not visible in the photo. The pitches to get from the 5.6 RA penji to the Cobra Crack go up the smooth, 5.9/5.10 slab above the uppermost grey flake, probably with ancient, rusted, 1/4" bolts for pro. I went up there once, and promptly bailed. Cracks I understand. Runout slab? Not my idea of fun. Tobin Sorenson went up and freed the Cobra with his brother, but I'm comfortable knowing my abilities were/are not on a par with his.

Royal Arches Direct (Robbins, McCracken(?)) goes somewhere through the roofs in Steve's other photos. The Drip Factor is rumored to be horrendous.
Jerry Dodrill

Bodega, CA
Jun 17, 2007 - 12:19pm PT
Thanks Tom. I'm familiar w/ the Cobra, just right of the big eyebrow. Shakey Flakes seems to be directly under it, but under the big arch. Cool vantage looking up on that last photo.

Sport climber
Buzzard Point, TN
Jun 17, 2007 - 12:21pm PT
blast from the past, nice stuff...Gene Drake used to tell me that EB's held better on edges than any of this "new fangled stuff" (I think Stealth 2 was the hot chit then...)
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 17, 2007 - 12:51pm PT
Jerry, no mistaking the Cobra. You are correct. Definitely an unusual perspective. Any of you guys that have done the Cobra free or on aid, what is the protection scene up there with modern equipment? The early stories from the FFA are exciting to say the least but gear has improved dramatically and I would like to follow in Tobin's wake some time.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 22, 2007 - 11:16am PT
If I can just get my foot to stay on this...bump.

Trad climber
devil's lake, wi
Jun 22, 2007 - 11:24am PT
Something is amiss.

I see no chalk bags on these guys. Photoshopped out maybe?

Gym climber
Jun 22, 2007 - 12:07pm PT
Wow, those first two climbing shots are fab, looks like a night scene, WTF-O.

I did Shaky Flakes just after Fires came out. I had this beautiful pair of EBs resoled with Contact rubber, the schnizzle back then. Took 'em out one day to the base of El Cap, and forgot them there.

The next day we headed over to some face climbing. My buddy had a new pair of Fires, which we shared by sending them down the trail line. I got to lead what was then the .11c crux, it went real smooth like. Now they rate it rubber lowered the grade? Perhaps.

3rd class it?? Boy, all balls, no brains!! I thought that .10d was SCARY!

I'd love to go back and do that route, but like so many classics of yester-year, I am afraid of the old bolts. What are we going to do about this, it's a crisis.

As for the Cobra, I've been looking at that for years. But like others, I'm afraid of Tobin-age bolts. I believe that Clint recently mentioned that he'd done it. Clint, did you rap from the top or manage your way from the ground?

:- k

Jun 22, 2007 - 12:25pm PT
cool thread. here's me on the rambler, from which we got a good look at some of shakey flakes. we'd heard some bolts were missing from shakey flakes. anyone know?


Gym climber
Jun 22, 2007 - 12:32pm PT
Funny, I heard a bolt was missing from Rambler, 2nd pitch...
Jerry Dodrill

Bodega, CA
Jun 22, 2007 - 02:03pm PT
I caught a big tumbling fall on the Rambler about ten years ago. Jim Lundeen was leading. He came whipping off and I went running down hill with all kinds of rope coming down at me. Bastard went back up and did the same thing a second time. I was the freaked one. He came down and asked if I wanted to give it a go. We bailed.
John Vawter

Social climber
San Diego
Jun 22, 2007 - 02:09pm PT
Somebody give a shout to Greg Barnes to put this on the list. Looks great, and without the looming threat from above that the Apron has. Great old shots. Chalkless! Nicely done.

Jun 22, 2007 - 02:17pm PT
haha, where you see me standing in the picture is where the bolt's missing (it's the first pitch, not the 2nd). my partner had plenty of time to take the shot while i debated whether to continue.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 22, 2007 - 03:19pm PT
Classic shots, Steve! Thanks for sharing. I remember having fun on it in the mid-80s (with Fires).


Shaky Flakes Replaced 30 bolts. All belay bolts are 3/8". Almost all lead bolts are 3/8". THERE ARE BOLTS MISSING ON PITCHES 4-6!! 12/97 ASCA

As for the Cobra, the first (5.8) pitch above the Royal Arches pendulum point has all new bolts (possibly retroed; someone did a new route above it). The second pitch (5.9, which has the interesting step across the wet streak) has mostly original 3/16" or 1/4" Star-Dryvin bolts - it needs to be fixed (as of June 2004; I have not been back on it since) and can be done quickly. It had a missing bolt just before stepping across the streak. The traversing pitches after that are fine and do not rely on any ancient bolts, although a few could be upgraded. The bolt belay in the final corner has an ASCA bolt, and the top belay is fine.

Photos at:

Gym climber
Jun 22, 2007 - 05:23pm PT
Great pictures Clint! Thanks for the update.

As for Shakey Flakes, makes you wonder about those missing bolts.
For example, why are they missing after the rebolting effort? Should somebody go up and replace them; if so, how do you know where the missing ones go?

On Rambler, the ASCA site says:

Replaced 20 bolts. All anchor bolts and most protection bolts are 3/8" 12/97 Chris McNamara, Jim Herson

:- k
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Jun 23, 2007 - 01:48am PT
I enjoyed Shakey Flakes. I had heard the crux was 11b when I led it, but the crux pitch was like a breath of fresh (hard) air since at least it had pretty ok pro.

I remember a pitch up high where my partner did a 10a move with no pro in sight and could have slide a long way to finally launch over a small roof.

I wonder if I can still handle so much fun and excitement?


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