Gutenberger Wall Direct
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BETA PHOTO: Gutenberger Wall Direct
Pitch 1: The regular way it to climb The Easy Way Up
5.7 to the Grand Central belay, a two bolt chained anchor/rap station. Start in a large pothole on the Approach Boulder over the river, clipping a bolt there. Clip a fixed pin on the wall across from the boulder top, then step across. Hand traverse right, clipping another fixed pin. Traverse further right continuing under a long small roof, the step up around it when you reach a small opening in it. Traverse back left above the roof, to clip a bolt. Diagonal up to the only local feature, a right-facing flake and small dihedral; BEWARE the hollow lowest section of the crack. Place pro only higher up this feature after testing for weakness. Above the dihedral, slab and feature walk left to the bolted belay.
Popular pitch 1 variations include starting behind the Approach Boulder on the left, which allows a more bomber belay anchor, and starts with 5.7 ish hand crack traversing and chimneying. Another is to start in this same spot, but follow the Dihedral Bypass 5.9, or hard 5.10 Iraqi Dihedral.
Or from the top of the Approach Boulder, go directly over the roof for a rather more challenging roof move protected by a bolt.
Higher up pitch 1, you can avoid the loose flake and dihedral by following the bolt line of Trout Fishing in America left under it, for a 5.8 to 5.9 or harder slab line (progressively more slippery if your feet go left of the bolt line).
From Grand Central, climb two to three pitches of Gutenberger Wall Direct, building gear anchors in the mostly ample features.
Pitch 2 is an easy low angle crack ascent with occasional cruxier moves, for much of a 60 meter rope length.
Pitch 3 is similar, but when the crack system forks, follow the left until there are no more gear placements; then be bold and tiptoe the licheny slabs and micro humps back the the right crack system, which offers a few more places for pro and an anchor before running out.
Pitch 4 is a short but runout slab walk up progressively lower angle granite at the top of the dome. Once you reach a ledge level with an obvious anchor and rap station to your right, walk to that.
Rappel twice, using two 50 or 60 meter ropes each time. If you try to rap on a single rope, I've heard reports of some runout downclimbing being required to reach some rap stations. But take that with a grain of salt... I thought it looked like four 60 meter rappels would have kept us on the current anchors too. Tie your rope ends and enjoy...
As always with this side of the river, be cautious with the slippery crossing (including planning ahead for your return later in the day), and don't try it unless the river is low and calm.
The obvious crack line straight up the middle of Gutenberger Wall.
Caution - you CANNOT rap with a single 60 meter rope. Double ropes of 60 meters or less, or a single 70 meter rope, will do the job.
The middle two rappel anchors are pairs of bolts in the wall. Leaving quicklinks would be most gracious. As it is, leaving slings may be necessary to rap safely from two of the anchors.
Grand Central Station has bolts and chains, as does the rappel anchor at the top of the final pitch.
Other anchors are gear only.
Gear to 2", doubles are useful. This is a great line for practicing passive pro on too; many flaring and irrregular cracks love nuts, hexes and tricams. If you bring bigger pieces, you'll also find spots to place them; we found places to use my friend's 3" and 4" cams on most pitches.
The ample and easy gear from Grand Central to the end of the cracks, combined with the low angle rock, make this a beginner friendly trad line; the Gutenberger is good preparation for moderate slabby domes elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada.
Four rappel anchors, with neighboring rap lines on either side of you, offer plenty of escapes if you get off route.
Feb 25, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
I am not a hater, and usually have good things to say about routes, but this one did not live up. 3* for the setting and views, but 1* for the climbing, which is sometimes in shallow, mungy and flaring cracks. Although traffic has cleaned the face a little, there is still a good deal of moss and lichen to be found. The route is very low angle, so this is a good place to practice your friction skills. Belays 2&3 are semi hanging. If it's winter and you must climb multi pitch on granite, then this might not be a bad option. Otherwise, Lover's Leap is very close and offers far superior climbing.
P1 is the climbing highlight, with a fun finger crack traverse while you smear your feet. There is a bolt on the approach boulder, but getting on it is optional. Small/micro cams can protect the traverse, along with two fixed pins (keep your follower in mind). You can also reach high after you've clipped the second pin to a bolt above the lip. The guidebook shows the route as surmounting the lip, but that looks >5.7. Otherwise, keep traversing right until the lip lets up and then head for the obvious flake up and left, which accepts fingertips for a lieback. Two bolt belay at Grand Central.
P2 is mostly easy slab hiking with a couple of moves thrown in near the end. Two bolt belay. Rap slings attached directly to bolt hangers - someone should add links/chains.
For P3, head left and then up, following the main crack. Mostly easy climbing up to 5.6, but take the good protection opportunities when you see them as the crack is flaring, dirty and shallow on the whole. Three bolt belay (one new, two older).
P4 is *very* low angle dirty slab. Climb it if you must, or rappel from here.
Two 50m ropes will get you down.
Rack: medium-large nuts, single set of cams to 2". Micro cams will help in a couple of places. Long runners to reduce rope drag on P1.
By Floyd Hayes
Oct 21, 2013
rating: 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
There are no bolted anchors along the cracks, so you'll have to build your own belay anchors with gear. I wished I had taken along a second set of cams up to 2" because I had to skip a few opportunities for protection when I lacked the right sized cams. Higher up the crack forks. The right fork was much dirtier, so I took the left fork and then traversed back to the right on dirty holds below the bolted anchor to the left. For a short section above my traverse the holds were really dirty and sketchy, so if I were to do it again I'd continue up the left crack to the bolted anchor (for face climbs to the left) and then traverse right on cleaner and easier holds, above which the final part of the crack is poorly protected but clean and relatively easy. We took a second 200' rope and descended in three rappels, the first two with slings rather than chains. I wish somebody would install chains or at least quick links.
By Justin Johnsen
From: Sacramento, CA
Nov 13, 2013
Thanks Floyd, I updated the pro section from your comment.