Characterized by a difficult approach and longish descent with three great pitches of roped climbing this climb is an off the beaten track, classic Yosemite adventure climb. Approach by walking up and right from the toe of Lower Brother, taking a left at the first major ramp system. From here 250 feet of scrambling (some 4th or maybe easy 5th) will take you to the base of the route.
P1: Two options, a 5.7 exciting chimney or a 5.9 flake, we took the chimney and weren't disappointed. Belay at the highest ledge at the base of a perfect thin hands splitter.
P2: Climb the excellent splitter. Pass an old bolt casing (optional belay) and continue up the left facing corner. Lots of hands to off hands with an awkward bulge/horn to pass on this part of the pitch. Belay at a nice ledge with trees after 175 feet.
P3: Again a couple options; we continued up the most logical line, the groove to OW corner. The intimidating OW above isn't too bad with lieback techniques and a 5" piece. Continue with the chimney above and belay on another comfortable ledge.
To descend, first climb up another 200-300 feet (some 4th or easy 5th class) to the base of the upper headwall, then descend climber's left down Michael's Ledge. There isn't much of a trail and almost no cairns, so use your best judgement as for when to get off the ledges. Its best not to leave anything at the base as the descent doesn't take you anywhere near the start of the climb.
nuts, double cams .6-3", single 4", slings. Optional extra 1.5-3" and/or a 5" piece.
|Comments on Absolutely Free, Center
|By Doug Hemken|
Jun 9, 2009
P1 and P3 (P4 in Reid) are good, P2 (P2 & P3 in Reid) is great! The 4th class approach and top-out are nice: they keep the riff-raff away.
I would compare this to the Northeast Face of Lower Cathedral Spire, another "former classic" that I really enjoyed.
Take two pieces in the 4-5 inch range.
From: Livermore, CA
Jun 16, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a
I've done this twice within the last couple of months since I really enjoyed the climbing. Take plenty of # .75-1 pieces for the splitter crack.
|By Rob Dillon|
Jun 17, 2009
A topout variation to the right avoids the wide via finger-sized laybacking through a series of corners, 5.9.
Rapping with 2 60's is pretty straightforward. Bring a big piece of webbing/cordelette in case the slung boulder on top has been unslung.
From: Mountain View, CA
Sep 18, 2009
Great route that deserves more traffic. I found the last part of the 4th class to be.....5th.
Apr 2, 2010
This climb is up there with the best of them. Its not too difficult to find and you may not know you are at the bottom of a classic when you do get to the start.
Leave your bags in your car so you don't have to walk back to the start of the climb after descending Michael's Ledge.
I've always taken the variation (.8) out left then up for the last pitch.
|By Tom Fralich|
From: Fort Collins, CO
Oct 14, 2011
Both the approach and descent were more straightforward than expected. We roped up for the approach and reached the start in 1.5 pitches. I found the splitter crack pretty hard...wish I had smaller hands. Definitely take a #5 for P3.
|By Michael Ybarra|
From: on the road
Dec 30, 2011
The approach isn't bad, the climbing is very fun, but the descent totally blows (took us longer than the climb), costing the overall experience at least a star. The ideal rack: doubles, green through blue, a #4 and a #5.
Apr 16, 2013
What an stellar route! Definitely some low 5th on the approach and descent. Was gripped a couple times in my crappy approach shoes.
The Reid guide says pro to 3" on this one and I would be inclined to agree. We took one #4 but never used it. Makes me wonder if the first ascent team avoided the offwidth on the last pitch also? The finger crack left of the offwidth is way fun and aesthetic.
All the stuff you read about the splitter pitch being awesome is totally true!
Didn't have much trouble with Michaels Ledge either. When in doubt stay close to the wall.