this the "right" way at the top of NE Buttress?


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Trad climber
Mar 22, 2007 - 11:06am PT
That looks like the finish we climbed. Nice pictures Clint.

Also, if you think pitch 6 is 5.9, you really are a Valley climber.


B loop site 15
Mar 22, 2007 - 11:10am PT

Lets put together a big ole' pin rack and do some training. I think we can do it with 2 bivies. I am up to the challenge.

raymond phule

Mar 22, 2007 - 11:22am PT
"Also, if you think pitch 6 is 5.9, you really are a Valley climber."

Thought pitch 6 was normal 5.9 but pich 7... 5.14? I couldn't understand how to move at all in that squeeze chimney.

Ok, it was my first squeeze and I still cant climb them but 5.8?

I think we decided on the ledge below the corner who should lead which 5.9 pitch. I didn't know what squeeze stood for on the topo but opted for the first one. I sure was happy about that choice at the top of pitch 7 :-)

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2007 - 11:43am PT

you're right... I meant pitch 7.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 22, 2007 - 12:58pm PT

Yeah the p7 5.8 squeeze is not easy. The first time I did it, I couldn't figure out how to exit it. I was grabbing these ridiculous sloping crimps on the arete of the flake on the left side, but unable to pull up on them. My strength was giving out and I was about to do the "controlled ooze" back down the chimney, when I inadvertantly squeezed the right side flake with my thighs to "slow my descent". But that manuver held me securely and let me rest my arms! Soon I was doing short pullups on the sloping crimps and moving the thigh pinch up... victory. This time it seemed pretty friendly - I used a diagonal body position so I could use my knees, plus a chicken wing, to reach the thigh pinch. The fixed pins for pro on the right wall are pretty friendly, too.

I'm glad the photos bring some good memories! (Maybe a few epic memories as well!).

Trad climber
Mar 22, 2007 - 01:15pm PT
Great photos...brings back a flood of memories - like the smell of bay trees. I recall the belay spot before the traverse to exit as being a really cool place.

Thank you very much for taking the time to post them.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 22, 2007 - 01:21pm PT

The 5.10a thin rating might be a bit of a sandbag. It was pullups on fingerlocks without much for the feet, and I have small fingers. I think my partner was saying something more like 5.10c. But the Meyers + Reid topos say 5.9 there, so I didn't want to bump it up too much. There is an even thinner crack just 3' left with a pin scar which I tried to climb at first, but it was even harder.

I encourage everyone to give it a few more laps, and try out all the finishes!

Thanks, Ray - I added a couple more shots.

I updated the topo of the alternative finishes to put approximate ratings on the ows (none of which I have climbed).

Trad climber
places you shouldn't talk about in polite company
Mar 22, 2007 - 02:28pm PT
as i recall i stopped at "11" because the alternative was bouldering the "10a thin" w/ rope drag (pulling over the edge of that ledge) and no reasonable exectation that if i fell i'd be kept off that ledge. we went right, but i have never been sure if that was "going the wrong way"....

Mar 22, 2007 - 02:42pm PT

Those are great photos of the route. The Northeast Buttress of HC is such a all time beautiful classic.

One of my all time favorites.
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Mar 22, 2007 - 02:54pm PT
Between p8 and p9 (on the photo of the topo) you can wander down and left (through a bush with rope drag) or go up the 4" 5.7. My parnter and I used to go down and left. We now go up the 4" and like it much better. It starts narrower than 4" and gets wider as you go. You can push a cam up depending on how big of cam you brought (a #4 friend for a ways is ok or a new #4 camalot works better). This is much cleaner and quicker than the alternate route.

Mar 22, 2007 - 03:33pm PT
A fine view indeed! The hike to the top is a must.

This is my euro friend showing me the euro way. He did pretty much the whole pitch like this.

The first time I did the route, my partner and I went left, I believe before the point in the picture in the first post, and I think we ended up with a short section of wide fingers and then two pitches of wide hands/fist. My second time was with the guy stemming the chimney, and I think we took the way straight up the line in the first post. I thought it was harder, certainly more awkward and strenuous. It was my partner's first weekend of a two-month stay in the Valley, and he went on to onsight the Rostrum, Astroman, Freestone, the Chouinard Herbert, and the Glowering Spot, and he still doesn't say that day on NE buttress was easy!
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Mar 22, 2007 - 03:53pm PT
I did it in April 2004, finally, and am still not sure how what we did at the top fits in with the topos. It may be the second from left line that's marked, without further information.

Pitches 6 - 8 were full value - Valley 5.9. We went left at the top of the main corner, as on the topo, but not far enough. Then straight up another corner for nearly two pitches. It got harder at the top (5.9?), and deadended at a roof and dirt. We then went left again a bit, to a tree you could sit in, at the base of a short offwidth. There was a clean corner/handcrack left of this point, starting well below where we were. It's probably the left hand variation on the topo - if you keep traversing left low down, you get to its base. Anyway, the offwidth is only a few moves, perhaps 15 m total, then eases off and ends at a long flat ledge. We moved left on this past the top of the corner, then up a short pitch of face climbing that quickly eased off to the top.

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 22, 2007 - 04:05pm PT
Great pictures! Thanks. I think I see now that I have always gone up the corner straight above "Belay 9". The crack at the top of my first picture is what I think you indicate as possible 10 OW ? and its fun but really awkward and involved much thrashing for about 5 feet, so much rumbing against the corner that I knocked my #2 camalot off my harness once (found hanging in the bushes at the base, no worse for the wear...).

