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This is a fun way to start the Matthes Crest traverse. It avoids the regular Matthes Crest start, which can be quite crowded, but it takes much longer to climb, so can only be used to pass the slowest parties.
The climb is mostly knobby face moves on big crystals. The rock quality is good but not great--as of 2010 (3 years after the FA) the route needs some more traffic to break off the most fragile crystals. Lots of edging on knobs for feet, so wear your stiffest shoes.
The topo in the Supertopo guidebook is accurate and easy to follow. (We forgot to bring ours and had a bit of an adventure; the rock quality tends to be poor off route.)
The climb is closer to Narsil than it appears on the topo. The slings at the top of Narsil are just barely visible from the right edge of the Anduril belay ledge (as of 2010 they are red, making them easier to spot).
The Supertopo rates the 1st pitch crux as 10b. It is a very tightly bolted roof, with a bolt immediately below and above; anyone taller than 5'2" or so can clip the bolt above before getting over the roof. Slightly soft for Yosemite 10b--definitely not an old-school sandbag.
The Supertopo calls a short (vegetated) section on the 2nd pitch "flaring hands," and rates it 10a. It's noticeably easier than an old-school sandbagged Yosemite 5.9 (e.g., Phobos/Deimos, Reeds Direct). Make sure to stay on the right-side arete and crack on this pitch; the rock deteriorates badly on the left side near the top, and the climbing is harder too. The anchors are on the right side and are not visible until more than halfway up the pitch.
The route is 200 or so feet below and right from the notch of the standard Matthes start. The scrambling is exposed, and you're on a loose surface until you start traversing right to the obvious pair of Narsil/Anduril ledges.
The first 3 anchors are bolted, and the 4th is a giant sloping ledge on top of the Crest that takes #1 Camalots (with other good options if you're out of #1s). The hard moves are very well protected, either by bolts or solid pro. Sling gear liberally to avoid rope drag as the route works its way right. If you are going to solo the entire Crest, you can probably get by with a set of medium nuts (BD #6-#10) and single set of cams (BD #.75-#3). We also found a useful placement for a BD#.3 and a #5 (both pitch 4). The #5 was also useful for a belay anchor on the far right of the start ledge.
From: Marquette, MI
Sep 4, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a PG13
Great route! A few things to note:
1) First pitch is not run out. My climbing partner and I concluded that you would have to climb out of your way to make the first pitch (R)
2) The crux is more like Yosemite 5.9+
3) The 2nd pitch is more run out at PG 13 / R-
4) If your solid at Yosemite 5.9 the 5.10a hands (on pitch 3) will be a breeze
5) The quality is so/so. Foot chips and knobs were breaking off, so be aware.
Recommended way to start the whole ridge. The climbing will get you stoked and ready for the 5.8 down climbing past the North Summit.
Sep 6, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI E1 5a PG13
Agree with dbrdhd! An excellent route that needs to see more traffic. The runouts are very minimal and climbing superb! More like 5.9+ than 10b. Loved every minute of this route! Kudos to Greg Barnes and friends!