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Houdini Traverse. I think book lists as 10c. I'd...
Awesome hard route up clean, good rock. Full disclaimer: I only climbed to the top of the 4th pitch; the pitches above were wet and there was a Peregrine Nest on the 5th pitch ledge. If someone who has done the full route wants to take over this page, feel free. I just wanted to add it because it’s such an awesome route.
Pitch 1. 11a 70ft.
-Climb up the right facing corner with 10a-ish stemming until you can clip the bolt. Bust left on crimps (crux) until you can pull around the arete. Climb the face (protect with small cam) up to the ledge and belay. Can be linked with the next pitch. The grade seemed right for the crux but the pitch was very accessible at the grade, because the hard climbing is brief and bolt protected. I had more trouble on the sandbagged second pitch.
Pitch 2. 10a (sandbag) 100ft.
-Climb the obvious thin crack over two tricky overlaps. The first one felt 5.9-10a, but the second one felt sandbagged to me unless I was missing something. I had more trouble on it than the crux of the first pitch. Place a small cam, grab the good fingerlock, reach up to the crimp, and pull over the overlap onto the slab, pinching the edge of a small left facing corner. The crack was wet in parts when I did it, but the wet bits didn't seem like they'd be good holds anyway. After this bulge continue of the easy offwidth above and belay at a two bolt anchor.
Pitch 3 in the Lawyer guidebook is a scramble to the base of the shield (large clean slab of rock with few features). We felt comfortable not belaying this out as a pitch, and just wandering up to the shield and re-flaking the rope.
Pitch 3 10a 100ft.
-Look for a 6ft pillar sticking out of the steep slab. The third pitch of Free Ride climbs the right side of it. Traverse in easily from the left, clip a bolt, do some cruxy slab moves to get to the base of the pillar, and place gear in a crack on the left side of the pillar. Layback the crack and make an easy mantle onto the pillar. Clip another bolt, and climb straight up the slab, clip up another bolt, and move left to a flake. Place a couple of pieces of gear behind the flake and pull over the overlap (second crux). Climb past one more bolt to a two bolt anchor. Very good pitch. The guidebook calls this and the next pitch “some of the best face climbing on the east coast.” I agree. You can link this pitch with the next one with a 60m rope.
Pitch 4 5.9+ pg-13 100ft.
-Similar climbing to the last pitch, but with more bolts and less gear. There is (what felt to me to be) a substantial run-out between the 1st and second bolt. When leading I wanted a bolt or piece of gear right in between the two bolts; they are spaced about twice as far apart as the other bolts. But the climbing between the two bolts is about 5.8. But I still found it spicy. The pitch doesn’t have a distinct crux; each section by a bolt felt like a 5.9 slab move to me. Linking this pitch with the 3rd made a beautiful, sustained, mentally draining 200 ft pitch of sustained yet varied and interesting slab climbing.
-At the fourth pitch belay, a peregrine started warning dives and calls towards me. Additionally, the upper corners were soaking wet, even though the rest of the route was mostly dry. We rappelled, so the information for the second half is from the guidebook and what I saw. Anyone who has climbed the full route, feel free to offer a better description. I hope to get back in the fall and complete the route.
Pitch 5. 10a 60ft?
-Really short looking pitch, mainly scrambling up bushy ledges, with the crux coming at a 15ft slab protected by a single bolt. Ends on the Lunch Ledge
Pitch 6. 11a. 80ft?
-Climb the overhanging corner on the left side of the lunch ledge. There looks to be a finger sized crack in the corner, and in the second half of the corner the angle eases. Belay at a fixed anchor at the obvious base of the beautiful Endurance Corner.
Pitch 7. 10d 80ft?
-Climb the beautiful and continuous corner to a stance under the roof at the top. It looks to protect with hand sized cams, and there are three bolts in a row in the second half of the pitch.
Pitch 8. 10c. 70ft?
-The Houdini Traverse. Traverse left under the roof for about 40ft with great exposure, passing several bolts. At the end of the roof, climb straight up the steep face to the top of the cliff.
The first half of this route is really good, on much better and cleaner rock than the popular Diagonal. The second half of the route looks even better, especially the last two pitches.
The prominent upper corners can be seen from the ground when approaching from the left. Under the Shield, the very clean 200' swath of rock in the middle of this part of the cliff, is a relatively nondescript 200' section of rock ending in a ledge. Free Ride starts at the far left side of this. Look for a clean right facing corner with a roof towards the top, and a bolt on the left wall. This is the first pitch. You scramble up some ledges from the right to get to a belay stance right under the pitch.
If you are hiking in from the left, and you start hiking up a steep grassy slope, with the Shield up fourth class ledges to your left and the Weisner Route to your right, you've gone to far. Turn around and you should be able to see the right facing corner.
-Rappel the route with a single 60m rope. The first rappel anchor is climber’s left of the top-out, directly above the Endurance Corner. Wallface is hard on fixed gear so consider bringing extra slings. Once you reach the base of the Shield scramble down fourth class ledges to your right.
Sep 19, 2012
This is the only route of such length in ADK. As such its great but not VMC direct quality (Free Ride has vegetated lower angle sections in middle). It makes sense to join pitch 1-2, 4-5, 6-7(maybe) and 8-9. For me personally the 11a sections were soft but the shield 10a/9+ felt sandbagged (disclaimer: I never climb bolted faces). The enduro corner was crux for me. I joined it with previous 11a pitch and the double rope weight/drag + lots of dirt/moss in the corner made it hard to protect or even clip the upper bolts. Be careful of the holds on final traverse- they are rotten.
Its G for ADK standards.
By Don Mellor
Aug 18, 2013
8/18/13 - The Lunch Ledge below the big corners has gotten dumped by big boulders, which dropped from the the bottom of scary leaning wall that made up the cliff side of this nice perch. Left now is a horrifying arch of wedged monsters, the scariest looking blocks I have ever seen (much less stood under). The whole cracked structure (several refrigerators)has tilted another foot+ from the wall. You could now tunnel behind it. So... that belay was a bit uncomfortable, to say the least. We instead snuck up left onto a rubble-covered ledge - good gear anchor to belay the 5.11 short crack. The fracture pattern of Wallface leaves all blocks tilted outward - big stuff continues to shift and topple. That's why I keep going back.
By Andre Dahlman
From: Washington DC
May 26, 2015
Lunch ledge belay was terrifying. Those blocks are barely holding on. Didn't think to set up an alternative anchor per Don's advice. Proceed with caution.
Enduro pitch felt difficult. Crack remains muddy and moss filled. Neat finishing move though. Final traverse on the last pitch also a little sketchy.
Outstanding route despite aforementioned issues.