Corrugation Corner, Lover's Leap, Main Wall 5.7
Lake Tahoe, California, USA
Avg time to climb route: 4 hours
Approach time: 25 minutes
Descent time: 30 minutes
Number of pitches: 3
Height of route: 500'
OverviewFrom a distance, Corrugation Corner deceivingly appears a low-angle weakness in the awesomely steep Main Wall. In reality, this is one of the steepest climbs in this guide and one of the steepest granite 5.7’s you will find anywhere. Instead of following the main corner, the route often pushed you out on a horrendously exposed arête. It is here that you will appreciate that “5.7” may accurately describe the technical difficulty of the moves, however, psychologically the moves feel like 5.10. Royal Robbins had this to say about the climb, “… the Corner still rates first place because of its magnificence as a corner: both from a distance and close up it is an elegant piece of rock architecture.” This may be the best climb at Lover’s Leap and it has the crowds to prove it. Approach the climb early and prepare yourself to wait behind slower climbers. There are a few variations throughout but unfortunately they do not help pass slower climbers.
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HistoryFA: Kurt Edsburg, et al, early 1960s.
StrategyThe pitch warms you up with sustained 5.6 stemming, a bulge, and then a fun hand traverse right. Miss the hand traverse and you’re in 5.9 offwidth terrain.
The second pitch is one of the steepest and most intimidating 5.7 pitches anywhere. A stemming corner leads to a hollow flake traverse left to a terrifying, but well-protected arête. At first glance the arête looks like 5.10, but it’s mercifully covered with good incut holds and cracks. Don’t hesitate to use the “beached whale technique” when pulling onto the belay ledge. Save 1-3” cams for the belay.
The third pitch starts with one of Lover’s Leap’s few mandatory chimneys followed by an exposed face traverse to the corner. Fifty feet of stemming and jamming then dike-hiking to the rim. A more sparsely protected 5.8 variation goes straight up from the wide crack instead of traversing right to the corner
ApproachPick up the Old Pony Express Trail 50 feet east of the campground bathrooms. After a few hundred yards, when perpendicular to the Lower Buttress, turn right onto a climbers’ trail. After 100 yards you reach the base of the Lower Buttress. Turn left on a faint climbers’ trail that skirts the base. After a steep 100 yards the trail angles left and moves into some small talus in a drainage. A faint trail winds its way toward the Main Wall and joins a more defined climbers’ trail before the Lower Main Wall. For Tombstone Terror and the first pitch of Traveler Buttress, move up and left onto Tombstone Ledge. For all other Main Wall routes, follow the trail up and right for 100 yards until you gain the Main Ledge and can move back left.
As an alternate approach that causes less erosion, walk the Old Pony Express Trail until you pass a large tree that fell across the trail and was cut out. Thirty feet farther is a trail that leads up the talus directly to Main Wall.
If climbing Traveler Buttress or Corrugation Corner, approach with only the gear, food, and water you need on the climb. If you pack heavy and leave extra stuff at the base, plan on spending an extra 45 minutes after the climb to recover it.
DescentAllow 20 minutes from the summit to the Old Pony Express Trail then another 10 minutes back to the campground. From the finish, find the climbers’ trail that heads east and parallel with the edge of the cliff. Hike for 10-15 minutes, eventually joining the East Wall descent to the Old Pony Express Trail. NOTE: Descending west from the summit seems faster but this way is tricky and not recommended.
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