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The Witch
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Entity, The T 
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Green Tide T 
Igor Unchained T 
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Pegleg T 
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Igor Unchained 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches
Consensus:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Laeger & Clark - August, 1976
Page Views: 20,482
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jun 18, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (145)
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climber high on Igor

Description 

A classic introduction to the Needles. 5.9++.

Descend into the main amphitheater and locate the first obvious crack system that splits the entire Witch ground to summit. This system is immediately right (and well below) the obvious traverse crack of Airy Interlude.

P1: Climb a really long, sustained hand crack through bulges to a belay stance. 5.9+

P2: Climb a really long, sustained hand crack through bulges to a sloping ledge system. 5.9+

P3: Take off from the right end of the big, sloping ledge up a wild crack system that breaches a roof using jugs. Run this all the way to the summit on easier terrain. 5.9+

Descend north - see the Witch description for more info.

Protection 

Double set of cams (possibly triples) to #3 Camalot.


Photos of Igor Unchained Slideshow Add Photo
Looking down from halfway through P3
Looking down from halfway through P3
Gunning it on Igor Unchained.  Photo by AJ Burch.
Gunning it on Igor Unchained. Photo by AJ Burch.
The last pitch.
The last pitch.
John Cardmon and Noelle Ladd at the belay on Igor Unchained after climbing Airy Interlude. While Sheila Romane and Nathan Scherneck wait below to start the last pitch of Igor.
John Cardmon and Noelle Ladd at the belay on Igor ...
The final pitch
The final pitch
The final few feet, with the Magician and Charlatan in the distance
The final few feet, with the Magician and Charlata...
Looking up from the base at a party at the first belay.
Looking up from the base at a party at the first b...
Joy Schneiter on the third pitch of Igor Unchained.
Joy Schneiter on the third pitch of Igor Unchained...
Joy Schneiter on the first pitch of Igor Unchained.
Joy Schneiter on the first pitch of Igor Unchained...
Fun moves and BEAUTIFUL position!!
Fun moves and BEAUTIFUL position!!
Checking out Igor from atop the Charlatan
Checking out Igor from atop the Charlatan
Amy Haessly coming up the 3rd pitch of Igor Unchained.....June 2011
Amy Haessly coming up the 3rd pitch of Igor Unchai...
Extremely forshortened view of Igor Unchained (5.9)
Extremely forshortened view of Igor Unchained (5.9...
Joy Schneiter climbing the first pitch of Igor Unchained.
Joy Schneiter climbing the first pitch of Igor Unc...
Great times
Great times
Igor Unchained
Igor Unchained
I gotta confess......that's how you feel after the the whole thing....
I gotta confess......that's how you feel after the...
Dave Kramp leading Igor Unchained
Dave Kramp leading Igor Unchained
Climbers on the final pitch
Climbers on the final pitch
Laughing up the sinker jams on the first pitch.
Laughing up the sinker jams on the first pitch.
Kyle cruises the stellar 3rd pitch of Igor Unchained.
Kyle cruises the stellar 3rd pitch of Igor Unchain...

Comments on Igor Unchained Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 16, 2014
By Darshan Ahluwalia
From: Petaluma, CA
Jun 11, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

This is one of the best 5.9s in the galaxy.
By 1Eric Rhicard
Jul 18, 2007

I have to second the previous statement. It was a blast!
By Rob Dillon
Aug 14, 2007

The meaning of the route's name should become clear after a couple hundred moves.
By Shaun Purvis
Oct 16, 2007
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Good news for climbers on a budget: with a little confidence, I'd say this route is easily done on a single set of cams. I brought doubles in the 1"-3" range, as suggested, but never used them. On the third pitch, I used almost entirely nuts. May not be the best idea, however, if you're not comfortable with the grade or not used to crack climbing. When I did it in fall, pitches 1 & 2 remained almost completely shaded (brrrrrrr) while pitch 3 got sun in the afternoon.
By Steve Shumaker
Jul 2, 2008

Standing at the bottom of pitch 3, it was hard to believe it was going to go at 5.9. But it did, and with good stances for placing pro.
By ttriche
From: Altadena, CA
Jul 3, 2008
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

P1 and P2 are really 5.8+ ... especially if you normalize the grades against the wild and wooly pitch 3. In my opinion the "correct" way to do the first pitches is to chain them together and have your belayer simulclimb for 10-20 feet as you finish the lead. Don't fall on the slippery slab move if you use this strategy. Whoever mentioned that P3 protects with almost exclusively nuts is spot on -- you barely need any cams, maybe a few 0.5" to 1" pieces if you like, for the last pitch. Just sack up and fire the moves and you will feel like a hero, especially if you are a 5.9 leader! A few brass nuts are helpful for some of the thinner placements towards the top of the 3rd pitch.
By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Sep 29, 2008

Actually...