I dont recall the tree at the base of the top 5.8 OW being dead, but it could have been.
Off White

Tenino, WA
Mar 22, 2007 - 08:32pm PT
I did it ages ago with a friend of a friend named Len from Jackson WY. Nobody called it anything but 5.9 back then. I don't think I've ever breathed as hard on a pitch as I did on that 5.8 squeeze, sweet blubbering jeebus. Len and I didn't really know each other, and we got a late start. A ways up, something about the 5.9 flare gave me the willies, and I bagged on the pitch, made Len lead two pitches back to back, which I think made him quite peeved with me.

Higher up, it got darker and darker, and as we reached the belay bush shown as #9 on the topo above, it started to rain. I led up the corner straight above, the one that k-man didn't enjoy either. It seemed like a good idea at the time because I could see a fixed piece with a white sling way way up there. It felt tough and dirty, getting slimier as the rain picked up, and Len began shouting up at me "c'mon, what's taking so long, hurry up, it's getting dark." I finally reached the fixed piece, long before having realized that this really wasn't the way everyone went.

Turned out the piece was one of these round knurled peck nuts with a white sling that once was a dark purple. I clipped the frightful thing anyway and had to make some grim lichenish leftward face traverse running with water, finally heaving my quivering body onto a decent ledge that was clearly on route again. Len's agitation diminished as he followed the pitch, with ample tension and a pendulum to skip the face climbing. His terse but polite "good lead" made it clear I had redeemed myself from my earlier display of weakness.

At the top, the sun was only showing half it's disk as it dropped over the horizon. Thoroughly trashed, we barreled down the hill and into darkness, using that sketchy navigation trick of using the greater night vision capability of peripheral vision by not looking directly at where you're going. We finally tumbled onto the road, loaded into the car, and made straight for the Four Seasons and a splendid dinner with ample drinks. I wish I could say it was the start of a beautiful friendship, but our ways parted, and I think I heard awhile ago that he'd died in an avalanche.

It'd be fun to go back up that thing with an earlier start, and maybe a few cams on the rack would be a welcome addition, but all that 5.10 on the topo makes it look much harder than it used to be.
The Warbler

the edge of America
Mar 23, 2007 - 12:52am PT
If you're climbing 5.10 up there, you're not going the easiest way. That's one of the beauties of that route.

It's a routefinding challenge in addition to it's test of all climbing techniques.

I regret not soloing it when I was young and foolish enough...
Wild Bill

Mar 23, 2007 - 01:10am PT
Durban, I'm a big fan of the Euro way. Thanks for that mungie pic.

Edit: removed THAT pic too - I'm such a dipsh*t tool I put up the wrong images. My bad!


Trad climber
Mar 23, 2007 - 01:13am PT
Fosberg and Deucy should post on the epic solo-trains of the mid/late 80's.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 23, 2007 - 05:38am PT
BadInfluence asked about Darko's shoes (5.10 Pitons). Here's Darko's reply:

I've heard very good things about them (they are 5.10 pitons).
Just about everyone liked them, they swore by their edging, smearing, etc.
I personally don't like them as much. I think the rubber that is supposed to help foot jams on the front just gets my foot stuck,
the edging is not as good and they aren't as comfortable as they are supposed to be for an all day shoe.
On the other hand, I must admit that I got size 9.5 despite the fact that the recommendation was for the street shoe size, 10 in my case.

Rick, the tree died recently. It still had dead leaves on it last November.
I modified the topo again to put "5.9? sustained" in the corner above (9), and to shorten the 5.8 ow; also to indicate it is a right facing corner.

Greg, none of the 5.10 in the topo above is mandatory.
I added "(var.)" to the right side variation at the start of p8.
I'm sure most people go straight above the belay, but I forced it right my first time up, because the Meyers topo said it was 5.8 that way.
It was a 5.10 finger traverse with my feet on glass just to leave the belay that way....

Social climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 23, 2007 - 11:09am PT

I like your evolving topo! So if indeed that corner is the one we do (and I think it is) then you might want to ammend it to say 5.9 awk followed by 5.6 no pro (unless you haul a #5 camalot up there, that would probably fit) It's stair stepped gully with a wide smooth crack in places. Its not too hard, but at the end of a long day and because the pro is so good on the rest of the route, it felt scary to me.


Trad climber
where the climbin's good
Mar 26, 2007 - 07:58pm PT
The only way I’ve ever climbed it is to go straight up that corner. That seems to be a natural line and very much in keeping with the character of the route. But now I think I’ll also check out one of those finishes on the left as well.

What Rick just said sounds about right for the corner. I’ve never thought the pitch runout although perhaps it is on the easier bits. I use one each of #3.5, #4, and #5 Friends. The number 5 Friend is good if you do the splitter ow pitch down lower. And on this final corner there is one awkward bulge that is #5 Friend size. I wouldn’t suggest anything bigger.

If Wild Bill would remove his pictures of Middle Cathedral—they are the wrong rock and too big for dial up—this thread would be a nice one to link into the beta page for the NEB. How about it, Bill?

Oh, but a good picture of Higher Cathedral showing this route taken from the Lower Spire would be cool if anybody had one of those.
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