Peter Pan


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Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - May 21, 2006 - 01:47am PT
Gary and I were up to do Peter Pan 5.9+ at El Cap, West Buttress Base area. I'd wait and post a photo trip report but I will just add to this later when the photos are available...

Gary was brilliant, I was horrible... somedays are like that, it's good to have competent partners.

There are good quality fixed ropes to aid in the approach, however, once on top under the climb the gully is very loose. Much care is needed not to launch large rocks and boulders down the butteress.

Looking at the Reid's topo you can start by going up onto the ledge atop the flake, and belay at a Bay tree (got ants, but not too bad). This makes it very easy to run pitch 1 and 2 together. The bolts at the top of Pitch 1 (two shown) are in good shape.

The belay at the top of pitch 2 was mostly around a really good flake at the base of the crack. (Note that the two bolts shown on the same ledge are not useful for a belay on this route.) Two #4.5 Camelots (old style) worked well in the start, you get a good chockstone. Then a #5 Camelot (old style) to get to the crux. This protects well with some smaller pieces too, and a nut, etc.

Once there the two bolts are in not great condition, one has its original hanger (a funky "Lost Arrow" like eye) the other is missing a hanger. Up and into the 5.7 squeeze at that point. Protection would be wonderful with two Blue Big Bros (forget the number, but it is the biggest of the small diameter Bros), we had one, Gary was hot today and ran it out. Other large pieces were good too, but don't bring the whole rack as there is mostly no place to put anything.

The summit ledge is really great, big and flat. The bolts there were also ok, look around as there seems to be a number.

We used two ropes to rap to the belay ledge. It is an outside possibility that one would do. The rap is right of the fall line as you look down, and you pick up the three bolts (two shown) in Reid's topo. One of these are ok, two are probably original. A two rope rap to the ground.

Our friend Steve saw my rig and wandered up with his sister to yell us a hello from the base. Thanks Steve!

On the way down we ran into 'Pass the Pitons' Pete and Nefarius getting ready on Dihedral Wall (good luck mates!).

Roger, as far as I can see, both Lost Boys and Smee's Come-on are still there. Smee's Come-on looked re-veged, however, with not many signs of having been cleaned for climbing. Today it was wet (not that we were going to get on it).

I'm sore and achey (retweaked my back, I think, on the crux) and unhappy about my performance, but, I think this is a good climb, though physical.

The state of the slings (hanging everywhere) indicate that this climb doesn't get climbed that much, and that people seem to bail off. We cleaned things up a bit, but I suspect that the next party up there will find the slings in a bad state.

The bolts should probably be replaced. I actually liked the climb enough to think about going up and doing better later this season. Maybe I'll take the bolt kit... any opinions?

I used tape and cams, but I cheated much worse than that today...

May 21, 2006 - 01:49am PT
It's a great route Ed, glad you liked it.

The right side is great too .......
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
May 21, 2006 - 02:46am PT
I can't remember which side of Peter Pan I've done, but I do remember using my jam to jam a wide crack as I was sort of mantling into an OW section.

I remember thinking "if my feet cut loose, I'll be hanging myself by the head!"



Trad climber
the south
May 21, 2006 - 07:52am PT
Those blue Big Bros are kinda cool, especially when you need one, haha!

Thanks for a climbing topic, Ed.

Maybe you could just talk a little about the ofwidth technique you had to use on this thing, and describe the 5.7 squeeze job.
that's an interesting idea, a squeeze chimney or crack that is easy enough to be 5.7, so probably very secure, but still, maybe a moment of introspection when run out, cause after all, you are just wedged in there, heh.


right here, right now
May 21, 2006 - 11:38am PT
did someone say 5.7 chimney, secure but causing introspection?
off topic, but the ear on salathe is an incredibly spicey and airy 5.7 pitch, eh?
(oops, i see it's now called 5.8)

also, right near peter pan is an obscure jardine 11a crack thing which is pretty good.

