Peter Croft just led the crux pitch and said that he felt it was more like 5.11d--a number harder than OZ in tuolumne.
i kinda felt the same way when i climbed it. but because the topo i had listed the pitch as 5.10, i felt weird about bumping up the rating past 5.11b. it now sounds like the route is at least 5.11c. and maybe 5.11d?
it's hard to say until more people climb it. so if you have climbed this route please pitch in your opinion.
Chris, regarding your question about the rating of the crux pitch, I assume you are talking about the two bolt face climbing section immediately before the sun spot. Since 2004 my guess is the pitch has cleaned up significantly, making it seem 11b, but I have to defer to you and Croft. How is anyone going to contradict either of you? I thought it was the only section that felt 5.11, again, likely owing to much cleaner rock after all the traffic in the past few years.
There is now a nice two bolt anchor with a stance 15' above where pitch 3 is marked on the supertopo and right below the pitch 4 5.11a stemming section on the topo. That's a better spot to belay than at the top of the ramp. Pitch 4 now ends in a nice two bolt anchor.
Pitch 3 and 4 are unbelievably good/fun and worth the trip alone.
I thought the ramp on pitch 3 protected well; maybe the crack has been cleaned of dirt, etc.
Pitch 6. I think the second/last horn marked on the topo fell off!
Just did this route yesterday and thought that it was incredible! The climbing is way more fun than on the Positive Vibes and it's not much harder. There are a few sections where the rock is slightly more loose than on the PV, but it's never anything big - just tiny flakes and a little bit of lichen on the sunspot.
I don't know what the previous poster was thinking - there is no gear whatsoever in the "spooky 10b seam" on the Ramp (pitch 3). I placed a nut at the beginning of the seam and had a 15-20 foot of very insecure R climbing to the bolt with some ropedrag. That's probably the most dangerous part of the route as the gear is super good everywhere else. Don't save your red camalot for the belay - it won't fit anyway, just go up another 15 feet to a two bolt anchor. There's two killer knee-bars on this (3rd) pitch. The one in the "10c wild undercling" is hands-free and allows you to depump and place gear! Amazing! Make sure to give the camera to your partner if you are leading this pitch.
The 11b face crux is right on the mark in my opinion, not any harder and not scary at all. It must have cleaned up a little. Just don't pull too hard on the flake from which you clip the first bolt (-: The two 11a pitches are not very hard. First one has great stems in the beginning to figure out the gear. You only need to place 1-2 RPs before you get to bomber gear and that's off a two bolt anchor. It looks intimidating from below as you can't see the good placements, but climbs well. 6th pitch involves sustained laybacking, but is never hard. The climbing on pitches 3-6 is amazing, especially if you like corners!
Go do it! I think it's the best route in the high sierra! Check out the pictures.
The "spooky 10b seam/ramp" at the top of pitch 3 is actually well-protected with a small HB brass nut, mid-way between the stance ledge at the bottom of the seam and the bolt. If you get that nut it is not runout at all. The scariest part is actually on the 10c undercling below where you have to gun it to the left for 10-15 feet.
Agreed, the route is even better than Pos. Vib!!
Got on it this past weekend. About 30-50 feet up on Pitch 4, my partner pulled off a really large flake/block, smashed his finger up and core-shot his rope. This flake was clearly used by many who had previously climbed the route. Pretty intense moment. Luckily no one was below us as the flake generally smashed through the rap-route of Positive Vibes etc.
I finished the pitch so that we could clean it - the incident made me highly (maybe hyper) aware of, and not psyched on, a few less than bomber flakes / blocks within the crack system that you definitely rely upon. I expect that this pitch has similar surprises left for future climbers. On a positive note, there is now a really nice foothold where that flake came off. Definitely a long and involved pitch that you'll want to conserve some gear on.
The 3rd pitch "spooky" section protects well with that nut mentioned by rdh. The traverse is no biggie if you are ok with trusting smears.
We did the alternate 5.10 start pitch (just right of the polish route) which was a good warm-up pitch.
Rufus Lusk and I climbed the first 6 pitches of the route on Aug 2010
Overall Supertopo describes the route very well and in great detail - thank you Chris!
The route is incredibly good: sustained, variable, beautiful, well protected.
Few small comments.
Approach: river crossing is very easy - two huge logs cross the river next to each other. A nice trail goes up the sandy switchbacks.
Gear: One #3 BD is more than enough. Offset red/yellow and yellow/green aliens are crucial to protect the end of pitch 3. It's G with them and R without.
Pitch 2. It's better to finish it and belay on a small ledge 8 feet below a small roof just before Sun Spot and Positive Vibrations split up (Supertopo recommends belaying 20 feet higher but it's less comfy and flakes feel too loose for a solid belay). Just be nice to people climbing Pos Vibs.
Pitch 3. LOTS of slings and/or back clean gear as you go up the crack after the traverse.
Rappel: there are two fixed nuts with biners in the cave at the top of pitch 6. Rappel off them to the Solar Flare bolted station 20 meters below on the climbers left side. Then, it's four two rope rappels to the ground. At the last rappel (where broken scrambling terrain starts, keep climbers left). Be aware of rope getting stuck, particularly in the crack just below p6 cave and at the last rap.
Two notes on this wonderful route:
P3: I would place a directional at the very start of the handcrack after the 10c underling traverse to protect the rope from being dragged into the crack at the lip of the undercling. I think just using long slings on the undercling traverse does not alleviate the problem - I used long slings, rope still got caught in the crack and doing the transition from the 10b "hard to protect" crack to the face with a shi####d of rope drag was not fun.
P5: the supertopo indicates a horn at the end of P5 where you are supposed to go left and then continue up a 5.9 crack. There is a horn towards the end of P5 where two bolt anchor is but don't go left here, continue up. The correct spot to go left is a little ways up. Or go left, belay here at the bolts and then transition back to the left corner.
Hope this helps a bit.
The route as seen from the bivy spot.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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