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Big Wall climber
Long Beach, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 26, 2005 - 08:12pm PT
I know the Steck-Salathe is 5.9 but I was wondering if the harder parts were aidable if necessary? I do lead up to around 10a/b, but was wondering what the crux might be on it. If it's the chimney's that's cool, I would just suffer up them (and enjoy it) but my "hot greasy slab" limit is more like 5.9. Thanks for the input.

Also, is 5-6 days on NA Wall a reasonable estimate if we have taken 2 on Zodiac and 2.5 on TT? If not, does any one have any recommendations of a good one for 5-6 days (Muir, Dihedral??)

Phoenix, AZ
Apr 27, 2005 - 11:08am PT
SS is probably more like 10a/b anyway. Crux is supposed to be the Wilson Overhang now. The slab is probably one of the more managable pitches on the thing. The endless variety of wide cracks will demand way more of your attention. The route is just plain old school seriously BURLY from the get go to the top. Train those core muscle groups.

Social climber
Apr 27, 2005 - 12:44pm PT
Did the route free last may-

The cruxes of the route are aidable or avoidable by aid variations, but unless you are damn fast on aid, you will end up benighted with no good ledges to sleep at, and a multiday ascent, is well, way more work than I want to do. Also, you will need a sh#t load of wide gear to aid the route.(like a couple 8 in pieces and doubles of all the big camalots)

Also, the parties who will be freeclimbing the route will be pissed because you are too slow and passing can be tricky since most of the route is in a chimney, and even losing half an hour can just ruin the route since time is an issue on the route for most mortals who don't climb 5.11 trad onsight.

If you want to aid on the sentinal, do the chouinard herbert- The aid is straighforward, and the nature of the route is not the runout wide freeclimbing of the steck- much more civilized and french-freeable

Wait and do the steck when you can free the thing in a day-

If you want to know if you are ready, do the e. but of middle and then the NEB of Higher. If you like those routes and send them in an afternoon, you are ready for the steck

Trad climber
Apr 27, 2005 - 12:55pm PT
Did it last fall.

I didn't think the route was anywhere near as bad as the hype.
The wilson overhang is not the crux...and I'd rate it 5.9(maybe 5.9+) it's just not that bad...and it's not a sustained pitch.

The crux is the pitch below the narrows....flared, slick, chimneying... 5.10- but it is also fairly cruxy....only the first 25-30ft are 5.10. the Narrows are one of the coolest pitch's ever...and the mother of all grunts. The rest of the wide stuff really isn't that bad.

Have Fun!!


Sport climber
Venice, Ca
Apr 27, 2005 - 02:22pm PT
The Steck Salathea is a 5.10 minus route custom made for 5.11 climbers. A 5.10A climber could get up any of the pitches, but the problem is there are many 5.9ish leads stacked on top of each other. A honed and fit 5.11 crack climber can blast up the SS; most others will find the route a handful owing to pitch after pitch of stuff near their limit.


Big Wall climber
Long Beach, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 27, 2005 - 02:32pm PT
Thanks for the reply guys. I know it is best to free it and I probably will (I LOVE o.w. grunts/squeezes) and I do aid fairly fast. I also would never plan on a multi-day on it. Although I am not a 5.11 tradster, I appreciate the beta about the continuous 5.9ish climbing. I wouldn't be asking the question if I thought the route was going to be easy. Thanks again for the input.


Trad climber
Apr 27, 2005 - 09:04pm PT
I've been practicing squeeze chimneys to make my next ascent go better. The narrowest part of the Narrows is about 10 to 10 1/2 inches. The entrance is a little wider. The chimney move below the narrows pitch can easily be partly aided with a small cam and a sling. The Wilson overhang is well protected and burley anyway. Just two cents from mister "5.9 on a good day".

Trad climber
Apr 27, 2005 - 09:43pm PT
One more thing...When I was getting ready to do the route, friends who had done it several times gave me some good advice. They said the route start's out exactly how it climbs. In other words the first 2 or 3 pitch's are very good indicators as to the difficulty of the rest of the climb. If you have trouble with, or are moving slowly on the first couple of pitch' might want to git while the gitt'n is good!!!

But I really didn't think it was that bad(in fact I really liked the route!!).


NOT Fresno
Apr 27, 2005 - 11:21pm PT
SS Father-Son 1996?

This was back when I was a wee lad, just a whippersnapper, before I could grow a moustache or knew what girls were or how to make them work for me. So I was around 18. This is the age in cultures all over the world, where parents try to figure out how to make their snot-nosed son into a man. Junior's first hooker, say, or lashing with a cat-o-nine or some ceremony involving poison ants. My dad reckoned the Steck-Salathe might do the trick.

I didn't climb much at this age, .10a hands about my limit, with that limit reducing in reverse proportion to increasing crack size. Very heady stuff. My dad, though, was a hardy old-schooler who ate rocks and frowned at springy-thingies. He could've been Harding's granddaddy. He could've been Whymper's mentor. So, paraphrasing Largo, the only thing preventing me from roping up with my dad was the chance to rope up with the guy who roped up with Whymper, who was my dad.

