This is probably the best single pitch of 5.5 at the Trapps. The climbing so steep, you can't believe you are on a 5.5! The start is to the left of Laurel and to the right of Nosedive, at a crack system with the stump of a tall skinny tree about 15' up, below a huge hanging corner that you'll soon be walking out.
P1: Start in the obvious crack system leading to the large right-facing dihedral that starts 25' off the ground. Clip a fixed pin at the roof, and continue up the fun dihedral. At the tiered roof above, traverse left around the nose to a small ledge. (Optional belay here).
Continue up the crack and face to the top of the cliff. A real gem...
You can rap with two ropes (one 70m -may- get you close to the ground, but the last 40' of the rappel are free-hanging. You do the math!), but consider that the carriage road is at its busiest point here, with dogs and babies and cyclists and tourists hanging out -right- where your ropes will land, blindly, when you toss them.
This is a great route, with what seems like a lot of exposure on the traverse left to the arete, above the large roof. You can establish a somewhat hanging belay at the arete, at the end of the traverse, if your second will need a lot of encouragement on the traverse. This is the "optional belay" that is referred to in the route description. I once enountered a very large black snake in the horizontal crack that you use for your hands as you do the traverse. I shouted "Shoo! Shoo!" at the snake, until it retreated far enough into the crack that I could (very, very quickly) traverse past it. My partner on that day, Bryan MacDonald, who has a serious snake phobia, was horrified. Folks who come from afar to climb at the Gunks should be alert for unusual wildlife encounters at the crag.
Very busy, but worth it if you can get on it. The traverse is one of the easiest parts of the route in terms of climbing difficulty in my opinion, but it can be intimidating. If you use your slings properly, you'll have no troubles with rope drag doing this in one pitch.
By Joe M From: Rapid City, SD Sep 2, 2007 rating: 5.64c14V12S 4b
I really did not enjoy this route at all. There just wasn't anything great about it, except for the 1 foot approach from the carriage trail.
Try to find one route in SE Arizona that is that cool. You can't. It is climbs like that that make the Gunks so fun. Steep enough to feel like real climbing. More than one pitch. Nice air and it is so easy even a total beginner can succeed. I love this route.
Just revisting some gunks routes since i've moved away from the northeast. this was one of the BEST ROUTES EVER! me and a buddy from work i had just met drove down to the gunks for our very first trad leads. he borrowed some gear from his dad, i bought a new set of stoppers and tricams. perfect fall sky. i started up the face and slung a root ... cool, natural pro. got to the corner and smiled and internal giggled the entire way to the traverse. put maybe a hand sized cam in and wet my pants trying to get around the arete. was so shaken at this point i built a belay right over the drop off, huge ass roof ... yeah biiiatch! my buddy gets up and leads up the golden, sunlit face as you clear the shade from the trees. then, still giddy, rap off into space as we clear the huge roof. unforgettable. one 60m, piecemeal rack to hand size, new friends, virgin adventure. awesome.
The climbing is really great and the gear is good, but the noise from the road can be a major bummer for this climb and the others at the Uberfall. So much so that communication will be a problem if you run both pitches together.
One can also climb directly through the corner in one pitch rather than traversing left onto the face. It probably ups the rating a half-grade - maybe - but takes great pro, has tremendous fingerlocks, and feels awesome. Be careful with how the rope runs if you do this, as it can jam in the crack at the lip of the OH.
By Jay Knower Administrator From: Campton, NH Mar 15, 2010
Can you imagine a better 5.5 in the world? I can't.
I just spent a day with two climbers for their first day at the Gunks. I have to agree with the polish question - the crux of Frogs Head is pretty hard for 5.6- with all the polish, and we encountered some smooth spots on Horseman as well.
I've never heard anyone question the rating of Horseman in 20 years. It might be the defining 5.5 in the Gunks. Does anyone claim that there isn't some 5.5 climbing in the last half of the second pitch?
My first "real" trad lead, and it felt great. The traverse wasn't as bad as the climbers before me made it look, but there is some air out there. After the traverse, its pretty easy climbing with loads of solid gear and even a few pins (if you're into old rusty iron pro).
This route is as good as it could ever get for the grade. Great stemming and bomber holds. However, that semi hanging belay sucks, ancient pins with not much oportunity to back it up. I found it unnerving and very uncomfortable. Better to bring a lot of gear and a dozen or more runners, and run it right up the corner to the top in one pitch. Totally classic as one pitch. Maybee a bit harder as one other has said.
As many have recommended, it's best to do this route as a single pitch (bring yer runners). If you want to belay after the traverse though, the rusty fixed pins do have a decent backup. There's a crack 1-2 feet above them that will fit a purple tricam, a red camalot and a green camalot.
By farkas.time From: Sheffield, SY May 29, 2012 rating: 5.54b13IV+11MS 4a
Excellent, excellent moderate climb. Pro is abundant, but tricky, and crux is a little committing, so I wouldn't recommend for a beginner lead, despite the grade.
Great climb! Moves are on the soft side for Gunks 5.5, but I still find it a somewhat heady/uncomfortable lead. Gear placement is ample but occasionally thoughtful, good amount of exposure, some of the footholds before the traverse are a tiny bit awkward, and there is the potential for a good amount of rope drag if you don't extend enough.
My first trad lead in September. Awesome climb for the grade! There is really no reason for breaking it into 2 pitches unless your 2nd needs encouragement at the traverse. Rapped safely from the tree anchor with one 60m rope to the ground
By Blake C From: Estes Park and Gunnison, CO Apr 3, 2013
Fantastic climb for the grade. I cannot fathom why anyone would want to do it in two pitches, even with a new follower.
I've had rocks dropped on me from parties rapping this route more than once. Really, people? The walk-off takes about 4 minutes; are you that lazy to risk raining rocks down on the most crowded part of the carriage road? The station at the top should be chopped; rapping is just too dangerous (given the crowds and the loads of gumbies who climb this) in that spot and serves absolutely no purpose. Just walk down!
I'd also be ok chopping the belay in the middle. Anyone who needs to break it up for a beginner partner can do so with a bomber gear anchor; no need for the pins.