|Deer Ridge Buttress
Disclaimers:The following route description for the first pitch is for how *WE* climbed the route, as the 3 topos we had were not in full agreement. Furthermore, we only did the first two pitches and looked at the third. We did not see the fourth pitch (easy exit), as it was significantly to the right of our line. Hopefully someone will finish this description by putting the 3rd and 4th pitch in.
Instead of finishing on the 3rd and fourth pitch we ascended a "super-direct" route through the upper dihedrals that we are calling Crystal Balls. I will post the info on that route separately, as it is 250 feet of independent climbing and is not of similar character.
Description: Head into Dear Ridge Buttress and settle in at the right side, just to the right of a narrow and steep ramp-like dihedral, where the ground rises to form an earth-ramp that rises steeply to the right. The route, Crystal Ship, starts about 25' up the earth ramp. To confirm where you are, find a dark vertical band of charcoal colored lichen stretching up from the ground and some light peach colored rock just right of that. This is the start of the Route Sunlight and Shadow, a mere 50' left of Crystal Ship.
P1: The base of the climb is marked most precisely by a short but thick, left-leaning dihedral, which goes to vertical and then peters out just about 20' above ground. Just right of this step on to he rock and head up and left to a sharp, thin flake which you under-cling and protect, heading to the right. Use long slings on most points of pro to avoid drag. This pitch is somewhat dirty and has some suspect rock. Do not trust cams placed shallowly in the flake, as I suspect it would snap if tested by a fall. These moves are not harder than 5.9+. Continue up and left under one flake and then up to another, repeating this process until eventually either pulling through the roof about 60 feet up, or by passing it on the left. In any case the climbing is still 5.9+ or 5.10- and S. After the roof, you will be near a lower angle face with a few points of good protection of your choosing. Continuing upward will take you to the ramp-like dihedral that had been at your left at the start. Climb this up and right to some huge boulders that you will set a belay in. This pitch was 130' long, but may require more rope if you place a lot of gear or use shorter slings than we did, due to its wandering nature. This pitch has interesting moves, some poor rock, and is so-so at best. Better than doing this pitch, perhaps, might be approaching via a different line, like Sunlight and Shadow?
P2: First thing first... WARNING: My partner backed off and handed me the rope, citing "Friday the 13th and Black Cat feelings about the lead." This is essentially correct, but it has some beautiful moves.From the belay, look up and left. Note the small deciduous bush growing out of a horizontal about 50' away. Look further up another 35' from there and see the white section of rock hanging below the lowest of the right facing, overhanging dihedrals. These will come into play as you climb. You come out of the belay and do some easy moves up and left to a short vertical crack section that takes good pro. Place a piece and move up and left on a rising 5.7 traverse to the left. This will deposit you on a low angle slab -or maybe high-angle ledge, depending on how you look at things. Just up and right of the point where you reach the slab is at the small bush. Getting to the bush is runout a bit, but not of any consequential difficulty. If this did not feel good, go back now. Down and left of the bush you can set some so-so stoppers or passive tricams in the horizontal in a flaky spot. These are slid in from the side and set hard so that they don't fall out. I would not fall hard on these, as the gritty-ness and texture of the rock made them seem suspect. Up and right of the bush, back behind it (hard to see from below) there is a deep but small section of fist-crack. Set the 3.5 camalot you brought deep in this and add a few long runners/slings. This is your crux pro and if you fell it would be between you and a trip to the E.R. Set all of this gear very carefully.Just left of the bush you are going to tackle the near-vertical face. There are two ways of doing this. Just left of the bush there is a crimpy but secure start that goes to a questionable move or two to reach the next rest. Further left (a few more feet) there is another way that rises up and left and then back right. These are bigger holds, but some are slopers, and the feet up top are small. I chose this, the left-hand way. At 5'10" I was just tall enough to get the first crux comfortably, and I was crying for 3 more inches of reach for the second crux. Wear good sensitive shoes for this.... You will now execute the crux- move up on the face through 5.10 moves (two 5.10b cruxes) with pro 15' and 25' feet below you, respectively. The slab is 10 feet lower. A fall would most certainly mean injury, and perhaps serious injury. Wear a helmet. At the end of said slab you will reach an under-cling at the left end of the aforementioned white spot that you saw below the overhanging dihedral from the belay. This rock is both light and soft. I tore some off with my fingers. There is a small TCU placement here (I used a gray or blue micro-Camalot). It might hold, it might not; it is a shallow placement in brittle rock. Move up and left to pass this first overhanging dihedral on its lower left and up into a second right-facing, overhanging dihedral. Put in some more questionable pro and move out and right to a bad belay...or the best thing that you can find. Or continue to the third pitch. From there, you will work through the 3rd and 4th pitches. This would have been a 40-meter pitch if I had stopped at the proposed belay area.
P3: (Reminder: I only looked at this pitch and did not climb it.) Move up and right on near vertical face though good but poorly protected moves to reach a finger crack up and to your right, about 30' overhead. There are plenty of little plants in it, but looks like plenty of good rock and protection as well. Climb up the widening crack to a small "roof" where the crack is hand-sized and continue on up the splitter on jams with descent protection until you reach a belay at the base of some left leaning dihedrals. This pitch looked to be over 30 meters and is reputed to be 5.10a.
P4: (I have not climbed it) According to R. Rossiter in his Crag Areas book, "Follow a system of left-facing dihedrals to the top." (5.8).
For the description of what we did from the top of P2, please see the on-line route "Crystal Balls".
I CAN NOT BELIEVE that this route was not rated 'S' in the guidebooks. It is arguably VS in spots. In my opinion, the proposed second belay was pretty sketchy.
Well, you should take a double set of nuts and a double set of TCUs. Tricams are also handy. One set of cams to 3" is also a good idea. Include a 3.5 camalot for crux pro or you may be horrifically runout instead of just runout. I suggest all of this pro not because there is so much available on the route, but rather, because when you can get it, you want to make sure you do, and you want to make sure it is bomber. This is a hard and runout route with some sections of scaly rock.