looking in my guide book now...
(must be thinking cuthulu or indubious battle)
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 21, 2006 - 11:45am PT
Peter Pan is an extremely high quality crack route of three pitches on the West Buttress of El Cap. First pitch is very easy up a left facing ramplike book to a standing belay on ledges. Second pitch is an undercling to the right for 6-10 ft, and hand jamming over the undercling (5.8) to the large pedestal that ends that lead. The third and final pitch takes off from the left edge of the pedestal and climbs a straight-in , smooth wide crack past a chockstone and up to an ear (30 ft+/-) formed by a 1 ft thick slab covering that straight-in crack for only several feet. Getting over the ear is the crux; standing ontop of it is “no-hands”. Thereafter the crack is a squeeze that is surprisingly hard in sections and has exhausted many, after this crux. The approach involves hiking up past Capt Hook, Wendy et al, and scrambling up somewhat iffy hummocks, scree and general pedestalish funkiness with a fixed rope as a handline. By the time you get on the climb, especially pitches 2-3, you are quite high up for the small amount of climbing you have done. It has superb views of the West Buttress etc. In general, one of the really good short crack climbs in the Valley. It originally was rated 5.8 in the red Roper guide, and now is thought to be nearly 5.10 at the crux which can be done a couple different ways. Most people resort to putting a foot above their hands placed at the top of the ear, and struggling (as Karl mentions) to kind of “saddle up” on the ear. Awkward and unusual. I first did this thing in 1964-5, and have done it probably more than a half dozen times since, even recently. Molly Higgins and I even did it back in 1974-5 and she found the 5.8 S-squeeze above the ear, really hard. It is “size-related” btw.

The story about the right side cunningly named “Peter Left” by Hargis is a classic one. In 1971 Schmitz and I did the regular route as described above, and rapped the long right facing dihedral of the unclimbed rt side, cleaned it out (which took several hours as it was really choked with tons of ferns, munge, dirt, and flakes---it looked really gross) and then intended to return to climb the thing. No one up to that point wanted to take all the trouble to do this so the thing right there at the base of El Cap, was undone even though it probably could have been climbed free in the 1950’s! As I had run out of money and had to work in the Bay Area for a month, Schmitz then went up there with Hargis and they unapologetically did the FA, which is 5.10b maybe with two distinct cruxes. It was surprising that they couldn't come up with something else to climb (back in 1971!) that did not have the aspect of blowing me out. This marked the end of my enthusiasm for Kim. At the time it really mattered as we were all trying to make our mark in climbing.

The right side climb is very intimidating from below, but it turns out there are tons of good "surprise" edges on the main wall on the final, big, pitch. Not typical of El Cap dihedrals! The short offwidth below that pitch is tougher than it looks and may repel some people. This is also a very very good route, and should be done more frequently than it is, as it has unique stuff happening, is safe, and is spectacular. The little routes under Peter Pan are also good btw.

right here, right now
May 21, 2006 - 12:00pm PT
cuthulu and indubious battle are direct starts to peter pan and peter left respectively.

so we must have done jardines cuthulu (actually 5.10) as a start for peter pan. i recall it as a good consistent crack.

you've got quite a detailed memory Mr Haan.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 21, 2006 - 12:53pm PT
Peter does have an incredible memory, and he nails the essential features right on the head! The crux, which Gary lead, was passed by the very same "foot up" technique, and looking about for pro one finds a good quantity of it, the best being a nut welded between "the ear" and the face left of the crack.

Below the crux foot work is a premium, and I became completely gassed struggling on this part. Not my best day, as I said. With modern wide gear the climb is relatively tame in the "hard parts".

Above the crux, standing on it in fact, is a great no-hands rest as you ponder the ancient bolts. Gary was about to belay me to here but my thoughts were threefold: 1) his description of the mank didn't inspire any confidence in me, 2) the top was within our rope length and 3) Gary has his chimney/offwidth game on these days. So I yelled up "what are you doing, just finish the pitch"... and he did, in great style.

The Roper guide gives the equipment list as 10 pitons including a 4" bong. You all have to know that this means roughly 70 to 100 feet of chimney is climbed without any protection. Modern contrivences like Big Bros now make this protectable. Just as in other climbing locations whose geography/topology require a particular climbing technique (e.g. cracks and Yosemite Valley, overhangs and the 'Gunks, etc.) relatively low ratings for seeming really difficult cruxes are common. No one could believe a 5.3 overhang in the 'Gunks, for instance, but they exist. Similarly a 5.7 squeeze chimney seems impossible, but this was.

The squeeze chimney is size dependent, and the feeling of security is entirely a belief in one's technique as you could screw this up badly a number of ways. Like most of climbing, the security you derive comes from inside, your head. Above the crux, the left edge of the crack is sharp, the right side protrudes out of the plane, suggesting: right side in, right knee bar or knee-heal jams, left foot heel on right side, toe on left side edge, left arm "gaston" and right arm chicken wing/arm bar/push. Then you just go. Sometimes you are in, sometimes you are out, and its all 5.7.

It is a beauty, but you have to have your technique dialed to send it.

I tweaked my back pulling on the crux and really made my life hell doing the 5.7 part. Please note that you can't really be pulled up by your partner, and falling out as a second will send you swinging on the plumb line 10's of feet right of the crack. While the fear of taking a long ride is gone with the rope above you, you still have to climb the crack.

