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Start of the route. Photo Sergio Rudin.
At five pitches Flea Tree is relatively short for a Sugarloaf route. It is protectable throughout (a rarity on Sugarloaf), route finding is straightforward, and the 5.7 rating is not sandbagged.
Orientation: from where you stand, locate the Flea Tree. To the right of it a row of small bushes starting from the sky line marks the top of the dihedral you will be climbing. As you trace that line down, it will become a clearly visible crack and toward the bottom a dihedral with a pair of cracks in it making a narrow, inverted V. The V will become visible as you get closer and will serve as a landmark.
Pitches 1 and 2, 5.5 - 5.6, 350 to 400 ft total. Go up the wide apron to the bottom of the crack. The terrain is made up of flakes few inches thick, making up a sea of disorganized, right-facing corners. The climbing is easy and you may want to scramble partway up, but even if you do, it will likely still take two pitches to reach the bottom of the crack. You will pass two good bolts, one of them with a hook hanger, short distance below it. This is your last chance to rap down. There is no other fixed gear on the route.
Pitch 3, 5.7, 180 feet. Go up the crack (the right half of the inverted V is easier) and stay with it. This is the crux pitch. It is steeper, cleaner, and more fun. Belay where the crack opens up into a corner and provides a nice enough ledge.
Pitch 4, 5.7, 100 ft. Go up the disorganized, unappetizing dihedral to its top, then have some fun on a featured but interesting slab on your way to the Flea Tree.
Pitch 5, 5.6, 200 ft. Go up to the right of the right facing corner above the Flea Tree until it becomes easy to step up onto it. Continue straight up or somewhat to the left for a long slab climb to the summit.
Approach: from the bottom of Left Eyebrow continue up past the Eye of Sugarloaf going close to the rock. You will come to a small saddle between a tree and the skirt of Sugarloaf. The route starts here. If you reach the Flea Tree Dihedral (a really large right-facing dihedral which takes off from the ground) you've gone too far. The Flea Tree itself can easily be identified during approach as the only tree visible on the right side of the face near the top.
Standard rack: This climb will pretty much take any gear you take. Cams up to #3, if you like, but you can protect it all on small nuts too. Take lots of slings, as you'll be stretching your rope for some of the pitches.
WSW face. Flea Tree easily visible.
Charlie leaving the Flea Tree
BETA PHOTO: Flea Tree Route. Compare to Photo for a better vie...
BETA PHOTO: Flea Tree route. Photo litld01.
By Marta Reece
From: Las Cruces, NM
Nov 4, 2013
There are some loose rocks on the bottom two pitches, as well as on the start of Pitch 4, occasionally sizable ones. They can be avoided, but if you'd put your packs out of the line of fire to start with and trundle some stuff, that would be good.