"Gates" follows a compelling natural line on West Face of the Ribbon Falls Amphitheater. The left wall of the Gates dihedral, when illuminated by the sun, juts out like a glowing blade, begging to be climbed. It is amazing that this obvious line waited so many years before an ascent.
The first ten pitches follow continuous cracks and corners on very high quality granite. All the belay stations are fixed chains, making this part of the climb feel less committing than many similar size Valley routes. Most of the belays are at great stances or full sit down and recline ledges. The setting and positions climbing in the amphitheater are super cool.
The upper 9 pitches are mostly 5.7, and allow you to top out the formation in approximately 2000 ft. of climbing.
Only the first 10 pitches are described here as this will likely be the way that most parties will climb it.
This is an excellent route that should be getting way more traffic. The hard climbing is well protected and short lived, the bulk of the climbing is endless 5.10 hands and fingers corner cracks. Even the mandatory Valley OW pitch is kinda soft and cuddly (kinda). Overall, Gates feels less burly than Astroman and less head spinning than the Crucifix. The 5.10 C1 crowd would find aiding the short cruxes straight forward and would be well rewarded with tons of great 5.10 free climbing.
The only real cons of this route is some grassy cracks and pokey shrubs, this route will only get cleaner and better with more traffic. The route is an absolute sun trap, this was great for our mid November ascent, but it is likely scorching much of the year.
Pitch by pitch. Lengths are approximate.
Pitch 1. 5.12a, 30m. Start up lower angled cracks to the base of left facing corner. Technical stemming with small foot chips on the left and helpful concavities on the right, protected with two bolts. Finishes up a 5.11 finger crack.
This pitch has been described as "houdini-funk" and rated .12c. We found the crux to be fairly easy to decipher and quite short lived, the kind of .12a that isn't even that bad to warm up on.
Pitch 2. 5.11c, 25m. Starts with a difficult traverse past a bolt, my partner went high, I went low. Continue romping up fun 5.10- fingers and laybacking.
Pitch 3. 5.10c, 35m. Hands gradually widen to off fists, just when things are getting thuggish a miracle crimp rail and single, generous foothold lead around the arete (bolt) to twin hand cracks, do i use the perfect crack on the left or the perfect crack on the right? I'm so confused.
Pitch 4. 5.10a, 30m. Hands and fingers and jugs, so fun!
Pitch 5. 5.10b, 30m. The jungle pitch. More steep cracks of agreeable widths. The trees initially look like they will be a pain in the ass but are easily passed by a chimney in behind. The haul rope had to be passed around the outside of the trees, this minor inconvenience makes a case for not bringing a tag.
Pitch 6. 5.9, 20m. Layback four inch crack up lower angle ramp. This crack is visible from the valley.
Pitch 7. 5.10d, 30m. Climb straight up beautiful corner directly above the belay move right into wide crack that is easier than it looks.
Pitch 8. 5.10d, 30m. Climb past annoying shrub to a ledge. Crank up steep fingers in a corner, fingers morph into the offwidth, the offwidth is negotiated left side in, although overhanging, the subtle flair allows for some chimney style rests and a great two handed crimp gives welcome relief half way. Almost fun!
A previously reported loose block at the top of this pitch is now gone.
Pitch 9. 5.11a, 40m. Long corner, mostly fingers. Several bulges provide stimulating cruxes, at the last roof step left to the only hanging belay on the route.
Pitch 10. 5.11d, 35m. Wild and steep, this pitch projects you out over the route below. This steep pitch is capped by a bombay chimney and another 5.11 crux of flared fingers and stemming.
We ran out of daylight and didn't get to do pitch 10, the description of this pitch is adapted from Sean Jones AAJ report.
We linked pitches 2-3 and 4-5 with no problems.
This first pitch remains shady much longer than the rest of the route.
Likely due to the recent inclusion of the Gold Wall in the latest Supertopos book, the approach trail is well marked and fairly easy to follow once found. Cut right into the main drainage about 200ft below the Gold Wall. The route is obvious, taking the largest right facing corner on the west facing wall towards the back of the amphitheater, approximately 300ft right of the falls, the first pitch can be identified by a small, left facing corner with two bolts.
On our November ascent, the falls were dry, when the falls are turned on a creek crossing will need to be negotiated, spray from the falls likely soaks the first pitch during high water.
Descent: Seven rappels with two ropes from the top of pitch 10. The rappel follows the route except from the bottom of pitch 9 where you can rappel to a hanging belay on the edge of the giant arete that forms the left wall of the dihedral (anchor for Ecstacy of Gold 5.10 A3), this avoids a potential rope hang up.
It seemed like it might be feasible to rappel the route with one 70m rope using one tree on pitch 8 as an intermediate anchor. Anchor sling and locker was in place on this tree. I didn't have the tape measure out so be careful!
Double set of cams from tips to #4 BD, one #5, standard nuts, no brass required. Leading with a nut tool is helpful for excavating the occasional placement or fingerlock.
From: Petaluma California
Oct 20, 2007
Well, I got nine pitches up gates of delirium despite tendonitis. This route is as good as the crucifix, and better than ribbon candy. All the belays are two solid bolts. Climbing is straight forward. Plan on a really nasty off width and a little gardening (pitch 9) Steve
By Scotty Nelson
Nov 20, 2013
Thanks for writing this up, I've always been curious about this climb!
By bob jensen
Nov 20, 2013
Rad route. Really good place to hang. If you start at first light during June you can do the entire first 10 pitches in the shade. The 10th pitch is protected from the sun if it just starts to hit on the 9th.
The OW seemed very real to me. I've never fallen on it, but it just seems a bit aggro compared to the rest. I'm a softy on those things though. Some of them.
Thanks for the write up. I encourage all folks who have an interest to do this route. Sean and company nailed it on this one.
Dec 23, 2013
2nd OW pitch seemed significantly harder than the first (stellar splitter). Pitch 9 seemed like an 11b with scary chock-stones to me. Wild step across to the belay.
By Too Tall
Mar 23, 2014
70m rope got us down from the top of pitch 7. The long tree pitch was almost a stretcher, don't try it with chopped ends! Wish I could tell you about the last few..