At some point you get to an internal flake, a huge blade jammed deep in the crack, just past it gets a little wide. It's nice to get it cause it breaks the repetitiveness of the lower section, and offers better protection (or I should say, some protection).

The last bit of the pitch is spectacular to contemplate. We went up an incredible smooth squeeze chimney, the faces vertical facets of some sort of small crystal rock, brownish, with two horizontal bands of quartz intrusions. This up to a tunnel leading to the summit block. One contemplates the force which shattered this part of the cliff into these flakes and blocks, cleaving them from the main rock and balancing it all one on top of the other for our climbing pleasure.

Gary should post, but he is spew-averse, he did a great job.

I am home licking my wounds and holding my aching back... it is a great route.

This post boarders on microbeta, but, no description I can provide does justice to the climb itself. You actually have to do it, talk is cheap. I only admonish those who may try that it you should be very much on your own chimney/offwidth game. And be free from back ailments...

Gym climber
berkeley, ca
May 21, 2006 - 01:19pm PT
Peter...I don't understand the "cunning " of the name Peter Left (on the right side of Peter Pan). What was the story? I've been on a couple of your climbs labeled 'fists' in the guidebook that were fully ow for me...You must be a big a guy.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
May 21, 2006 - 01:35pm PT
Mid 70's went up to do this armed with some of them newfangled tube chocks for the OW. On the third pitch I put everything up to the #6 (6") getting up to the "ear". I hadn't brought any other gear except the tubes for the pitch, back then there really wasn't any good guidebook description so the "ear" took me by surprise. Looked like someone had pounded a pin in the flake at one time or another but it wasn't there now and, I was looking at a 40+ fall onto a #6 tube if I blew the move.

So I backed off, downclimbing the offwidth and praying that I wouldn't knock out the tube chocks as I climbed past them.



I'm so over it
May 21, 2006 - 02:10pm PT
Splendid thread--thx Ed, Peter, all. Pan is on the '06 shortlist. Pictures, Ed? Anyone?

Melissa: Peter (Haan) cleaned the route but then Peter Left.

Smee's Come-on, 5.11. Dave Bircheff & Roger Breedlove, 1976. Stories?

Breedlove and Bircheff pose with an unidentified fan after the climb:

Gary Carpenter

SF Bay Area
May 21, 2006 - 02:12pm PT
Peter.. Thank you for posting.

I’m sitting here this morning nursing some random aches and pains and looking at my old man shins (I would guess from your writings that I’m a couple of years older than you) that are pretty beat up from yesterday’s adventure.

Your memory of the climb is dead on accurate!

Modern gear makes protection of the OW crack above the pedestal relatively easy even though we found the climbing very challenging. Ed was able to use 4.5 Camalots above the pedestal pushing one up the crack ahead until he could sling the chockstone. He had trouble moving above the chockstone so he lowered and it was my turn.

The lower portion of the crack is not quite wide enough to jam a knee. I pulled my knee pads down so I could get a knee in as soon as possible. The crack widens above the chockstone and a #5 Camalot works up to a couple feet below the “ear” (pulled up the knee pads here). I was also able to get a large nut under the ear where it overlaps the left side of the crack (this nut was in tight and couldn’t be cleaned).

As you say, the crux move is awkward and unusual. Grabbing the top of the ear is very positive and it is easy to pull up to chest level but the crack above the ear is so wide that it was impossible for me to get a good jam. After a couple of attempts, I stumbled on the technique you mention. Lieback enough to get the left foot up on top of the ear then pull up and get into the wide crack.

Two rusty old bolts, a tattered sling, a bail biner and a very long squeeze chimney greeted me. Ed talked me into continuing. After back cleaning the #5, I started up.

It looked like a looong way but the climbing was straight forward 5.7 squeeze chimney as advertised. I moved up easily for what seemed like a pretty good distance and decided to place our only #4 Bigbro. It took awhile to get a good placement and when I looked down I wasn’t nearly as far up as I thought (30-35 feet I would guess). With a lot of wide crack above and no more Bigbro I realized that I was going to have to pace myself in order not burn out before I could get to get up to a place where I could set the #5 Camalot.

As I continued I looked for places that felt very secure where I could stop for a couple of minutes and get a rest before continuing on. I think this is a key strategy. In the last couple of years Ed and I have practiced a lot of 5.7 squeeze but nothing anywhere near this long and sustained. We’ve recently been practicing downclimbing 5.7 squeeze and that is a confidence builder when you’re a long way above the last pro. Once I got to the large flake that is wedged in the crack things got easier and the rest of the climb is well protected.

