Topic Author's Original Post - May 16, 2004 - 02:00pm PT
Any climbers looking for some easier practice at wide cracks, or just a good climb in the shade, should check out the Pharaoh’s Beard. We were up there the other day and were pleasantly surprised by how good the climb was. Reid calls the Regular Route 5.8 and gives it one star. It’s a bit harder than that, but also better.
On the first pitch he marks it as 5.8 and 8 inches. The crack is actually a perfect #5 Friend offwidth. The start of the crack is just a bit wider and more like 5.9 for a couple of moves before settling into the 5.8 OW. On the last pitch you start with a short squeeze chimney that is also probably 5.9 and exit this with a burly move out over a chockstone. The rest of the pitch is an open chimney that is the 5.7 bit that Reid marks. You get pro behind some chockstones and then there is a cool exit out to the top of the pinnacle which is out from the wall 3 feet.
We were expecting a dirty climb, but it is mostly clean. The only issue really is that you have to climb though a couple of trees—only bays, so no ants or sap. All the climbing protects very well, and there are two bomber bolts on the top. The fixed anchor at the first pitch ledge is bad, but there are good natural options if you belay here. I did the climb in two pitches by going on up to the tree on the left side using long runners around the corner. You could also stop on the ledge and then go to the top in one pitch (which might be better).
From the top we rapped to the ledge on a single 70 meter rope (just reached), then tied on a 60 meter rope and continued to the ground (this also just reached). It looks like two 60s would get you to the tree on the lower right which has slings and rings.
Even if you don’t have much experience at wider stuff, you don’t need a lot bigger pieces. Walk a #5 Friend up the OW and protect the wider start with a #2 Big Bro (if you wish). Most people would be happy with doubles from yellow Alien up to a 2.5 Friend and then singles up to the 5 Friend and maybe the tube.
The splitter crack on the face (Whisker) is worthy. The moves to the start seemed harder than the 11a Reid marks and were not protected. Most of the crack is mid-10 to low 11 and good climbing. The exit goes thin—thin crack, thin face. I couldn’t work out a sequence that seemed near 11d. It is easy to toprope off the bomber anchor.
The wall goes into the sun around 2. It’s not much farther than the Manana area, but the spree is rather loose. Working right before heading up seems to be the best bet.
This old post begs the question: how does ASCA feel about changing the location of bolts? There are three bolts at the top of the formation, which is sort of a narrow pinnacle, but there are two lumps of epoxy covering where the original bolts likely were, which is on top of the pinnacle, and apparently were set up so that one rapped into the chimney instead of out on the face. Now there are, on the face just below the top, a newish PETZL hanger and a brand-new ASCA bolt. It is not convenient to rap into the chimney; one feels compelled to rap the face now. I may be wrong, but it looks as if someone took it upon themselves to change the location of an existing anchor for the sake of their convenience, instead of replacing bolts in the same holes, as we have been led to believe is the ASCA stance. I would be interested to hear what the ASCA person who did this has to say before I unleash any volleys of slander.
Ben, I think Tom McMillan replaced that anchor, you'd have to ask him about the specifics.
Speaking from personal experience, I nearly always reuse the original holes, but there are definitely cases where I've moved the anchor bolts. By far the most common reason to move an anchor is that many old anchors were placed on horizontal surfaces with long slings running over an edge - a good plan if you're rapping from 1/4" bolts and don't want to have any pull in an outward direction (also the slings take some of the weight via friction with the rock). With modern bolts, it's safe to place on a vertical section of rock and use camo rap hangers, that way you don't get any brightly colored webbing as an eyesore.
Anyway, it completely depends on the specific case, so I think we ought to ask Tom about this one before discussing it.
I am anxious to hear what this Tom has to say. It may be that someone else moved the anchors and he merely replaced the bolts with newer hardware. However, if the original 1959 anchors were as I suspect, they had a perfect lead into the chimney with minimal webbing, and impossible to see from anywhere below.
I know that almost anything associated with bolts can be contraversial, but this anchor doesn't have anything to do with the route. It is just so you can get off the pinacle. Is the "historical, don't change anything crowd" so strict that you can't move the rap bolts a few feet for a better rap?
Going back to the original post, I also thought this was a pretty fun route.