BETA PHOTO: Tim up high on the incredible headwall 4th pitch.
This route climbs a trio of very nice clean cracks on the front of the NE Arete. If you like hand and fist cracks, this is for you. Pitches 2 and 4 are very striking splitters.
Pitch 1: Climb a short pillar to a ledge, traverse the roof into the hand and fist crack. Belay on a pedestal. 5.10, 120 feet. Pitch 2: Traverse into the nice crack climbing fingers to hands to fists, pass an overhang and up a wide crack to a ledge. 5.9, 110 feet Pitch 3: Pass go, collect 200 feet. Belay at the base of the headwall. 5.5 R, 200 feet. Pitch 4: Climb the striking headwall crack of thin hands, a boulder problem, then sustained hands and fists. 5.10+, 100 feet.
Post script. I recently found these comments referencing the route.
The route up the white streak on the steep face is the Screaming Sky Crack I think, which is the route Carl and I used to make what we think is the first 1 day ascent of Zoro, August 14th 1994. There is a small write up in Rock and Ice #64 from Nov/Dec 1994. 22 and a half hours car to car- Carl had scoped the route prior at least 2 times and knew where to go- He asked me and we sent on his third attempt- I think the first attempt was with Bill Hatcher and the second attempt was with Dave Willey- I assuredly had an advantage because of Carl's prior knowledge of the long approach. We were also friends and climbing partners. We left at 8 PM went down the South Kaibab to Phantom then up Bright Angel to Clear Creek up to Sumner Wash and through the Supai etc. Long and Amazing day and was cooked for days after. At the time I was sewing for Deucy at A5 and essentially living out of my car and the shop- Deucy was OK with that- I would recommend a 3 day trip- Sincerely, Eric Meudt
And FYI the "way steep headwall" part of the first rappell is an alternate route that starts around left of the NE arete and follows beautiful cracks to a ridge that leads to the base of the steep headwall. You crank up the headwall via splitter hands to fingers past a block (5.11) then fists to the rim. It's and awesome pitch in a wild setting! Carl Tobin was involved with the first ascent...called it the "sky crack", or something like that. He and I did the second ascent in 27 hrs round trip from the S. Kaibab trailhead in like AUG '96 or '97. He went back the next week and did it in 23 hrs? Three ascents in 3 weeks.
Three ascents in three weeks, are you kidding? No, this route is that good, go do it! If this route was in Sedona, it would have been climbed in the early 80's and would be one of the best routes in the area. In my opinion, as good as it gets for a desert tower route. But the approach...
The route is on the outside of the nose of the NE Arete. Start East of the NE Arete route, look for a recent rockfall roof 30 feet up. A low angle ramp starts at the same spot and heads up and left. This is the first ascent route of Zoroaster. There is a very old bolt about 50 feet up this ramp. Rap the NE Arete brushfest.
Good gear throughout except on pitch 3, which is very easy. Nuts, 1X TCU's to baggy fingers, 2-3X hands and fists, 1-2 offwidth pieces. No bolts. There is a crushed hex in the crack on the last pitch, I doubt it is worth much as pro. The hex has "Gary Doyle" inscribed on it.
Incredible Route: P1: Awesome undercling, lieback roof, then sweet crack. P2: Excellent, sustained crack that continues to widen. P3: Easy, unprotectable slab climbing to the base of P4. P4: Beautiful sustained crack on headwall. Surreal setting. One of the best pitches I have ever climbed. Protection: Recommended big gear: 2-3 BD#4, 1-2 BD#5. There is a register on top underneath some cairns on the south end, which can be difficult to find because the register consists of one piece of paper in a plastic bag buried underneath rocks. The register could use a little can/canister if anyone is ambitious. Rap: It is easy to stick your rope in a crack on the last rap. Climbed in April, route was primarily in the shade.
I can say with a lot of confidence that this is indeed the route we used in 1994. Although almost 20 years have gone by I still remember sitting at the base in the early morning waiting for the sun. We arrived at the base in the dark. Yes we approached in the night- all night long we walked and got to the base 45 minutes prior to sunrise. Carl and I were out there trying to beat the Summer heat and the 24 hour limit we imposed on ourselves. Near the base was a Pink Rattlesnake that had recently eaten a meal. As soon as the sun rose in the East we were off. We climbed fast and light and topped out in the Summer blaze. We never found a register and spent about as minimal time as possible on the summit. We rapped off, packed and started walking. The temps when we reached Phantom were approaching 110 degrees. We filled our water bottles and proceeded to hike out the South Kaibab trail. Carl arrived at the trailhead a few minutes before me- about 22 and a half hours after we started. We took no camera and I rarely ever spoke about the ascent except to friends- Now that 20 years have gone by I am so proud of this, as this is an exceptional route.