As Ed says, the belay ledge at the top is great and the view is spectacular!

It was a great adventure. Thanks Ed.

And thanks to you Peter for your insight and all those bold leads “back in the day”.


Trad climber
the south
May 21, 2006 - 03:04pm PT
Need more threads like this one, great stories, insights, advice, what else can you say but nice job?

I have a feeling you three guys, Peter, Ed and Gary are all fairly big.
Gary Carpenter

SF Bay Area
May 21, 2006 - 03:49pm PT

Don't know about Peter. I'm 5'9" 160#. Ed's about the same. A big guy might find it easier through the crux but hardier in the squeeze chimney.


Sport climber
Venice, Ca
May 21, 2006 - 04:02pm PT
I remember Peter Left as being very poorly protected with Hexes--all we had beck then. A really classic corner in a neat place.

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 21, 2006 - 05:00pm PT
About the Peter Pan crux. The usual method of solving the problem of getting on top of the ear is as we all have said, putting your foot up over your head and hands and grossly driving that foot and leg into the resuming chimney above the ear.

However, for those who might wish a more elegant solution, there actually are some subtle stemming holds around and on the ear and to its left, which I have used when strong and fit, in conjunction to the finger/lieback edge the ear gives. The moves are NOT obvious and at that point most people are starting to get a little worried as the exposure plays a big part in how you are thinking at this point. You feel like you are 700 ft in the air.

Yes, I am big. In the day, 185-195 lbs, 6-2". I never met a climber who had hands as large as mine, not even LLoyd Price. But the curse was that my fingers are huge also and climbs with thin cracks usually were hideous for me. Thankfully I was also really strong, could do a dead-hang one-arm pullup (1 rep only) on either arm even weighing that much. Guys much stronger than Largo and I usually had gymnast backgrounds and couldn't seem to get with climbing thinking. Richie Goldstone, truly the strongest climber I have EVER seen, actually had a continually hard time in the Valley, even though we all liked him so very much. But I guess Sharma is the first I have seen that is stronger strength/weight ratio-wise. Richie could sustain front levers and iron crosses on the rings he had set up, and did all these floor exercises that displayed a level of power that seemed only fabled. And then he would get spanked on 5.8 and 5.9 cracks sometimes. So, irregardless of some of one's attributes, climbing comes more from the mind than we usually realize. Tunnel Vision is the real enemy .

But right Melissa, there is no relationship between what is a fist crack for me and what it is for you . But you will get even if we are doing 1/2" to 3/4" cracks, as my fingers are more like 1" and stuff can actually be unclimbable. Lynn's thing on the Great Roof is the final laugh at the rest of us, talking about size. With huge thin-crack craze that swept the Valley around 1974-1980, I had to kind of crawl over to the sidelines.

best to you, PH

Trad climber
the south
May 21, 2006 - 05:09pm PT
HAHA, you are all big to me!!

At my favorite climbing weight, I weigh 132, 5'10". I could actually weigh about 128 but that would be pushing it. Will fit in most things. Little fingers. I get perfect ring jams and thumb cams where you big handed guys get misery.

On the other hand, your fun fist crack or even decent hand jam is my fvcking nightmare, hahaha!

Most of the time I go with, "Light Makes Right", hehe.

This does make it hard to belay my 235 pound counterweight sometimes.
Roger Breedlove

Trad climber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
May 21, 2006 - 06:22pm PT
Hey Ed, I think it is great that you climbed Peter Pan and seem to be generating some interest in the climb. I think it is one of the best in the Valley at its grade and it should be on everyone’s list. I also like hearing Peter's comments about Peter Pan and also Peter Left. (Hey Peter, I know how you must have felt to have Kim and Mead climb the right side without you after you cleaned it out--similar things have happened to me—different climbers.)

I always climbed the crux of Peter Pan the second way Peter describes it without draping my leg over the top, but by dinking around with small foot holds and finger jams behind the flake. Ed Drummond and I climbed it the last time I did it, so that Ed could learn something about Valley off width-squeeze chimneys. As I remember he cruised right up it.

Hey Ryan, cute picture of me and Dave in our alter egos of Smee and Captain Hook. How did you know that we worked at Disney land? We tried to keep that quite.

'Lost Boys' and 'Smee's Come On' don't have much to recommend them I am afraid. Dave and I sort of scoped out both of those corners from afar and then went up and tried to find the bottoms of both of them. If I remember correctly, they both start after climbing blocky, vegetated corners--sort of approach pitches.

