Traveler Buttress, Lover's Leap, Main Wall 5.9


Lake Tahoe, California, USA

  • Currently 5.0/5
Avg time to climb route: 4 hours
Approach time: 25 minutes
Descent time: 30 minutes
Number of pitches: 4
Height of route: 600'
There are four reasons why you must climb this route: amazing line, stomach-turning exposure, flawless rock quality, and a fascinating history. Of all the Lover’s Leap routes, Traveler Buttress is one of the most varied as it delivers steep face, straight in cracks, wide climbing, and runout dike-hiking. It is a desirable climb for many reasons, one of them being that it was dubbed a “50 Classic Climb of North America” by Steve Roper and Allen Steck. Royal Robbins also thought highly of the route, “Personally, I think the best route at Lover’s Leap is Traveler Buttress. It takes first place for quality of climbing, variety, situation, and length.” However, don’t be fooled by the routes popularity: this route is difficult and committing. The climbing is sustained at 5.8 and 5.9 and you must negotiate both burly offwidth as well as a 70-foot 5.5 runout.
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FA: (below Main Ledge) Steve Roper, Steve Thompson, and Gordon Webster, 1966. (above Main Ledge) unknown.
FFA: (above Main Ledge) Dick Long and Allen Steck, 1965.

Traveler Buttress was done free in 1966 from talus to summit, perhaps the first 5.9 at the Leap. The name, for which I admit responsibility, demands that I tell an obscure tale. Pink rock near the crux jamcrack reminded me of the word “pinko,” once a pejorative for a communist. Pinko didn’t seem like a suitable name, so my then-fertile brain conjured up “fellow traveler,” another name for a commie rat. This seemed too cumbersome, so minutes later I had it: Traveler Buttress. Now it’s often called Traveler, which changes the original meaning entirely. So it goes. A grand climb, in any case.

Don’t bypass the first pitch by traversing in high on the Main Ledge. You will miss a steep 5.8 dike journey and a thought provoking flared jamming 5.8 crux. Falls from here have resulted in injury.

On the notorious second pitch, the dikes vanish to leave a smooth and holdless 20-foot 5.9 offwidth. The 5.10b R variation on the left is heads-up. Bring a 4.5” cam, search for hand jams, and grovel. Higher, the crack narrows to a fantastic hand crack.

The third pitch climbs one of the most exposed aręte’s at Lover’s Leap before turning to lower-angle but runout dike hiking. Finding a spot to belay can be tricky. The last pitch continues up mostly moderate dikes to the rim.
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Source: SuperTopo Guidebook Staff Last update: August 16, 2014
Lover's Leap, Main Wall - Traveler Buttress 5.9 - Lake Tahoe, California, USA. Click to Enlarge
One of the 50 Classic Climbs of North America.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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