The First Amendement, Le Petit Cheval IV 5.11a
Avg time to climb route: 4-8 hours
Approach time: 1.5-2 hours
Descent time: 1.5-2 hours
Number of pitches: 10
Height of route: 900'
OverviewThe First Amendment is a newer route and has only seen a handful of ascents. It climbs mostly solid, well-protected cracks but the route remains a little dirty. As the route is climbed more, it will clean up further and likely become a classic in the area. The crux is short, well-protected, has a clean fall,
and is an excellent place for aspiring 5.11a climbers to push themselves at the grade. The route is still quite adventurous and a great choice for someone looking to go a little off the beaten path.
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Route HistoryThe First Amendment was first climbing in September of 2009 when Chris McNamara was visiting the Northwest and assisting Ian Nicholson with this book. For their first climb, they went up the Southwest
Rib together in 26 minutes, and Chris McNamara claimed it was just as good as anything in Tuolumne.
McNamara was feeling adventurous and asked Nicholson, “Are there any faces you have been looking at that haven’t been climbed?” The pair was planning to attempt to link up Liberty Crack and the Thin Red Line, but Nicholson pointed out the large, obvious corner just left of center on the northeast face of Le Petit Cheval. They pulled over, stared up at the face and starting re-racking.
They took the usual approach as for the Spontaneity Arête, but near the base of the ridge they broke left looking for the base of the corner. After traversing a couple hundred yards, they could see the corner and soloed up what is now Pitch 1 to a large ledge beneath the corner.
The corner didn’t look nearly as inviting as it had from the road, but a nice and clean-looking corner to its left did. So the pair launched into the unknown, climbing every solid, continuous crack, which was somewhat dirty because of the lower elevation. At mid-height around Pitch 5, the pair ran into some route finding problems and wondered if they were going to get shut down. After several attempts to climb out to the left, they discovered a nice finger crack just barely hidden and directly above them.
What is now Pitch 6 look devious, but to McNamara’s and Nicholson’s surprise it went without problem. On the 7th and crux pitch, Nicholson led off right up McNamara’s head. The climbing was difficult with very thin protection right off the belay. Ten feet above the belay, Nicholson broke a foot hold. McNamara sat down to take in the slack, sure that Nicholson was about to land directly on him. Instead, Nicholson’s feet landed on either side of McNamara’s body and Nicholson’s butt missed McNamara’s helmet but an inch. Nicholson jumped right back on the pitch and fired it second go. Three more easier pitches led them to the summit ridge where they simul-climbed to the top.
In 2011, Ian Nicholson returned with Andy Dahlen to clean up this route, add bolts to two of the belays and add a bolt to the crux pitch to avoid someone else getting the “ass hat” that McNamara nearly experience two years prior.
Nicholson and McNamara choose the name “The First Amendment” because it tied in with the revolution-named theme in the area, and because Ian was working on a book for McNamara. The writing theme and the First Amendment (The right to freedom of the press) seemed perfect.
StrategyYou’ll likely have the First Amendment to yourself even on a busy weekend. This is a newer route and has only a handful of ascents. The rock is solid ... [full history for SuperTopo members only!]
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