I think 'Lost Boys' may end on something that allows a traverse left to more of the same near the bottom of the start of Wendy or Peter Pan--not so sure anymore.

'Smee's Come On', which ends at the bottom of the Windy chimney, is more distinct. However it also has an approach pitch on the buttress rock. The main corner is the last corner before the large expanse of slabs that runs across to the Dihedral Wall. It has a nice exposure to it. The 'Smee's Come On' corner angles off to the right and forms a roof but because the main wall is relatively low angle it is not desperate. However, the climbing up this leaning corner is awkward and the rock on the face is not so good--the rock under the corner is protected from the weather and is scaly. Nothing washes it off.

At the end of the leaning corner, that has turned into a roof, is a vertical, right facing corner with a nice finger crack. I would guess that about 15-20 feet of laybacking and thin jams get you to the large ledge at the base of Wendy. That short little section is the best part of the climb.

I don't think I know of anyone who did a subsequent ascent. I have no idea who rated it. I was surprised to see it in George's guide when it came out.

I think that there is also a direct start or something to get to Wendy--a very nice straight in crack at 5.9. It is long step to get into it, but very nice. (I would be more precise, but I don't have a guide book with me.) I would add this is a list of climbs in that area to do.

Nice thread.

Best, Roger
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Oakville, Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 21, 2006 - 07:02pm PT
Nice to meet you guys!

Just chillin' and drinkin' and stayin' dry. It's supposed to rain today and tomorrow, then be dry. Guess we'll head back up then.

May 21, 2006 - 08:00pm PT

Trad climber
Santa Clara, CA
May 21, 2006 - 08:54pm PT
I get route amnesia all the time.

Your detailed memories are amazing to me. Unless I immediately scribble notes in the route book, I can hardly remember any details to any climb within hours. A climb is more of a physical and emotional experience than a cognitive one for me; don't ask why. (I don't get it.)

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 22, 2006 - 12:05am PT
Ouch! that is quite a flattering rendition of me... sort of an 80's twist, the tights that is.. and those ankle high boots (I can only wish!). I'm going to have to get a hat like that with a feather.

MikeL - after the amount of time I took going up the route I had no problem committing much of the details to memory. Usually I can picture the details accurately for a few days or maybe a bit more, then I remember the details, but not accurately. My friend Will from SLC always refered to it as "Climber's Alzheimer's," the advantage being that you are always climbing a route for the first time...

Gary's close to right on size... my hands are not so big... the biggest hands I know are TM Herbert's, so Peter must have a pretty good pair on him. I know my hands are larger than Melissa's...


Gym climber
berkeley, ca
May 22, 2006 - 12:14am PT
"the biggest hands I know are TM Herbert's"

They must be enourmous if they're bigger than abelgabel's.

It's fun to get my ego boost on the thin hands (and I do find it motivating to work that size!) and "ow's" that are the right size for me to get a knee in or crawl inside.. I've just had to learn to calibrate my expectations to the FAist...Like I mentioned, I've come to expect that you were a big guy, Peter!

Thanks for sharing your memories.

Also, fwiw, since it's getting a recommendation, rumor has it that the rap anchor on top of Wendy is a single rotting 1/4 incher. Caveat Emptor.

Social climber
The West
May 22, 2006 - 12:36am PT
Ed, this "Will from SLC" ?

Maybe not, but I climbed Peter Left with this character.

May 22, 2006 - 12:43am PT
Hahaha Peter, I remember that day when you got all pissed about the right side of Peter Pan.

But remember, .... Hargis also tried to steal Outer Limits from Bridwell.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - May 22, 2006 - 01:37am PT
Jaybro, different "Will from SLC" ...

my friend and climbing partner at ORG:

Seems that a lot of my partners climb wide, here is Will again with his famous climbing pants:

Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 22, 2006 - 09:20am PT

I had forgotten (Outer Limits/Bridwell/Hargis)! There was another story! Hargis for some reason decided that the thing to do was to feed off of other guys, rather than come forth with his own, new ideas. He was a good climber too which leaves him no excuse.

Here we were, 1970-1972, with literally thousands of incredible routes still to be done, as it turns out in retrospect, and this wraithlike oddity cannot do the personal work to see ANY of this potential all around him, but rather chooses to make his issue simply trying to outdo and "best" other men in a creepy, stalkerlike manner on projects that usually were shorter and not too important. He was real passive-aggressive, but now that I think about it, he had to be, since any one of the rest of us could have easily wrecked his BBQ and would have, had he been more direct in his intentions. His powerful brother,Tom, also weird, was at least more direct but similarly unfriendly.

