I didnt have any trouble with poor quality rock on this climb. It seemed a little harder than a 5.7 at the leap but was very fun. #4 cam comes in handy more than once. If anyone finds a number four at the bottom of the spire, its mine. My friend led the second pitch and dropped it...
I thought P1, especially the upper half, was just as good if not better than any 5.7 pitch at Lover's Leap, but it felt more like 5.8; P2 seemed much easier, more like 5.6. Two BD #4 cams are useful on each pitch (there is a fixed #4 cam in the middle of P1). Take along at least a half dozen slings, you'll want them for a short traverse and for gear placed deep in the wide crack.
I was not struck with poor quality of the granite--a little flaking here and there, but solid placements. A solid 5.7 climb. My advice is to save your larger cams, especially #2 camalots, for the second half of the first pitch. I ended up leapfrogging the pair I had for about 30 ft and have never done that before. Once you reach the top of the 2nd pitch, a big flat ledge, the rappel chains are easy to find off in the right back side of the ledge. One 60m makes it to the ground easy.
I have to agree with Steele. If you've hiked up this far, might as well walk another 30' and climb "Fear of Flying." I've climbed "Gingerbread" twice and won't be back. The first half of the 1st picth is cursed with horribly crappy rock (and the climbing isn't all that great until the 2nd half). I'd feel just as confident if I was placing pro in a bowl of soup. Look at the base of the climb, there's a reason all the rock from this climb is down there. Now, like I said, if you want to climb a real classic, try "Fear of Flying." Unlike Steele, the rack I use is doubles from a #1 Metolius up to a #6 and one #7 or from a .3 Camalot up to a #1 and one #2. From my experience a #3 is too big. A set of nuts can be helpful, too.
I've seen two different ways to go when you come up under the big roof (the start of the "Desparado Variation"). Either stay in the corner or (my preference) move out left onto some knob climbing (no pro, airy, and exciting). When you're about to traverse in on "Gingerbread" head up and back right. Enjoy!
Fun. Use long runners after the traverse to the 2nd pitch and rope drag isn't bad.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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