Let's skip ahead a few paragraphs. My mom dropped us off at Four Mile trail at about four. We had one headlamp, cuz old-schoolers can't be bothered to carry two of them--it would actually be convenient. We thrashed our way toward some notch in the skyline that my dad proclaimed the start of the route. The ramp was a little scrambley but fine. And gray dawn revealed that notch, yes, that was the start. Wow. Geezers can home in on wide cracks in the dark.

What flamer said is true, the first pitches are the real deal. Wilson lurks pretty low, this being the good old days when people still called a lot of this crap 5.8. Now Chris Mac comes along and bumps the thing two grades and it's no fun anymore. But I digress. Wilson seemed hard. He's sort of a dick. The pitch either before or after that (the squeeze) is exactly as wide as the distance between my two ears. It'll let you know whether you'll fit in the Narrows. I doubt a helmet fits.

Then some jumbled crap climbing, manteling huge talus blocks and stuff. Then you sit on the Flying Buttress and eat the lunch of old schoolers, like gecko tails and spit. Rumor has it Chongo spent a week right here slurping relish packets. Then, if you're still pretending it's 1953, you can aid the Headwall. Because real men don't climb 5.9 cracks, they dog around on bolt ladders. Obviously. The slab pitch was gripping, although I was a headcase and sloppy with my feet. Got up it. But, again agreeing with flamer, the flare below the Narrows is greased death lightning waiting for soft gumbies to wander past. This pitch was 5.8 in the old guide, Mac calls it what, .10b? Your everyday run-of-the-mill holdless proless .10b flare smeared with Crisco and the thin blood of sport climbers.

We'll assume I wasn't killed and continued climbing. We can assume anything. The Narrows is the best pitch in the Valley. It's not really that hard, you sure as hell can't fall out of the thing. Nor can you move up. So feel free to hold your breath in there and nap all you like. There's half a dozen old cams to be had if you can reach them. Which you can't. I will say this, though: be solid on arm bars. Getting into the Narrows your upper body will be in the squeeze, whilst your wee gobied chicken legs dangle out under. It's like arm bar campusing. Another note, go out to the chockstone and pass your haul line underneath it so the little pig will swing free with a barely suppressed Soooeeee!

I don't really recall any of the rest of the climbing, except that it kept coming and coming. Everytime I thought it would ease off there was another steep nasty. You're drained by this point. Either that or you're not drained and you're thinking about simuling the Nose later on. But if you're like us, you'll top out at dusk, stumble down the gully to the other gully, stumble down that one, sharing the light of one lamp, miss the improbable stepthrough, go right into slabs, do battle with some satanic manzanitas, do a half dozen abseils off shrubberies and stout saplings, wander out onto Four Mile at about midnight, throw yourself Steck-like facedown in a creek, then walk back to Lower Pines because your mom, waiting since dusk, had been chased from the trailhead by gentle-hearted tools afraid she might nod off in her seat and technically become an OB commando and enemy of the state.

All true. Send it.

Trad climber
Apr 27, 2005 - 11:43pm PT
Damn Yo, I didn't see you when I was climbing but you must have been watching the whole time to describe my climb so well.

Apr 28, 2005 - 12:01am PT
Hell of a great tale yo ....... I loved it! .... "yo" described it perfect.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Apr 28, 2005 - 02:31am PT
When we did SS we didn't take anything bigger than a #4 friend. Got caught in a horrible thunderstorm in the Narrows. It was a veritable waterfall. I would jam myself up into the slot and then just get flushed back out. After a couple of tries I was finally able to stick.

Also, it is not over once you top out. The descent is long and involved. If you are fast, you can do it in daylight. If not, bring a good headlamp and a lot of patience.


Trad climber
Chita, Russia
Apr 28, 2005 - 11:24am PT
Great post, yo!
Thorouhly enjoyed it.


Big Wall climber
oakland, ca
Apr 28, 2005 - 11:34am PT
That's the best TR I've read in ages! Bravo!!!

Trad climber
Apr 28, 2005 - 03:35pm PT
Agreed!! That was awesome!!


Apr 28, 2005 - 04:26pm PT
Dogpile!... Yo, great account. Your writing is very entertaining/captivating. I hope it's as fun to write as it is to read... = ]

Social climber
Charlevoix, MI
Jul 10, 2008 - 02:38pm PT
Bump for a good, Great, TR by YO. Although it will be pushed off the front page by some political drivel, or stupid crotch shots.


Social climber
Boulder, Colorado!
Jul 10, 2008 - 02:46pm PT
Great read as usual. A bump for the great post and an attempt to flush the political stuff off the first (and second and third) page.

Gym climber
Jul 10, 2008 - 02:49pm PT
Your everyday run-of-the-mill holdless proless flare smeared with Crisco and the thin blood of sport climbers.

Ahh, I could smell that pitch as I read this...

Social climber
wuz real!
Jul 10, 2008 - 02:51pm PT
A fred of mine is trying to seduce me to the dark side and drag me up this rte during the facelift. Been up there twice, what's left to see?
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