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The Charlatan
Routes Sorted
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Bad Fortune T 
Charlatan Summit Spire (a.k.a. Our Lady of the Needles) T 
Fancy Free T 
Gemstone T 
Northwest Route T 
Spooky T 
Superstition T 
Valley Guy, The T 
Unsorted Routes:

Fancy Free 

YDS: 5.10 French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10b French: 6a+ Ewbanks: 19 UIAA: VII- ZA: 19 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Laeger, Smith, Jaffe (1976)
Page Views: 6,368
Submitted By: bbrock on Feb 22, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (64)
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Crux layback/finger crack on the second pitch

Description 

This is a super high quality 3 pitch route around the corner to the right of Spooky. We rapped into this route from the gully between the Charlatan and the Sorcerer. Sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

Pitch 1- Climb slippery slab to a slightly right leaning crack, then straight up to a bolted belay on a small ledge. 5.9
Pitch 2- Crux. Beautiful layback/finger crack. Perfect pro. Move left into the crack via a couple of face moves and launch off on a perfect layback/finger crack. This pitch is short but pumpy. 5.10
Pitch 3- You can continue to the top of the Charlatan or bail off left onto the second Spooky anchors. 5.9


Protection 

Standerd rack



Photos of Fancy Free Slideshow Add Photo
Unknown climbers on Fancy Free, taken at noon on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007.  Is this you?  If so, let me know, I have more pics of you.
Unknown climbers on Fancy Free, taken at noon on T...
Pointing to the crux on Fancy Free from the Witch
Pointing to the crux on Fancy Free from the Witch
Mike Schneiter on the first pitch of Fancy Free
Mike Schneiter on the first pitch of Fancy Free
climbers at the first belay on Fancy Free. <br /> <br />The lady in Orange (barely visible) cruised the route, while having photos taken.
BETA PHOTO: climbers at the first belay on Fancy Free.

The la...
Comments on Fancy Free Add Comment
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By caughtinside
From: Oakland CA
Aug 21, 2008

This description seems off. I led p1 up to some flakes, and set up a belay there, just below the .10 crux. There was no bolted belay. Well, there was, but it was 20' away on a different route.

p2 is the fantastic fingers/hands crux, a classic pitch. .10b I'd say.

p3 is ok, just mellow .7. 2 and 3 link easily, which is what we did.

p4 is a fun romp to the summit on fingers to hands.

By Fat Dad
From: Los Angeles, CA
Feb 5, 2009
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

Finishing on Spooky is the way to go IMO. And of course do the summit pinnacle, just to finish it off right.

Also, not to quibble on ratings, but this felt more like .10c to me. Earlier that summer I'd climbed some Valley standards like Cramming, Catchy, New Dimensions, etc., and the .10c just seemed right for me. A great route, and well worth doing if someone's on Airy Interlude, Thin Ice, etc.

By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From: Bend, OR
Jun 1, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Great, varied climb and less popular than some of its neighbors.

P1 - Thoughtful, and at times awkward, climbing up the right trending crack system. The start was wet in late May. The gear is good on this pitch, but I wouldn't send up a noobie 5.9 leader. We belayed at the large flake system just below the crux hand crack. Not a super comfy belay.

P2 - Money pitch. Felt 10b to me. You could throw as many fingers to tight hand cams at this pitch as you wanted, but a standard rack (2 x all cams) sewed it up. You might want to save a 0.5 camalot for the final moves. Although there are chains up and left from the end of the pitch, it is much easy to belay on the grassy ledge.

P3 - Really fun 5.8 climbing to the top, including a spectacular top out! The pitch goes from fingers, to an easy chimney, back to fingers, then hands, and finally a cool roof finish.

Gear: Standard rack is fine, and I only placed one #3 camalot.

By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Jul 5, 2009

Here is a printable topo of Fancy Free from Alexander Cooper & Clint Cummins' Needles Mini Guide

Agreed, there's no bolted belay atop P1, but you can belay from bolts atop P2, if you forgo the ledge.

By Jeff Dunbar
From: Carrboro, NC
Sep 11, 2009
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

I've climbed this excellent route twice now, and of course the classic second pitch was well worth it both times.

On my second outing, however, I was VERY tempted to explore a rumored variation for the last pitch which (I think) climbs the sick-looking, right-facing corner to the right of the original P3.

This corner looks clean and thin and steep at the start, and then the angle eases off rapidly near the top. It looks like it tops out 20-30 ft to the right of the standard finish.

Supposedly this alternate final pitch goes at 10b. To get to this alternate final pitch, it looks like you'd wanna do a very short intermediate pitch (50-60 ft total?) trending up and right from the bolt anchor atop P2 in order to set up your belay behind the huge blocks at its base.

Can anybody comment on the quality of this rumored 10b variation based on personal exprience?

By slim
Administrator
Jul 12, 2011
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

in some ways, the first pitch felt kind of harder than the second. it was wet, whcih made it hard to get to the few gear spots without soaking your shoes, also a lot of the climbing was kind of weird, with bottomed out cracks and funky positioning.

the second pitch is straight forward, although i was kind of surprised when i rounded over the steep part and saw the corner continue for a ways (and decreasing size). great feet on the right wall to make straight in jamming pretty comfortable. this pitch just wants to eat .5 camalots, so be prepared to budget.

third pitch is good also, in its own way. more like a good alpine pitch.

By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From: London (sort of)
Sep 26, 2011

The crux pitch was one of my favorite at the Needles. Excellent clean granite fingers. I continued up the last bit of fingers (past the bolts) and belayed at the base of the chimney. It's more protected from wind than the ledge where the bolts are, but also gets no sun.

By Colonel Mustard
From: Reno, NV
Jul 21, 2012
rating: 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b

Nice, long 5.9 pitches and a sweet dihedral crack for the crux! Hard to beat.

On the third pitch, go up a short finger crack and then straight up a chimney system. At the top of the chimney, on a block, you will run into the hidden-from-below, right leaning crack that will shuttle you to the anchors. (I had some friends traverse out right instead of finishing at the anchors.)

The climbing seemed very reasonably graded at 5.10b. As sort of a lame comparison (since I only did the first pitch of it) the first pitch of Atlantis felt much harder at 5.10c to me. If that's Needles 5.10+, Fancy Free doesn't qualify. On my almost-certainly flawed list, anyway ;).

I found the 5.9 pitches adventurous and very enjoyable as well, which is good since they are the bulk of the climb.

By ccmski
From: Prescott, AZ
Aug 27, 2012
rating: 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b

Although Thin Ice was more continuous as a route, I thought that the crux pitch of Fancy Free was harder than anything on Thin Ice- for whatever it's worth, but I also probably jammed FF straight in.

By Paisley Close
From: Mojave, CA
Aug 8, 2013
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

What a great route!

The bottom part of p1 is still wet and seeping as of 1st August. No big deal though, plenty of other dry spots to use, just be careful where you put your feet!

Super fun climb, really diverse. The 5.9 with some hands and lie backing, P2 the splitter fingers money pitch (yellow and blue metolius/master cams super useful!) and P3 was fun with a chimney and a right leaning crack/flake to a short splitter hand crack at the top.