Fear no evil (5.9R); Lovers Leap obscurity TR


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Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 9, 2009 - 02:39am PT
Fear no Evil is a good route, but if you screw up you may well die. But consider this: by electing to drive to the Leap on HWY50 on a weekend you're already putting your life in your hands. By doing this route, you're just leaving your life in the balance a little longer. Plato said "No one knows whether death, which people fear to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good”, however, to avoid taking the chance, you may find these notes useful.

The good: the cruxes on the first 2 pitches are bolt protected. And the first two anchors are double bolts.
The bad: all the bolts are scary 80's-tastic SMC hangers on 1/4" bolts. Let's call these a 'necessary evil'.

Get used to clipping these; this is from the second belay anchor.

See no Evil:
This route hits you early with the runouts: the first bolt is about 20 feet up (protecting the 1st pitch crux) but the second is higher than 40, and there's a traverse to get to it. That would be a big worry if you were planning on falling, but you're not; as on most of this route the holds are large and the dikes are solid. There is the usual balancing up on a knee- or thigh-high dike in order to grab another one above your head, but this isn't Power Lust.
Hear no Evil:
Christine was woefully misguided when she suggested bringing gear up to 2". You're not getting anything in nearly that big unless you veer onto Haystack early on. The first piece of 'gear' is going to be your unusually focused attempt to sling a crappy knob, quite a few feet after the second bolt. The next gear is after reaching a flake that looks good from the ground. Bring your micronuts, in fact bring a full set of stoppers since (like Fantasia) there are quite a few chances to use them on this climb. And bring any microcams you have too, since that's all that going into this flake.
Speak no Evil:
A few delicate moves after the flake you reach the double bolts, which is the first in an exercise in crap anchors. What demon possessed the man who threaded these bolts with slings and then rapped on them, without using a biner? Way scarier than the second pitch, if you ask me.

Between two evils, I always like to take the one I've never tried before.
-Mae West   
There is a large stopper placement immediately off the first belay (on the right), and the wise will actually use it since it will quiet your belayers fears of trying to catch a 20ft+ factor 2 if you futz up before clipping the first bolt on the second pitch. After clipping that bolt you have the route crux, and it's a doozy. If you've read Royal's first ascent description of Fantasia (Advanced Rockcraft) then you'll be pleased to hear that the three-breasted woman makes a second appearance. In the spirit of adventure I won't reveal her secret, but in the spirit of fairness I will hint that lanky basterds such as myself will have a much easier time charming her.

Looking up at the second pitch
Flushed with success, you will ascend with serenity and precision to the second belay anchors, which exhibits the most egregiously obtuse example of the American Death Triangle I've ever seen.
As you set off on the third pitch you may notice that clipping the laughably protruding piton 10 ft up doesn't bother you anymore. That’s because you've been admitted into a world where gear is optional and falling simply isn't conceivable. This is the closest I've come to understanding the motivation of the soloist and getting sucked into that reality. However, this dream-state ended abruptly as I attempted to ambitiously finish over the steep overhangs at the top of east wall and was stymied by a thick layer of lichen on an otherwise blank face. This necessitated a little disconcerting downclimbing action whilst I wondered where my last piece was, and a humble sidestepping left onto the last 20 ft of haystack. Going right and finishing a la Fantasia was an option too.
Gear: focus on the microcams and a full set of nuts and micronuts. You'll put a few finger sized cams in too (1 set of cams, up to 1"), bring runners to extend everything and some of that thin (8-10mm dyneema) webbing to sling knobs. Bring a thin, light rope since you don't want rope-drag pulling you off, and the rope is more for the followers benefit than yours. You’ll be surprised how quickly you move up this climb since you don’t have to place much gear. Obviously any rain would demand an immediate retreat onto haystack, which is accessible on the left for most of the climb. You can bail from the first belay anchor with a 70M (or 60M with maybe a little easy downclimbing), but you’ll need to sacrifice a few biners and some new webbing, which itself would not be an evil.   

I've got evil in me as much as anyone, some desires that scare me. Even if I don't give in to them, just having them scares the living bejesus out of me sometimes.
-Dean Koontz

Bill Sherman

Mountain climber
Thousand Oaks, CA
Sep 9, 2009 - 02:53am PT
Looks pretty stout. You never can trust that Robbins guy!

Trad climber
Vacaville Ca,
Sep 9, 2009 - 03:38am PT
You make this thing out to sound like some sort of death route.

I didn't think it was much of a big deal. Just a short step up from Fantasia if that. The gear was quite good (didn't notice any knobs to sling), bolts looked in decent shape and the climbing is quite moderate between gear placements.

My take on the route was it starts with 25ft of 5.6 to a bolt. A quick slabby move then more 5.6- to the second bolt. Another move or two, some big dikes and then a crack with bomber cams and offset nut possibilities to the anchors. The second pitch climbs easy dikes to a bolt, makes a move or two and then goes into a sorta shallow corner groove to a funky section where a pin appears just in time. Next up is a series of low angle ladder dikes to the anchors. The last pitch climbs up about 15ft left of the 3rd pitch (crux for me) mantle of Fantasia then finishes on the easy (dirtyish) roofs just left of Fantasia.

Really, it's no drama. 5.6 runouts between decently protected 5.8/9 moves. Good stuff.

Nice TR by the way. Good on you for stepping outside the box and climbing something off the beaten track.

Judging by your photo of the anchor bolt I could be wrong about their condition. Guess I just wasn't paying attention.

