This is an excellent route for climbers of all abilities. A nice cool breeze shelters you from the summer heat and the climbing is surprisingly clean for a deep dark chimney system at Lovers Leap.
This routes grade seems to get bumped up in every new guide that comes out. Supertopos is no exception with a grossly inflated rating of 5.7. Lets be honest, the thing is 5.5 and has always been since it was first rated way back when.
The chimney on the first pitch can be climbed around by stemming the crux and climbing on jugs to the right at 5.5. At the top of the second pitch (bushy ledge system) there are two ways to exit. The supertopo way is to climb up and left along the ledge system around the corner into a 4in low angle crack. From there you enter a steep gully until you reach a large chockstone/roof which you negotiate with hand jams and stems. From there it's easy 4th class to the rim.
The other way to go (the original and better way IMO)is to climb up from the second pitch and head right up a steep flaring clean corner jam crack system to a flat area with a deep cave behind it. Climb the face (good finger and pro cracks) to the right up and around the gaping maw that is above you to where the angle backs off abruptly. Follow the steep gully/chimney up until you can negotiate a final chockstone on it's right and up more steep gully to the top. This variation leads to a flat, clean perch on the tip of a buttress with spectacular views all around and a great vantage point with which it's easy to scope future routes out on the Central Wall.
First let me say that simply because of the cool and wild chimney climbing this route should get three stars. I always wanted to climb this route but never did because I always thought it was included in the falcon closure, but it's not. However, please respect the seasonal closure (April to September) because everything to the right of this climb is closed until you get over to where the Central Wall meets the Main Wall. This is a great climb to beat the crowds and heat of summer.
Because I didn't see any beta posted on this route I'll include a pitch by pitch breakdown, which will hopefully help any future climbing parties. So if you want to keep the adventure adventurous, then DON'T READ ON!!!
Pitch 1: Starts out with third class to the base of the 5.6 chimney which was the most physically demanding part of the climb for me. I climbed left side in since there is a thin crack (takes bomber nuts and small cams) that runs up the outer edge to looker's right. Halfway up the chimney there is a very small ledge that offers a rest stance. Be very careful topping out of the chimney as there is a lot of loose dirt, rock, and grime in the narrow gulley above where we built our belay. You can also build a belay inside the cave at the base of the second chimney.
Pitch 2: Scramble up the narrow gulley into the cave. I chimneyed with my right side in as there is a thin hand crack running up the first half of the chimney that takes good cams. It also makes for some secure foot placements. About halfway up there is a ledge to your right that offers a great rest stance but the climb doesn't go this way. Yup, you're only halfway there, keep chimneying up. About this point look to your left and you can see outside of the cave through slits in the blocks. I've heard of climbers resting on these blocks but I wouldn't want to test their structural integrity. At the top of the chimney you exit to looker's left and arrive at one very, very bushy ledge. Could this be where all the bushes escaped to from the East Wall's (Once a) Bushy Ledge? At this point we finished the climb differently than the Supertopo. We made our way over and through the bushes up to a very low angle gully. At it's end, we stemmed up and belayed on looker's right.
Pitch 3: Continue up the weakness in the face above and go into another gully higher up. Again, be careful because this gully (like the one at the end of pitch 1) is also filled with all kinds of dirt, rocks, and grime. We even found a tree branch just hanging out. Climb up the gully to where you meet a headwall. There's a spooky narrow cave that goes back into the cliff here. This next part felt 5.7 and was the technical crux for us. Use the right wall to start stemming out of the gully and when you're about to surmount the headwall you'll find a much welcomed handcrack to pull yourself up onto a sloping ledge. Now traverse to the left wall and engage in some steep blocky climbing, again using the crack to make things easier and before you know it you'll pop out into the upper half of the gully. Be careful: there is a good deal of good sized rocks just waiting to be kicked back down into the gully. Scramble up and into the trees, let out a cry of joy, and realize you made it. We belayed off some large tree roots to the right.
*What is "Route Beta"?
It's climber slang for information or tips on a route as in, "what's
the beta on that route?" As a service to fellow climbers we ask SuperTopo
guidebook users to post tips and updates to this website if they have relevant
information to share after a climb.