After years on the tic list, I got a rope gun and finally did this awesome traverse. 350 ft off the deck, hanging from a crack, watching the clouds build and practicing my fear management! Wow what a buzz! A big thanks to Ed and Trad for their start beta below. I took your info and posted a drawing in the photo section - hope this helps you find the start. A guy told me this was a cruiser route - great hands, great pro, and only 20 ft of no feet - as a 5.8 leader venturing into 5.9, I thought it was pretty heads up. Take lots of small gear, sew it up, and rest when the feet are good - wowza! See you in Tuolumne!
The start was not too hard to find, but I dont think we ever saw the "cave". I followed the crux pitch and found that I did not have the endurance to make it w/o hanging, but I had not climbed for two months and am recovering from toe surgery so I've got my excuses.
We did not find the 10 minute decent and headed off toward fairview dome before circling back to the parking.
This is a must do climb
DO NOT GO TOO HIGH. TAKE THE FIRST LEDGE AVAILABLE ON THE RIGHT. (It ain't bushy, to speak of; there are no trees on the correct ledge.) The ledge you want is *below* the ledge with a yellow cord around the bush at the edge.
Nice climb, and very unusual. Tri cams and nuts work very nicely, but we had occasional problems with cams because the tops and the bottom of the crack were quite irregular.
First, thanks Ed, Gary, and Steve for letting us go first. Since we were lucky to find the start of the climb, I can chip in some beta here. From ground up, you should be able to find an obvious straight, "long, slabby hand crack grove" (SuperTopo) on the northeast side of the dome. Follow this crack up until it almost ends, and there will be a big ledge on your right side. Since there are only two small bushes on the two ends of this long ledge, calling it a bushy ledge might be confusing. There is another 30' low angle crack going left and up and connects with another nice looking crack system that goes straight up. Don't be tempted to go left! The ledge is the start of the climb. The SuperTopo is almost right about the first pitch from ledge -- it starts with a 20' 5.5 face section going right and up until you reach a flake where you can protect with an alien and some nuts. After that, I remember a short easy down climb to the right, and then up a crack to reach the belay station as shown in the topo. I didn't pay attention to the features around, so I'm not sure about the "cave".
The topo says the two bolts after the first traverse pitch are hard to spot, so I almost stared my eyeballs out trying to find them. The truth is this is a long pitch (180'), so don't bother looking until you've gone far enough, and the bolts are very obvious as there are slings with rap rings tied to them.
When it's nice and warm on the ground, it can be very windy on the climb. I wished we had radios (that were left in the car) with us, although we survived with some rope signals.
Climbed this last week and we also went too high, initially. (This even after talking to 2 other parties who'd recently done the route, and had ALSO made the mistake of going too high on the approach pitches.) Upon looking back and forth between the Supertopo topo and the photograph that I took afterwards to figure out where we went wrong, I think the source of the confusion is this:
Well, first, the part of the topo that shows the 4th class crack and bushy ledge seems to be right on (except that, as Jim noted below, there's really only one small bush on the "bushy ledge"). After that is where it got confusing. The Supertopo topo indicates the On the Lamb crack to be straight horizontal, and to run out on the left somewhere above what it labels as a 'cave' (I never did spot anything that I'd call a cave, though). But in fact, the "on the lamb" crack actually angles downward to the left, starting at about the corner, and ends at the right side of a large flake. I believe this is the area that the topo indicates as a belay 90' out from the bushy ledge belay. If so, imagine the crack to angle down and run out just below the tree and the "A" symbol, rather than running above that area of the topo. (This is how I interpret it, anyway.)
Basically, just follow Ed's advice ("pick some landmarks and head for them"). From the base of the dome you can see where the crack angles down and ends near the flake, so if you just head for that area and then traverse along the crack you'll already be on the route. Admittedly, since we didn't go that way ourselves I don't know how hard and/or protectable that initial section would be, but if you at least keep that feature in sight you'll know where you need to go.
Hope that helps.
Otherwise, this is a spectacular route! We did the main part of the climb/traverse in just over 2 pitches with a 60 m rope, belaying at the bolts, and then running the rope out almost to the end to get to a relatively comfortable belay (it's 30 or 40 feet right of the 'poor stance' belay indicated on the topo). After that it was only a short distance (20 or 30 feet?) around to the end of the crack, and then a quick scramble up the ramp to the tree.
Missed the start of the first pitch going too high to the very well vegitated ledge with trees and shrubs on it... we searched around looking mostly up... then saw another team on the route below us.