I found P1 and P2 to be the physical crux of the route. Perhaps I'm silly. P3, while cerainly a smorgasborg of steep jugs and jam-cracks, seemed to have myriad stances to rest and place gear. Of course, I'm not out to bicker about grades. The whole route is sustained, both in brilliance, location, and incentive (awesome summit). I agree with previous suggestions to double up on cams, and to bring a full set of nuts. P3 swallows stoppers. I think I only placed one or two cams on the entire pitch.

Also, Margee made some unbelievable mint cookies that day.
By ChugachMan
Aug 24, 2009
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

I agree with Andy, I'd say the grades of all three pitches are about the same, and although you can do it on one, having the two sets isn't a horrible idea - especially if you want to do it in about two pitches. And, best of all, Margee is amazing as are her mint cookies.
By Kris Solem
From: Monrovia, CA
Dec 17, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Just for perspective, the FA party graded this route as 5.8 when they did it. The name of the route came from the lyric "Igor Unchained by his Baying Hounds" from the song "Monster Mash."

IMO the crux is the bit on P1 where the crack gets shallow. Some folks find it to be the slabby section on P2, which is also kind of cruxy. I'd say the upper pitches are 5.8. I've soloed the upper pitches many times but never had any interest in being ropeless on the first two.
By ttriche
From: Altadena, CA
Dec 18, 2010
rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

Most of the people that I've ever held a fall for on Igor, fell on that slippery bit before the ledge at the end of pitch 2 (end of pitch 1 if you simulclimb). It's hard to protect the part where people seem to grease off.

The last pitch is intimidating, but in my opinion it is actually very hard to screw up. The blind reaches and big moves make everyone feel like a hero.
By Chris I
From: Fresno, CA
Jul 11, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Each pitch had a distinct crux for me. The right leg pump on P1 burnt me out. The blank corner with so-so nuts on P2 was a little tricky, and P3 was full of thrills, with some very shallow finger locks being the toughest part. For pro (understanding I'm new to this game and like to feel comfy at all times) I would take double .5-.75 bd (especially handy on the last pitch) and triple 1-3 bd for the first pitch. One #4 was used on P1 and P2, and a single set of nuts sufficed. A few smaller cams were handy throughout, especially for setting up anchors when I didn't want to use up all my hand sized pieces. Pitch 3 was definitely the highlight- steep and burly, with amazing movement throughout, incredible exposure, and good gear. What a climb!
By slim
Administrator
Jul 12, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a stupendous route in this area. my wife linked the first 2 into a really long pitch. even with an 'oversized' 70m, i was just about to start simulclimbing when she yelled 'off belay'. she said it was, hands down, the best 9 she had ever done. there are several spots in the first 2 pitches that aren't particularly easy for the grade. for somebody at their limit on 5.9, this route would be a satisfying achievement that they wouldn't soon forget.
By Richard Shore
Jul 16, 2012

With a 70M rope and about 20' of simulclimbing, the first two pitches can be run together into a mega-classic enduro 250' pitch to the big ledge. Triples in hand-size gear is recommended for this.
By Matt N
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Oct 22, 2012
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Awesome, awesome route. Remember that people poo-poo'ing lots of gear aren't leading near their limit. Cams come out quicker when following on P3, which I appreciated.
Triple #2 size was nice for the first pitch and use small cams down low to save your hand sizes. A #4 can be used on P1&2, but easy to get by without.
By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From: Phoenix, AZ
May 27, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Triple #1s and #2s would be good, but I wouldn't bring more than 2 of anything else. Great route.
By JMo
From: Tucson, AZ
Jun 25, 2013
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Possibly the best sandbag .9 in the world. Incredible!
By busik
Sep 2, 2013

First pitch felt like 5.9. Second - 5.8 with one or two 5.9 moves. Third was harder but nothing to be scared of. I'd give it 5.9+ - 10a. Eats nuts.
By Stan Pitcher
From: SLC, UT
Nov 20, 2013

Had to pause once on this to let Michael Reardon solo in above from Airy Interlude. He stopped for a moment to changed tunes on his Ipod and say hi.
By Colonel Mustard
From: Reno, NV
Dec 2, 2013

The Needles Novitiate Climbs

Twas' not unchained by Igor
nor slipped upon Thin Ice
Fancy Free went with ease
And Airy was just as nice
By Fat Dad
From: Los Angeles, CA
Jun 16, 2014

Under the category of 'ratings are totally subjective', I can't imagine how someone would find the last pitch harder than the first two, particularly the second. The first pitch is pretty straightforward, just a little weird in places. But the second, with the awkward wide bulge and the thin face moves to the belay I found substantially harder than anything on the third pitch. There, if you don't have a solid edge or a bomber jam, you aren't looking hard enough.