But I guess the more significant thing for me was this was the end of my stimulating friendship with Schmitz. We had been climbing alot, really well, and I was just coming into my better climbing, 22 yrs old. He had been in the Valley for a few years, kind of sponsored my rise in the ranks, and even had me meet his legendary dad, Alla. But everything has an end, except sausages, they have two.

Best to you, PH

Trad climber
May 22, 2006 - 03:05pm PT
I am leaving for yosemite tomorrow morning (Tuesday) very early. And "Peter Pan" is on my hit list of climbs to do. After bouldering at Stoney Point and talking to Bob Kamps about offwidths and chimneys, he recommened this climb to me. So in honor of kamps, I have been wanting to do this route. And finding this post today on Peter pan and all the info that I need motivates me even more to climb it. The biggest gear I have is 4.5, two 5 and two #6 cams and two bigbros #3 #2. Wish me luck. Armando (Pasadena)
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
May 22, 2006 - 03:08pm PT
Do you use jam on Peter Pan? ;-)

I've done Peter Pan but not Peter Left. I actually like climbing around that area of Cap - Wendy, JM Barrie, Captain Hook.

Peter, as has been mentioned on another thread, Ed Barry was pretty darn strong too.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 22, 2006 - 07:49pm PT

No question, Ed Barry and his friend Joe Divera were/are both superstrong, and more importantly really masterful climbers, still are.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 22, 2006 - 08:17pm PT
In the Index Town Wall climbing guide, we gave the FA credit to the people who "did the work" (the people who found it and cleaned it, bolted it in some cases). So if someone else happens to jump the project and lead it the night before, they don't get any credit. It cuts down on the b.s.

Sometimes there are rare cases where the route is cleaned and then the person is unable to lead/free it. But usually the cleaning is the hard part and the actual climbing is not exactly state-of-the-art.

Similarly, for some very hard climbs, repeat ascents are also worth noting in the climbing history.
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 25, 2006 - 05:52pm PT
Here is photo of the crux, with the late Pat Savageau just above it, taken from the belay in 1999.


Trad climber
May 26, 2006 - 12:21am PT
Nice picture. I gotta get up there. Ed thanks for starting this one.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 7, 2010 - 03:01am PT
It is a great line, a beautiful location, and a tough 5.9 (Kamps rated it 5.8, which made it into Roper's Red guide).

In 1972, I was allegedly going to teach Vern Clevenger how to climb offwidths, after introducing him to the pillars outside Eschelman Hall at Berkeley. He ended up leading the whole climb, while I followed like an obedient puppy.


Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
May 7, 2010 - 10:02am PT
Just came upon this thread---brings back memories...I had an epic on Peter Pan BITD, perhaps this was what Peter was referring to when he wrote "Richie...displayed a level of power that seemed only fabled. And then he would get spanked on 5.8 and 5.9 cracks sometimes." I did lots of Yosemite routes from 5.8--5.10 in the early seventies, and had vast and various problems with 5.10 offwidths, but Peter Pan was the unique route under 5.10 (I think it was 5.8 at the time) that burned me.

I don't remember much of Peter Pan, but I do remember a straight-in crack of fist size and larger that was the scene of my fiasco. This was in the days before nuts, and the "pin list" I had been given for this pitch had a single 4" bong and a 1" angle as the only protection. (The 1" angle went into some kind of flake inside the crack.)

So I'm thrutching my way up this crack somewhere above the 1" angle, wondering when I should place the bong, and putting it off as long as possible because I don't want it to be too low. A slight widening just barely allowed by to slip my knee in. Unfortunately, I hadn't learned about locking the knee by bending the leg back and bracing the foot outside the crack, so when I shifted a little weight to the knee, it slide down an inch or so and jammed.

Well, worse than jammed. As was the fashion at the time, I was wearing a pair of knickers, and this particular pair had a metal buckle just under the knee which rolled over a bone, into a slight concavity inside the crack, and locked my knee in place kind of like a ballnut in a pocket.

I was stuck. Totally stuck. Frantic thrashing seemed only to lock my knee tighter, and the pressure on it, which was increasing, was also causing it to swell. And hurt. A lot. I got kinda panicky, which made me forget for a while that I still had the 4" bong with me. But eventually it dawned on me that I had it, so I placed it and tried to use it to help with the extraction of my knee. At this point, I'm leaning on the bong, I've got the non-jammed foot planted flat against the wall, and I'm trying to raise the knee and extract it with all the "fabled" strength Peter mentions.

No doubt, what was called for was some calm, sensitive, careful maneuvering of the sort you'd do nowadays to remove a recalcitrant nut. But I was way too freaked out for that, and with great effort eventually managed to tear my knee out of the crack, leaving shreds of skin, knicker material, and the offending buckle behind.