We scrambled down 30 or 40 feet and spied the east end of the dike below us and west a bit. So our scrambling got us around the first pitch. The SuperTopo topo lacks enought additional information to show us where we were (in the "terra incognito" part just above the published topo), but Reid's probably wouldn't have helped. My word of advice is to look at the features from the ground before scrambling up... pick some landmarks and head for them!
After letting the team of two go first, we traversed down and right and started the route. I've got to say it is the most unique route I've ever climbed... a mostly horizontal, three pitch hand traverse, a few hundred feet of the deck. Quite a bit of fun! Protection was available as often as I wanted. I made use of my Lowe tricams, there were great nut placements as well as the zillion cam placements opportunities.
At the end of the first dike pitch I'd belay out of the dike, standing in a very nice "dish" rather then using the bolts and hanging. I think it should be possible to construct a bomber anchor there without too much problem.
Also, at the end of the second dike pitch, I belayed out of the dike, but hanging. I should have continued a few more feet, stood up on the dike, and constructed an anchor there in some flakes and the dike. That would have greatly added to my comfort... as it was I stashed Gary and Steve there while we switched leads.
The last pitch is easier then 5.8 and, if you go to the pine tree up the ramp, about 170' to 180' long.
Just did it two days ago the way Greg says. On the lamb is super fun, and Jailbreak was fun slab climbing and knob surfing. Just a few added comments:
The first anchor is pretty close to 'On The Lamb' - probably only 20 feet up or so. It's easy to find, and the anchor even says 'Jail' on one bolt, and 'Break' on the other. Coolio.
Not too bad or scary to get to the anchor in the hole (I followed though). It's not sewn up or trivial though :)
So from the belay in the hole, you'll see a row of two (maybe three or four depending how hard you look) obvious bolts way up. From the hole, follow the dike. It looks tempting to go up first then over to the row of bolts (as opposed to following the dike), but you'll miss the first hidden bolt (that is near the dike). The hidden bolt is about 1/2 way to the row of bolts. I didn't see it until I was essentially at it. While I was clipping this first bolt, a knob blew and I almost took a fall onto the anchor. I had a decent handhold though and held on. Whew...
After that, it's really well bolted. And I didn't see any bolt anchors at the top (for any of the three climbs that top out there). Maybe I'm just blind, but my partner didn't see any bolt anchors at the top either. Doesn't really seem to matter though, it's easy to set a gear anchor.
We did a cool new finish to On The Lamb on 7/5/03. Great knobs and a cool dike, a bit runout but not bad (by Tuolumne standards).
Jailbreak 5.9 (PG/R, **)
If climbing On The Lamb "forward" (aka left to right), after the crux you get to a short corner/dihedral. About 30' past the dihedral, a thin crack comes up from below (this is Sleeper; also common belay spot). About 50' past this crack, you get to some large hollow blocks, and the end of the harder-than-5.6 climbing. Right above the large blocks is a short left-facing dihedral. Climb up this to a bolt, then up to a 2-bolt belay (5.8), about 40' above On The Lamb. From this belay, follow the left-angling dike past two bolts, then up a knobby shallow dihedral to a bolt, then left along the dike (5.8 somewhat runout) to a two-bolt belay in a hole (70' pitch). The upper part of this pitch (knobby dihedral to the 3rd bolt to the 2-bolt belay) is also the upper part of pitch 3 of Sleeper; Sleeper continues straight up & slightly right from the belay bolts at 5.9R. From this belay, continue up the left-angling dike to a bolt (30' 5.8 runout to the bolt), then wind your way up the easiest way through the headwalls past 4 more bolts (5.9 well-bolted) to an easy slab, then large ledges. Many belay options with a variety of gear, it's about a 180' pitch if you go all the way to the uppermost ledges. The upper bolts on Jailbreak are about 30' right of the top bolts on Ewe Must Be Kidding, and 50' left of the top of Sleeper (the Reid/Falkenstein topo crunches the whole area way down). Note that Kamps added a bolt in the middle of the 70' runout on Ewe Must Be Kidding last summer.
Five of the 8 protection bolts on the 3 short pitches were originally 1/4", but I replaced them after a few weeks. Alan Bartlett & Steve Gerberding did the 2nd ascent.
classic way to approach On The Lamb is to climb Nerve Wrack Point; it spits you out near the right end..
The awesome traversing line of On the Lamb.
Photo: Greg Barnes
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