We climbed this and the Bay Tree Flake second pitch as well. As mentioned, there are no longer bolts, but building a trad anchor after the first pitch is not a problem.
The first pitch is really likely easier than 5.6, the second pitch seems like a legit 5.6 lead and I found it more interesting and longer than the first pitch although the thin lieback from pitch 1 is a bit of fun. I don't see any reason why the first and second pitches could not be linked. The face to the right of the second pitch would be a good face climb on TR. Both pitches protect well. Make sure and climb the blocks for the second pitch, not the dihedral if you're trying to climb Bay Tree Flake. There's a very old chincy looking bolt on top of the second pitch and building a trad anchor there is also not a problem.
You descend off to the back left where you'll find a little trail/gully. You then have two options - you either jog left to the top of Penthouse Cracks where you'll find a set of rappel bolts, or you head straight on down the gully where you'll have to down climb a low 5th class section. I down climbed this section to check it out while my partners rappelled off - it is dicey - I had to put my climbing shoes back on - the landing's not "nice" if you slip - and next time I would rap off.
Institute of Better Bouldering-DirtbagDad Division
Nov 12, 2008 - 01:14am
I just lead this for the second time and had a ball once again. It has a special place in my heart since it was the first climb I ever followed and it really got me hooked on climbing. I had a 60m rope and ran both Oak Tree and Bay Tree flake into one pitch.
For some reason I completely forgot about the descent being a bit hairy. The only really funky part of it is about 15 feet or so right at the bottom of the gully. I gave my parter a belay while she down-climbed it. It's one of those that looks worse than it ends up being, but you should be comfortable down climbing low fifth. I've done way scarier down climbs at Joshua Tree!
Combining this climb or Grant's Crack with Bay Tree Crack above is a fun little two-pitch climb. On the descent you can avoid climbing or rappelling down the short but gnarly class 5 gully to the west by moving left to the top of Penthouse Cracks, which has bolts for a rappel and can also be used for some fun top-roping.
Fun climb, pretty easy lie back the whole way up. Even as a new leader, I didn't think the protection was difficult at all, though it does swallow bigger pieces.
You can easily set a toprope for the routes around the corner (like Grant's Crack). The bolts are indeed gone (as of June 21st 2008), but an easy anchor can be built. Once you hit the obvious big ledge, continue up ~20 feet on easy 5th class to the little tree. The tree had no less than 7 or 8 slings around it (from 1" webbing to 4 mil cord!), with a pair of rap rings around the whole mess. You can easily backup the tree on the crack behind it, but we rapped off the tree, as had many before us.
The tree above Grants Crack gets a lot of traffic (I've seen three top ropes on this single tree) possibly due to the removal of bolts above Grants. I would strongly suggest leading a second pitch to avoid using the tree.
Bay Tree Flake (5.6) above Oak Tree Flake takes small gear and ends with an exceptional view of Half Dome. Belay next to large blocks, climb past a tree, a few face moves to gain the finger crack and finish at the end of the crack. You may find an OLD fixed anchor at the top. Back it up!
Decent: Walk off the back and down a grass hill, move down into a slot/chimney and walk over to a dirt and grass ledge. We added another sling to a tree above the ledge and rapped because the down climb from here is slick and steep.
Complete this combo route and check it off in the Free Climbs book (page 196).
i'm not advocating bolts on this climb, i just posted because in the Supertopo Guide Book, bolts are on the topo, and i want people to know that the book is incorrect and where the rap station is for after they are done.
personally, i dont think bolts are necessary for this climb, the rap station is more than sufficient.
Um - guys - for the last 100 years this has been a boulder problem. Please don't place/replace bolts or rap off that poor oak tree. There's an obvious and easy downclimb to climbers' left. It's "frequently soloed" because it's a class 4 scramble not a "5.6"rock climb,. This is one instance where I think the resource is being exploited to generate guidebook content- looks like a job for the ABCA-vroom vroom.
Chris, I climbed in Yosemite the weekend of July 19th at Swan Slab and found the Bolts at the top of Oak Tree Flake gone. There were two holes with metal sleeves still inside them and no bolts or hangers. We were able to set an anchor but it slowed us down a little. Any idea what happened to the bolts? I enjoyed climbing and will be back for another larger route. I did After Six and a few others over the weekend. I saw Royal Arches and have a desire to come back and attempt that route next.
Swan Slab offers the highest concentration of short, moderate routes in Yosemite.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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