Great climb, but a little beta in this forum would have been helpful, so I'm posting what I experienced yesterday. The first pitch has a 20ft section of 5.7 awkward chimney climbing, but it's relatively easy. Stem left and right when possible to keep your body out of the crack, but you'll occassionaly need to move in to set gear between 3.5 inches and 4 inches. Above the chimney there is a ledge, but a better belay ledge exists another 20ft up. From here, the second pitch is fantastic and will take up plenty of gear between an inch and two inches. The last 20 ft traverses below a large roof, which you can see from the first belay. There's a good deck to set up your second anchor, which will take cams up to 4 inches. The third pitch moves up slightly and to the right, where a bolt protects an easy face before entering a 5.5 crack. The third belay is set up in a "tunnel." From here, the escape isn't intuitive at all. Three options exist. I heard you can move West out to a series of totally exposed blocks or go up through a short 14ft chimney feature to reach the summit. We opted for the 5.8 finish, which moves East out of the tunnel. You can see the bolt just as you enter the tunnel up and to your right. Clipping it is the fun part. The bolt is a bit janky. A red Metolius can be used to protect the move getting to the bolt, as well. Once you've clipped, make the move. There's a bomber knob just to the right of the bolt. From here, traverse right 10ft (place another piece so you're not depending the janky bolt) move up to the summit. Descend towards the North, which there's a tree on the NorthWest side, which you can rappel from with a 60M rope.
Fun route. great practice for chimney, lay back techniques. If you're trailing a beginner, this route will let you know whether they'll stick to pulling on plastic or destined for outdoor granite adventures.
Haven't done the 5.8 west face finish, but the tunnel through to chimney straight up is a very satisfying way to earn the summit. If you do that, however, rope drag can make belaying the second a pain. Tie off long and belay back at the lip. Then you get to watch your second grovel, curse your placements, maybe even get their helmet stuck. Good stuff!
If you love chimney climbing, then do this route; it has just about a little bit of everything: stemming, squeeze chimney, hand crack, liebacking, slab. The tunnel through on the fourth pitch is pretty easy, but is awesome as you get hit by the exposure exiting on the west side. If you want to stand on top of Sugarloaf, then this is probably the easiest way to the top, aside from walking up from the north.
P1 .7 ow/chimney, take at least a BD4 cam, stay out of ow towards end. P2 classic handcrack/lb with a .7 bulge 1/2 way that takes small Metolius 3 or 4 cam units. P3 .8 go up and right and stem/face climb past bolts for neat exposure. My favorite Sugarloaf climb, link it with Lurch, Morticia, Dominion or East Chimney for a nice moderate day.
Great route with a wide variety of climbing styles. Truckee Trad's beta was invaluable. You need to look for the bolt on the last pitch before really entering the tunnel. Once you are in there, you cannot see it unless you come most of the way back out.
Photo: Chris McNamara
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