A retreat was then in order, and I have never been back to Peter Pan in the intervening years. Even now I can conjure up the welling panic of that stuck knee, and think this is one climb I won't ever be revisiting.

Trad climber
May 7, 2010 - 10:16am PT
Thanks for the story. Sounds scary. Let me know if you want to go up for another go.
We'll take some cams and bigbros. Ha ha.
Climb on!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
May 7, 2010 - 10:31am PT
I noticed upthread that the link to the photo of Savageau just above the crux and proceeding into the long squeeze chimney was broken. Here it is again:

scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
Mar 25, 2014 - 11:46am PT
Wow, this is quite a thread.
I climbed this in 1975, I believe, with Rob Muir.
I mainly recall going a long long way in squeeze mode, and getting the rope
stuck on rappel. It just wouldn't pull, so I prussicked up, made a little
adjustment, I guess, and came back down. Identical setup, really, but the
rope pulled fine this time.
You're way up above the Valley floor.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Mar 25, 2014 - 12:18pm PT
Our motivation for going way up there to do Peter Pan in the mid 70's was the cool Galen Rowell photo from Vertical World of Yosemite of the climber doing the undercling on pitch 2.

Tube chocks for pro?!?! Anybody every take a long fall on one of those and had it hold?

Trad climber
Washington DC
Mar 25, 2014 - 12:29pm PT
I think this is a can't miss climb and the views are incredible. Normally hardly any folks up there to boot.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Mar 25, 2014 - 02:34pm PT
Tube chocks for pro?!?! Anybody every take a long fall on one of those and had it hold?

After my 1972 trip up Peter Pan, I made some tube chocks out of 1 1/2" OD aluminum tubing, and one of these held a short fall a couple of years later when I was thrashing my way up Paisano Jamcrack. You would have thought that my technique would have improved by then, but I was still in "struggle" mode. It took me several years to calm down on the lead in an OW.


Oakland, CA
Mar 25, 2014 - 04:05pm PT
Other routes up near PP that would be good to check out after doing this one? Wendy - what's that one like?
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 25, 2014 - 05:28pm PT
history and status of some of those climbs can be viewed here:

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Apr 16, 2014 - 03:05am PT
Oh man, I'm putting this one on the to-do list.

I'd wait and post a photo trip report but I will just add to this later when the photos are available...

Ed, it's been ... seven years and 11 months! Are the photos available yet?
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Apr 16, 2014 - 05:07am PT
Talk IS cheap. Look at this forum if you are not convinced!

The story about the right side cunningly named “Peter Left” by Hargis is a classic one....This marked the end of my enthusiasm for Kim. At the time it really mattered as we were all trying to make our mark in climbing.--Pietro Haan

I've only heard tat and rumor until now, Pietro, and this really cleans up the story of the right side's FA for me. I was living in Camp 4 when you had your moment of doubt and pain; I did not realize that it was St. Kim who had a hand in cleaning it with you; and my own sense of fair play was tweaked as a result.

Following that episode, I swore never to do that to a fellow climber when I learned of the skulduggery.

From the last remark in your quote, it sounds as if the water passed under the bridge some time ago, and I certainly hope that this is so. You have both matured long since as men and as climbers.

I climbed this as Jeff Mathis' second that year (1971). It was impressive to us both and it marked a high-water mark in our history as a team.

Following it was easy. My size is such that I fit into smaller spaces than physical specimens like yourself, who I recall as "cut and chiseled" but over-sized for the wide game. Your inherent strength is needed when confronted by anything harder than this grade of any length.

But the smaller frame can get inside and successfully wedge while throwing the inside knee up and locking, assuring progress. It needs no pro in there, as it's just a matter of repetition. I can see that off the couch a person may find it's dead solid 5.8-ish in there, not 5.7-ish.

When I got Andy Cox up there, he bailed on the second pitch, leaving me to lead basically all three pitches. He was new to cracks, you see, and could not get the part past the undercling. It's kind of funny, because he needed my help to rescue gear he and George Meyers left at the bottom of the Harding Slot and found me in the Mountain Room with my girl and explained that he needed me on the East Face of the Column in order to reclaim their gear. (Plus, I had iron which he lacked.)

It was the first time anyone besides Mathis had asked me to do anything longer than a Grade Three climb.

Today Jeff is in the same physical shape (round) as you are nowadays, while I could still fit inside with no problem, I am happy to say.

I COULD still do the climb, but the approach does not seem worth my time. And we never saw any fixed lines going up the approaches back then, by the way.

