So I finally got around to doing this thing... AWESOME line!!
Be warned that the 5.10c first pitch face variation (since the 10a off-width fell off), is dangerously loose in the section just after the bolt where you have to go up left'ish and into the crack system. All the holds there under the roof thing are loose and will very likely pull out if you cranked on them to attempt the roof move. I almost completely pulled one out, just pull testing it, as it looks sketchy.
It actually looks like the "5.10c" face holds have probably pulled off at some point, and there is just "loose blocky stuff" left over where they used to be. Cant be sure, but that is how it looked.
Even if the current holds were usable it would still be more like 11b face for that move, maybe 11a if your 6' or taller. Without those holds, I could not find any safe/reasonable way to free climb around them.
We got up it by doing a french free move off a cam in a small crack/pocket just above the loose holds... the pocket/small crack aid (french-free) method was still very hard and sketchy.. the small crack/pocket is such that if you don't put pro in it, and used it as a hold, its was .75 BD I think, and would be a gnarly off ring-lock move with no feet, and in my opinion be 5.12+ or harder to do that way, with a really ugly penji fall back into a corner if you blow it there.... as that is the only place you can put any pro to protect the traverse moves up into the crack. The bolt will keep you off the deck, but unfortunately will slam you into a sharp corner if you do the traverse with it as the only pro.
So ultimately p1 felt like 5.11a A0 to me.
Once your past that (and a slight bit of munge on p1), the rest of the climb deserves a million stars... utterly awesome climbing.. The second pitch has to be one of the most fun and pump fest cracks in TM.. good times! ;-)
Hey Mike, I'm pretty sure a 70m rope would NOT make it down to the ledge, that second pitch sure seems like more than 115'.
Last week we completed a new alternate start to Blues Riff: "John Lee Hooker" 5.10b A0. Started this a couple years ago but got thunderstormed off (right about when Hooker died), finally got back to finish it.
Start about 40' right of Phobos at a short vertical crack/lb (5.10a), move right on a ledge, A0 past two bolts (probably go free at not all that hard), then climb up to the roof and traverse right for about 100' of horizontal crack roof traverse. Mostly 5.8/9 with good rests in between, but it's a bit loose in sections, especially around the quartz dike area near the end. There you get big postitive holds in loose and hollow rock, with one hard-to-spot tan bolt way high on the roof (but a good undercling/stem to clip it), protecting an overhung jug fest 5.10b traverse with orange lichen (clean fall into air if you blow it). After that, 4th class to the first anchor on Blues Riff (which is an old pin tied off, with rocks jammed in and tied off as back up).
Not the cleanest route in Tuolumne, but fun. Extra 2-4" pro, optional pro to 6".
PS Thanks to whoever replaced the tat webbing on the top of the 2nd pitch of Blues Riff with quick links. We just added a chain and links off the upper (3rd) bolt. The hangers up there are stamped SS, pretty sure that was Steve Sutton in early ASCA work...
I Climbed Blues Riff on Saturday using the beta Greg Barnes posted on the Phobos beta forum. (paraphrase)"climb 1&2 on Phobos, traverse over to the top of the second pitch of Blues Riff, and rap onto the ledge at the top of the first pitch. "
Perfect Beta! Avoids first pitch weirdness, Great warm up on phobos, lets BR get in the shade, you can clean the "fixed" piece below the crux (if you want it), leave water and descent shoes at the top of the second.
A couple small things to add. The traverse over is very easy, I think I used my hands in one spot. You have to keep a swing going at the bottom of the rap to get to the ledge, so swing early and don't let your rope get away from you when your on the ledge. Check that no one is on BR or starting it, as jumping ahead by raping in isn't cool, and your ropes would clobber them. You can rap to the ground with two 60m from the top of the second, you should do the third for the fun of it though and walk off (easy). top roping could be a trick without intermediates to keep you in low, (the Crux) and on traverse (not sure).
You might be able to do the rap with a 70m which would be especially nice if you could do the first two of phobos in one with a 70m, does anyone know?
Great route, Like a steeper Outer limts with a thin start.
Photo: Chris Falkenstein
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