Kraus and McCarthy were the best climbers from the 'Gunks when they did the west face of Snowpatch Spire. Originally rated 5.8, don't believe it. It was a test-piece back in the day.
There is a map in the photo gallery for Kraus-McCarthy approach beta. The standard approach is via Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col.
If a summer like 2009 happens again, then both climbing and rappelling the Pigeon-Snowpatch Rappels might be a new way to approach the West Face routes. I have not yet found a report of this being done but did see a trip report that estimated a difficulty of 5.6.
Go here for both current and historical condition reports by Canadian guides: acmg.ca/mcr/archives.asp
Most climbers experience this route vicariously, from rappel. Kraus-McCarthy is the standard way down for most parties after climbing the Weisser/Southeast Corner route. Teams ascending Kraus-McCarthy can expect to be outnumbered by those descending. Morning shade is a drag on alpine rock, but this route is worth it.
Since I last did this route, bolt & chain rappel anchors have been installed at thirty meter intervals. Four 60 meter rappels or eight 30 meter rappels. Since there are plenty of safe bolt stations, it will be much easier to work with others on the route.
The first hard pitch starts following a ramp left up to a 5.8 roof.
The second hard pitch follows ramp-like feature back right, past a lone bolt rap anchor. It is possible to belay here, on the right side of the gully, before the line moves back left.
Or try to stretch this pitch up left on sloping 5.7 ends at a belay in a left facing and leaning corner.
The next pitch is a rounded 5.8 lieback. sometime verglass or wetness can make getting to the 5.8 more serious. Small ledge to belay.
The next pitch starts rightward and ends after a traverse left, easier than 5.8 if dry. The belay should be a small stance with bolt anchors.
Seems like the last 20 feet the the main crack are by far the crux, 5.9+ at least. This is where I'd like to try a big cam (#6). There is a dodge right, to a thin crack at least 5.10. Harder, and not great for the second.
Most climbers experience this route vicariously, from rappel. Kraus-McCarthy is the standard way down for most parties after climbing the Weisser/Southeast Corner route.
Bolt & chain rappel anchors have been installed at thirty meter intervals. Four 60 meter rappels or eight 30 meter rappels. Mountain Project contributor Hans warns us in the Surf's Up route description that some of the single raps barley reach so use knots.
I'm bringing the #6 cam next time! Bring lots of slings too, the route wanders. Otherwise the rack is the usual for a 240 meter 5th class climb on alpine granite.
KRAUS-McCARTHY ORIGINAL RAPPEL ANCHORS
The old summit anchor was a 20 kilogram flake, about 80 centimeters in length, tied off and laid across the top of the Kraus-McCarthy chimney, where it splits the flat summit ledge. Before weighting the very directional and portable anchor, climbers would have to squeeze down into the chimney. Once under the sketchy flake and on rappel, the security of the chimney was replaced with 240 meters of exposure. The next anchor was a tied off pancake flake, somehow wedged between the walls of a 90 degree corner, even more uncertain than the summit anchor.
BETA PHOTO: Photo by Kevin Craig
Yellow - Kraus-McCarthy via ...
Bugaboo-Snowpatch Col, 2009
Photo by Jeff Volps
BETA PHOTO: Map for Kraus-McCarthy
contour interval : 100 feet...
From: Poughkeepsie, NY
Oct 30, 2012
John Rupley was also part of the first-ascent team.
The first-ascent party used direct aid on the crux pitch, so the "original" rating couldn't have been 5.8. In fact, it is unlikely that the decimal system was used at all in 1956 by Eastern climbers.
I climbed the route in the late '60's or early '70's and thought 5.8 to be a fair rating at the time.