Trad climber
Nor Cal
Sep 9, 2009 - 09:37am PT
That first pitch is one of my favorites, protected just enough. A couple of times we have TR it to stay out of the way of other climbers. Good Times! Years ago WWen I did the whole route those knobs were tricky took us a while to figure out. I thought it was the only difficult spot. A couple of years ago on a cold windy day my buddy and I back off of the knobs, at 5ft 6 inches it seemed a real reach- don't know if was just a bad day or old age. And Yea, the bolts are shiity, I wouldn't want to fall.
Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Sep 9, 2009 - 10:50am PT
death route or trivial romp, this was a nice TR. Thanks for posting it!

Social climber
Davis, CA
Sep 9, 2009 - 11:38am PT
Cool! Haven't heard much about this one, thanks for posting. Those bolts look a little dicey for sure! Probably about 25-30 years old now...

Trad climber
northern CA
Sep 9, 2009 - 12:03pm PT
Nice TR!

...the laughably protruding piton 10 ft up...

Last time I climbed Fantasia there were a couple guys coming up Fear No Evil more-or-less parallel to us. We could only see them occasionally but I recall that somewhere near the top I watched the leader make a couple moves up, then pause and reconsider, and back down. Then he would go back up, then down. It took awhile but eventually he went for it and I suspect he was somewhere around that piton you mention.

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 9, 2009 - 01:30pm PT
Is that an old Rick Sumner route?

Social climber
Sep 9, 2009 - 02:27pm PT
It's a Jay Smith & Norm Booth route. I went up there with Sumner, but his arm was healing from a solo fall in Joshua Tree, so we traversed off on an unprotected variation of MDA. We called it "Broken Arms Are For A$$holes".

"Fear No Evil" is good! I was wondering about the condition of those bolts.

Almost to the first bolt.

Photo by Blitzo.

Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 9, 2009 - 02:46pm PT
I did a route around there with Sumner a long while back. I can't remember what he called it but he said he put it up. He penciled in the route in my old red guidebook. It goes between Prep H and Fantasia and is an independent line almost to the top where it joins prep h.

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Sep 22, 2009 - 08:41pm PT
Bump for the new bolts!

where ever the work is this month
Sep 23, 2009 - 11:33pm PT
Ah, the three-breasted woman. Yes, she almost denied me. 5'6 possibly a minimum height for pulling that one off.

Trad climber
northern CA
Jun 28, 2010 - 09:18pm PT
Finally got to climb this route last weekend and it was great fun! Beta-wise I can't (or won't) add much to what's already been said but agree that, despite the runouts, all the hard moves are just above a bolt or piton. Also, the biggest piece I placed was a red alien (at least until wandering over to Haystack on the 3rd pitch). Here are a few more pictures to add to the mix.

First of all, Fear No Evil is apparently becoming VERY popular. Here you can see one, two...FIVE more climbers waiting in line behind my partner at the base! Well, in all honesty we didn't watch them climb so it's possible they were actually waiting for Haystack.

Fear No Evil or Haystack?  The approach is the same.
Fear No Evil or Haystack? The approach is the same.
Credit: Trad Muenter

Approaching the 2nd bolt on the first pitch:

Credit: Trad Muenter

On the second pitch whenever an opportunity to place gear appeared, I took it. Especially since most of the placements were only psychological anyway.

Credit: Trad Muenter

I even got to use my blue-black hybrid alien.

The blue-black hybrid alien in situ
The blue-black hybrid alien in situ
Credit: Trad Muenter

And finally, here's my partner hanging comfortably off the nice, new anchor bolts at the top of the 2nd pitch. Thanks, Mr. Bolt Replacement Man (mucci)!

Credit: Trad Muenter


Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
Jun 28, 2010 - 09:22pm PT
I thought it was scary..here's a scanned slide of Eric Collins on p2 back in the mid-1980s.


Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Jun 28, 2010 - 09:32pm PT
First of all, Fear No Evil is apparently becoming VERY popular. Here you can see one, two...FIVE more climbers waiting in line behind my partner at the base!

What??? NO way!

What you have down there are five people in line for Haystack looking up at you with their crisp new SuperTopos wondering with concern and shaking their heads at how you managed to get so far off route on Fantasia.

That route seems to only be popular with those who have climbed it.

Nice job up there Trad!
scuffy b

Eastern Salinia
Jun 28, 2010 - 09:33pm PT
American Triangles are so over rated...

Good writing!!

Trad climber
northern CA
Jun 28, 2010 - 09:49pm PT
...wondering with concern and shaking their heads at how you managed to get so far off route on Fantasia.

Speaking of which, if you look close at the 3rd picture you can see an arm on Fantasia. It was busy at the Leap last weekend!

Trad climber
The land of Fruits & Nuts!
Jun 28, 2010 - 09:58pm PT
"Out to Lunge"... Yeah, that's a good one for sure.

But "Dancin Feet" takes the cake for sure as far as leap run outs go.

Talk about taking a 90ft skidder strait into the dirt. .10d my ass too! Must be something missing on that route, cuz ho-lee-shizz!

Trad climber
Lander, WY
Jun 29, 2010 - 11:34am PT
I agree with Salamanizer that Fear No Evil isn't that big a deal, with the qualifier that if you haven't done a lot of climbing at the Leap, it would scare the sh#t of you. But I don't think it's anything like, say, Ozzie or Fantasia.
Still, a nice story.

Social climber
Davis, CA
Jun 29, 2010 - 11:47am PT
Hey Trad, nice going!

I dug up your Between the Lines write up after I did it last week, only to confirm what Petch told me: I was off route.

i did the first pitch which was great. I would note that the pin that is before the chains is now gone. I protected it poorly with a bad green alien and a tiny RP. Don't fall!

Second pitch, I followed the curving crack left, and surmounted that first roof out that way. After that, it was dikes and lichen to my right, and the slightly dirty crack paralleling east crack to the left. I took the crack, should have looked at the topo! Probably 5.8-9 if you do the route the way I did, never found that flaring tiny crack crux.
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