I loved the Haan-ish description of Me da Hargis as a "wraithlike oddity!"


He gave the rep of NW climbers a black eye in the Valley, despite other conventional success. It was bad juju, plain and simple, and there are undercurrents here about that which need not be expressed.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 16, 2014 - 11:44am PT
the lack of images is a funny story, told elsewhere...

for some reason I had not put film in the camera, but managed, but pushing buttons in various random sequences to get the camera to behave as if it had film in it... the evidence being the whirring sound of the film advance, the frame counter, etc... though something always seemed a bit odd during that episode.

At some point it seemed strange enough that I decided to risk the destruction of the images and opened the back of the camera, thus revealing the absence of film.

I think there were at least three climbing outings which went unrecorded, Peter Pan being one (Chockstone Chimney and Split Pinnacle were the other two).

Perhaps I'll venture back onto those climbs and shoot images, but the images I was waiting for never existed, at least not on film.

Looking back on the events of our youth is like peering at the edge of the universe, the farther back we seek a scene the faster it is receding from our view, shifting its spectrum, and subject to forces beyond our empirical inquiry though fraught with the convictions of our theorizing.

And we all expand in that time, but our biology probably exceeds the geology of which we often refer.

Talk is cheap, by any account, but at the end of a long night, we are drunk with little concern of the cost in coin of the path that brought us there.

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Apr 16, 2014 - 01:46pm PT
le bruce, the first two on the West Buttress round out the day pretty well. Maybe finish on Peter Pan, on that ledge, with a beer.

(This is classic: "I COULD still do the climb, but the approach does not seem worth my time.")

San Jose, CA
Apr 16, 2014 - 05:00pm PT
bump for Gary who is "brilliant"
Still no promised photos of him leading Peter Pan.
But here Gary on Cream in 2008

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Apr 17, 2014 - 02:43am PT
At some point it seemed strange enough that I decided to risk the destruction of the images and opened the back of the camera, thus revealing the absence of film.

Bummer!! I remember many times the film accidentally getting rolled back into the cartridge without ever having actually loaded onto the spool. Zero exposures taken. Whole roll of film wasted. I do not miss film. At all.

Big Wall climber
So Cal
Apr 17, 2014 - 03:30pm PT
I went up to Peter Pan area last weekend in perfect weather & found the area terrific! My friend & I did the first 2 pitches of West Buttress first with the 5.9 direct start. This was really classic with some fist size crack leading to a fun flake and the belay anchors atop the 1st pitch. The Reid book says nothing about the gear required but on Mountain Project, it was suggested to have a 6" piece for the roof near the start of the 2nd pitch. I thought this was key to have a big BD#6 for the funky transition of laybacking the wide section before hitting the face moves out of the wide slot. Above, you gain a Wheat Thin type crack that sounds hollow but seems solid enough. You only climb on this flake for a few moves before moving left again into a super hand sized crack/flake that shoots upwards for another 90' to the belay. The final 20' to the belay go up a 5" crack that had I brought a BD #5 cam I would have gladly placed but, alas I left it on the ground & had to go for it without it. The rope at this point comes dangerously near the edge of the sharp flake unless you have a bunch of long runners to keep the rope clear of the flake's edge.

I think this is one of the more overlooked classic pitches on El Cap. Super quality, great views & exciting moves on great rock. I will definitely be doing these pitches again soon!

We also did the right side of Peter Pan, called Peter Left which is reminiscent of the Good Book I thought. A 5.7 first pitch leads to a nice pinnacle / exfoliation pinnacle with a pair of newer bolts, gear to 4" is nice to have. A brief move the belay up pitch follows to the base of a 50' corner that is 3.5" to 5.5" in width. The guide says its 5.10 b or c offwidth but I was able to lieback most of it until I was able to get some good fist jams. Above, some awkward wideness led me to some nice, new belay belay bolts without modern rings or chains. The final, money pitch lies above. The Reid book says 5.9 hands to a 5.10b lieback. It was more like hand & fist with doubles of 3.5" to 4" gear needed, along with at least 1 camn in the 5" range. This final pitch looks intimidating but it has some wonderful face edges that offer nice rests and allow for one to place gear from a comfortable stance. The final section is termed a 5.7 squeeze but we liebacked it at 5.9 and it neede a 5 to 6" piece to make if sane & fun. The ledge on top of Peter Pan is like the Bismark, fully flat and nice. The route is an overlooked gem, go do it!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Aug 14, 2014 - 09:29pm PT

A Ledge With a View.Not a stellar shot but adequate, since there are so few photos posted here.
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