This route is really good, but in years of looking and asking, I have never seen or heard of anyone doing it. It is a worthy route and the best of the ones I did on Shirt Tail this weekend. A few spots of iffy rock prevent me from giving the 4-star rating. Still, it was a great pitch. The route ascends the smaller, right-most arete of the main wall of Shirt-Tail Peak, well right of Gambit
, and just right of the huge Mountaineer's Route
dihedral. The climb takes a short crack system (10M) up to reach a thin dihedral nestled into the arete for 50M more, then to a low angle finish. The route is striking and unmistakeable.
We climbed the meat of the route as a single pitch, leaving the 5.6 upper slabby arete for a second pitch. This can be done on a 60M or 70M rope, depending on the belay you want to reach. The 70M option seems best, and also sets you at eye-level with a set rap station (webbing w/Rapid Link on a tree) on the face to the left, should you opt-out of the easy summit pitch.
Arrive at Shirt-Tail peak to the right, and scramble up the dirty gully until if becomes 'mush.' Step left between two trees to reach a ledge system maybe 40' down and left of the start of the route. Drop the packs, change the shoes, and rack up here. Scramble to the base of the climb and set a belay back and right below the large pine tree. The crack system going straight up is Double Life
(bomb) but the system heading up and left to the steep wall and corner, G.P. Direct, is a great route. It may be advisable to set the belayer back behind the tree from the climber, in case any loose rock should happen to come off early on the climb.
Pitch1: Proceed up the climb setting small to medium nuts and the occasional cam. Just before the crux, a pink or red tricam places very well in a yellow horizontal slash to the right, then a 2" cam up in a small undercling, and then a few feet higher, a nut. This is the crux pro. Move up over the bulge to a good hold on the right of a pillar of rock just before stepping left in a changing-corners move, then continue up to stand on the pillar. Good 1-1.5" cams or a large stopper can be had here. This ends the real runout and by and large ends the hardest climbing. Continue up in a left-facing corner and some cracks for another 40-50 meters to reach a roof over a finger crack with a fixed angle piton (old but good). Pull the roof and belay on the ledge to the left (60M rope) or continue up to another ledge (70M rope) and belay. For the higher belay, a cordalette on a big horn and a great seat are backed up with a stopper and a #2 Camalot. If you are sqeamish, take a #4 Camalot for the belay too.
You can escape left from here to a series of raps from trees (2 raps and a scramble on a 70M, but a 60M will not reach the next station) or continue on P2.
Pitch 2: Climb up the easy, runout arete as the angle leans back to reach the summit, 40M. A piece of gear goes here and there, mostly cams in horizontals. A hard move is available up top for an optional finish... a zig-zag finger crack though a bulge. The rock is a little licheny there though.
To descend, Rap the Mountaineer's Route
(presently no top anchor) or hike to the West and rap as from Gambit
A standard Eldo rack including a set of stoppers, with extra medium, a set of cams from very small to 3". An extra fist-sized piece could be good, and a 4"+ cam might be nice at the belay at 70M if you are squeamish, but not at all necessary. Lots of slings are advisable (10 to 15 slings).