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Amptrax is great way for any climber operating in the easier grades to get up high off the deck and a fun romp up the wall for even the hardest of hard-men (the speed record is just over an hour - I'm sure it could be beaten).
Most people just do the first 5 pitches and rap since these pitches are all bolted and climb the best quality rock, but it's worth taking a set of wires and climbing to the top of Frontales, even if just to do the long and exposed walk off.
DISCLAIMER: We started at 11pm and drank a bottle of wine along the way. The description is the best I can give after a night of climbing in the dark.
P1 - 4th - 110 ft - Scramble up and left on a not so obvious ramp until you get to a two bolt belay below a big white streak that goes all the way up the wall.
P2 - 5.9 - 100 ft - Rope up and head straight up through some small dihedrals, making some strenuous and not so obvious moves. The top of the pitch circles a blank section of the wall and then moves back right to a two bolt belay stance. Use long slings and skip this belay, as it's only 50 feet to the next station.
P3 - 5.9 - 50 ft - If you decided not to link the pitches, you'll have 50 feet of excellent climbing on bomber jugs before you reach a fairly large ledge on the left with a bolted belay.
P4 - 5.10a - 50 ft - Continue up the steepening white limestone on good holds that are not always obvious. You'll come to a small stance with bolts, but again you should link this with P5.
P5 - 5.10a - 80 ft - I thought this was the hardest pitch, and also the best. Continue up and a bit left and then finally through a small bulge using positive edges on excellent rock.
Rap the route from here if you're happy with the sport climb. If you want to continue on, you'll need a set of wires and either a 70m rope or the will to top out.
P6 - 5.9 - 80 ft - An excellent and exposed traverse past a bunch of fixed gear (I don't think we placed any stoppers on this pitch). Find a bolted stance and scope out the next pitch.
P7 - 5.7 - 70 ft - There is no fixed gear on this pitch. Head up and right toward a large orange alcove and traverse under/through it. There is some loose rock in here so be careful. Find a bolted stance just on the other side of the alcove.
From here you can do four 35m rappels to the ground, or continue to the top of the wall.
P8 - 5.7 - 130 ft - Wander up and left toward a tree and then straight up through some steep but well featured limestone. Set a natural belay on one of the ledges and enjoy the view.
Scramble up and right from here to a notch in the skyline. The rock is of poor quality up here so be careful not to knock anything onto your partner or unsuspecting climbers below. From the top, there are two ways down and neither are straight forward, but they are both easy enough.
If you wish to take the fastest way down, head over the ridge and then down into the next valley. Find a path that leads across to the other side of the valley and stay above the stream/wash until you get to a well trodden path that will lead back to the railway and eventually El Chorro village.
The more scenic and exciting option is to head right along the ridge and traverse all the way to the Arabasque Steps. This is said to be an excellent walk off, but since we started this route at 11pm we decided not to do the exposed Steps walk off.
By Nick Russell
From: Bristol, UK
Mar 6, 2013
The route is now bolted all the way to the top of the wall, though it may take a slightly different line than the original route. You can rap on a 70m rope from the top of P8, but if you've made it all the way up there it would be a shame not to do the walk off!