This is the real deal. Not just a few pitches through the Coconino to a Temple or Butte's summit, but an intimate encounter with the spectrum of strata available to you in the Canyon. At times, sphincter strengthening.
This route climbs from the top of the Temple Butte formation (of the NW ridge), out.
First ascent, in two+ days, by John Harlin III, Anne Arrans, Roger Payne, and Nikolay Petkov (5.10). See 2003 AAJ, pp. 201-02.
Second ascent, in 24 hrs. car to car with an enjoyable variation (Agave Variation 5.11-) through the Coc and Kaibab, by A. Frost and C. Kirk.
This route offers a preview of what new routing in the Ditch could become.
Comanche Ridge, from Dox Hill.
Photo by C. Kirk
You should be able to figure this out, if you're going to attempt the route.
Begins at the base of the Redwall on the SW ridge, climbs through the Supai, traverses left at the base of the Coc and joins the "Agave Variation" to the NW (Comanche) ridge....[more]Browse More Classics in AZ
"This route offers a preview of what new routing in the Ditch will become. "
I agree that over time, there will be more stellar lines done in this fashion. However, you must remember that this is actually the backbone of many of the serious canyoneers' routes. Finding ways up and out via all strata. The number of sphincer tightening exits made by the likes of the old guard sans rope are pretty impressive. (Butchart, Walters, Packard, Ohlman, Kirschvink, Bain, Sharber, LB and more I'm forgetting.....)
Just because it doesn't have a 5.n rating on it, doesn't mean it's not in the spirit of a climb. I know I've done an awful lot of stuff that I was told was "a little bit interesting, nothing very technical, someone with your experience probably won't even notice it" only to find some totally exposed, absolute no fall zone, 5.6/5.7 with a full pack on and no rope or pro. Oh, and testy rock.
George Bain's one day 3rd class ascent of the East Face of Vishnu from river to Summit was done in the late 70s or so. Very few parties would ever consider it with/out a rope. not sure it's even had a second ascent...
So, while the full comanche point route looks like a full on real deal challenge and there is potential for one or two other similar routes (yes, tongue in cheek) I think this style of route is just an extension of Harvey's original draw to the BD.
What is the redwall part of this climb like ? There lies one of the real challenges of true river to rim lines.
My intent in the description was never to diminish or disparage the "exits" of the "old guard." Indeed, I've thrilled to some of Bain's and Butchart's "3rd class" routes in the midst of long runs and found them far more thrilling than a day of hard cragging. Instead, my intent was to present a different option for "technical" climbers of today to the somewhat antiquated peak-bagging that 'regularly' occurs in the Canyon.
N. AZ has always hosted quite a few extremely talented climbers with a tolerance for removable handholds and gear-less pitches. As you well know, it doesn't matter if you're considering the standards of the generations of the 40's and 50's, the 70's and 80's, or of today; some degree of boldness is necessary in this geography once you say to yourself: "Up." For that matter, there are also the artifacts on top of "technical" towers and buttes in the Canyon that clearly precede even the "old guard."
I would posit, however, that there may be potential for more than just one or two additional 3000+' routes in the E sector of the Canyon. The LCR is another beast altogether.
I agree that it would be a great boon to have Butchart's penchant for problem-solving when approaching this terrain.
The redwall segment of Comanche Ridge is, as you might expect, exciting. Segments of unprotectable, beautiful 5.9 face climbing over black patina, a chimney which becomes a euphoric tunnel-through, a 35 foot long section of ridge stacked 3-5 feet deep with loose plates and lots of pretty steep red junk in between.
I appreciate the context your comments bring, Paul.
My goal in posting this description was to help foster the imagination it will take to move climbing in the Canyon from just its summits to also include its walls.
Definition of "regularly" in the GC? A couple of times a year... max. I agree with your intimation that most summits in the Canyon infrequently bear human visits, which seems appropriate: look at how much rock there is to choose from in this place....
Why a second ascent of Comanche? Because it's a big alpine style ridge route and offers some of the most continuous climbing I've heard of in the Canyon.
Other options?? Of course. That being said, I thought it would be both healthy and appropriately humble to acquaint myself with the reality of a Temple Butte to rim route before probing something similar as a FA. Both my imagination and my courage needed some prompting, I suppose.
Boundary Ridge looks like a good time, and the options certainly don't end there, as you know.
And I didn't say the towers and buttes are "antiquates" [sic], although they certainly are quite old.
Lastly, this is no wave, I'm happy to say... just a ripple. Nor am I trying to make waves; just share one way I've found to look at the surface, to further evolve the ways we interact with the Canyon.