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Southern Comfort Wall
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Best Bitters 
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Zombie 

Best Bitters 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: E1 5a

   
Type:  Trad, 2 pitches, 200'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI British: E1 5a [details]
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Submitted By: Aaron Hobson on Dec 9, 2006
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BETA PHOTO: Scott Jones starting the final finger traverse.

Description 

The Rock and Ice topo shows this route done in 4 pitches. However, with smart rope management it can be done in two quite comfortably.

P1 5.7: Start up face holds to gain a ledge. Traverse right (5.7) over a slab to reach the ;left side of a pillar. Jam/layback this to its top, then continue up easy face climbing to a good belay stance near some bushes adorned with poot slings.

P2 5.9+: This pitch zig-zags a lot and gets progressively harder. Unless you are comfortable running out sections of 5.7 climbing, it may be best to break this into two pitches. From the belay, follow a ramp up to the right using the hand/fist crack. Near the end of the ramp, gain a steeper ramp which goes to the left. This ramp uses good face holds and thin finger cracks. Near the top of this ramp is a spot to belay off to the left. The final section of the climb traverses back to the right following a finger crack and small crimpers(5.9+). There are a few cracks to choose from while traversing right, the trick is to aim for the blocky boulder summit of this headwall.

Beware some loose rock, although for the most part this climb is solid. The final sequence can feel much more difficult if approached the wrong way.


Location 

Shares a start with Zombie on some easy face climbing directly beneath the rappel anchors. Descend by scrambling down over west to rappel chains. A single two-rope rappel, or rap to the left to reach the belay ledge at the top of Zombie.


Protection 

Standard rack with emphasis on finger-sized cams for the last pitch (wires will work too, but cams make it a bit easier). An old 1/4" bolt protects the first slab traverse, and another old 1/4" bolt is found at the top of the column.

The poot slings should be avoided as I do not think that shrub could withstand much force. No anchors at top.



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By Karl Kiser
Dec 16, 2006
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a

I would not do this climb in two pitches. It is frequently better to do many of the climbs on Southern Comfort Wall in a few short pitches to reduce rope drag and improve communication. SCW is a relatively small formation and there is little need to minimize the number of pitches.

The right to left traverse at the end of the climb is the crux. It was originally rated 5.9 and was done without cams (more exciting). More people should climb the pitch so that an accurate rating can be posted.

By Nathan Fry
From: El Paso, TX
Nov 14, 2011

Karl's comment about more people climbing Best Bitters was too much to resist. Here are my comments:

First, I think Bitters rates more than two stars. I had a blast during the entire climb. Using half ropes, we linked the first two pitches together with minimal rope drag. The layback with feet smears up the flake was super. Couple that with the two thin traverses and it makes for a stellar climb.

Second, the last pitch. I'll begin by saying that I'm not very good with grading and that I won't begin to say whether the last pitch is 5.8, 5.9, or 5.9+. Let it suffice to say that, with small cams (#2, #1 C3, etc.) and a little imagination, there is decent pro as long as you don't get tunnel vision. Of the two diagonal parallel crack systems, I stayed on the upper one until directly below the summit block, at which time I climbed directly up towards the green lichen. On this route, there was a lot of precise footwork on tiny jibs, smearing, and balancing, but overall I felt like the climb merely demanded attention and finesse. Half ropes helped out greatly with reducing the pendulum for my second.

All in all, great climb that demands precise technique and rates at least 3 stars!