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Bulletheads, Central
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Liquid Gold 

YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 20 British: E3 5b

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 550', Grade II
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10d French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ ZA: 21 British: E3 5b [details]
FA: FA: Gordie Smaill, Mike Wisnicki, 1971, FFA: ?
Page Views: 1,862
Submitted By: Peter Spindloe on Aug 3, 2011

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center of image is the last 70 meter pitch.


Completely panned in McLane's guidebook as wet and rated 5.9 A2, it has recently been cleaned and freed at 10+. The first three pitches are good, but it's the final pitch that gives it the three stars. The final pitch is a 70m rope-stretching epic that deserves its own name.

We encountered a bit of wetness in a few unfortunate spots. It probably needs two weeks of warm weather without rain to be completely dry.

Tape gloves are highly recommended.

Pitch 1: This pitch is a thinker. Several different ways of doing it are possible. Follow the left facing crack to a tricky layback move. From here you could probably go left, but I found that right, up, and then left worked for me. Once on the left-trending overlaps you can choose to stay on one or move up and and down between them as you work your way to the ramp left of the first bolt. Clipping the first bolt requires committing to tough slab feet (maybe not if you're 6'6"). From there keep going past the second bolt after which the grade eases to 5.9 and runs out a good 20 feet to the corner. Build a belay in the corner. Several 5.10+ cruxes. Watch for rope drag. 30m.

Pitch 2: Climb awkwardly right off the belay under an overlap to a good stance below a left facing flare. The back of the flare takes ok gear and good fist/hand jams, but is deep enough that it's very difficult to move off the jams. The left wall was wet so we pulled on the gear. Dry it's probably thuggish 10. A wide left facing crack leads up and turns into an undercling to an obvious belay alcove. 5.10, 20m.

Pitch 3: Step around the little roof above the belay alcove and head up into the chimney. Place gear as high as possible in the chimney (#3 Camalot), and then downclimb until you can get outside the chimney and make offwidth moves to get above the chimney. It helps to arrange your gear so it's not in the way. The rest of the pitch is probably 5.8 or 5.9, but quite long and finishes with a very pretty finger crack to a treed ledge. It might be possible to take the corner right of the finger crack, but it didn't look well traveled or anywhere near as nice. 5.10, 30m.

Pitch 4: This pitch is obvious from the belay ledge. It goes straight up the amazing face and finishes left of the obvious headwall. It is a FULL 70m and has no fixed gear. It will take tons of gear -- the key is not running out. Use nuts to preserve cams. The line is quite straight but it's so long you want to use runners to keep drag at an absolute minimum. Just when you think you have it made, there's one hard move to get established in the final corner, but it quickly eases off after that. Keep going right to the forest. There are several distinct cruxes and lots of continuous jamming between them. It would be possible to stop at less than 60m, just below the headwall if using a 60m rope or out of gear (but you would need some for the belay). 5.10+, 70m!


Walking north along the trail from the Campground Wall you will pass Rainy Day Dream Away, and then Bullethead East (also recently cleaned). The trail splits around a block. Take the right fork (or left and then double back). From a nice flat spot on the trail you can look up to see the route. The roof capping the fourth pitch is a good landmark, as are the two bolts at the top of the first pitch (they aren't immediately obvious though, and you will probably only see one).

From the top of the fourth pitch, the trail (regardless of whether rappelling or walking down) is about thirty feet into the brush.

It's supposed to be possible to descend by rappelling Wild Turkey, but there were only bolts, no chains or rings, at the top of that route. There was a station with chains heading down into the gulley that separates the Bulletheads from the Tantalus wall, but we elected to descend by following the obvious trail system south. Along the trail there is a fixed line that goes down a steep gulley. Belaying or rappelling it will ease the anxiety level, but it's not necessary as long as the fixed line is in good condition.


With the exception of two bolts on a slab traverse on the first pitch, this routes requires all natural gear, including the belays. A good selection of nuts is very useful, as are double cams right up to #3 camalot size. A #3.5 camalot is important but we didn't feel a #4 was necessary. A few micro cams are nice and many runners are essential (at least twelve three footers) plus some draws.

Photos of Liquid Gold Slideshow Add Photo
Mike between the two bolts on the first pitch of L...
Mike between the two bolts on the first pitch of L...
Mike starting up the fourth pitch of Liquid Gold.
Mike starting up the fourth pitch of Liquid Gold.
looking down 1st 10d pitch
looking down 1st 10d pitch

Comments on Liquid Gold Add Comment
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By Mike Teschke
From: North Vancouver
Aug 4, 2011

In McLane's new Western Canada Select guide this route has an updated topo and route description.
By Ross Morgan
From: Vancouver, BC
Jul 20, 2012

Excellent route! My partner had to leave a stuck green C4 on pitch 4 on 7/19/2012; +10 Karma points if anyone wants to return it.
By Phill T
Aug 16, 2012

to help ID p1, you can see some rap anchors towards the top of p1 left of the slab traverse. The '10c OW' on p3 is no such thing. maybe a 5.9 chimney with no OW required if you face out and rack on the right. We had a full double rack to 4" and my partner only had 2 small aliens and 3-4 nuts left after leading the monster 70m final pitch! Rap down Bulletheads East with a single 70. every pitch was different and fun!
By Fulford
Sep 16, 2012

Great route. The chimney pitch was a blast - no need to be scared of that pitch! Straightforward, fun descent down the trail/fixed ropes (you can easily rap if the fixed ropes don't look good). 30 minutes to the car. Double set of cams to 4" works but it wouldn't hurt to have triples of fingers to hands size for the long crux pitch.
Oct 15, 2013

There is a 10c finger crack variation on the third pitch that starts from the same ledge. It's about 20 feet to the left and has two bolts to start. This is a good option if the chimney pitch is wet. When we recently climbed liquid gold (in October!) the chimney pitch was the only wet pitch.
By geoff georges
From: Seattle, Wa.
Jun 30, 2014
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b

I understand Andrew Boyd was on the FFA. Anyone know more? When done?
By Mr. Stevens
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 5, 2015
rating: 5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c

Top 100 in the guidebook, huh? I must have been missing something. The 1st pitch was pretty cool, but the 2nd and 3rd were pretty nasty - dirty, loose, etc. The 4th pitch was great, but after the middle pitches I was feeling pretty over it. Also, the 4th pitch is not obvious in terms of route finding. There is a massive, full extension (at least for me) rightward crack switch. I started going up left in the well traveled, well chalked finger crack, which just ended at a seam and a sloping ledge. This was not very fun to down climb, back clean, and then make the massive crack switch. Perhaps Krimo Gold is the way to climb this?
By Drewsky
Aug 5, 2015

I thought this climb was a nice outing. I accidentally linked P2-3 together to the ledge below the final pitch. This is actually somewhat reasonable if you string out the gear a bit in the chimneys and use lots of runners. I too kept expecting 5.10 offwidth but found only that little 5.9ish chimney section. As has been said, the final 70m pitch is quite good. Didn't find much dirt on the route, just some scruffy rock in the chimney

Our biggest mistake was attempting to rap Wild Turkey. Apparently if you do it correctly, you go more to the 'skier's right', as they say, and end up making a few clean double rope raps to the ground. Not being hip to this fact, I rapped more or less straight down to a ledge with an anchor. The next rappel was into the trees; fortuitously someone had made the same error previously and there was a sling anchor available. The final rap almost reached the path on a higher ledge near the ground and ultimately did once I re-equalized our 70m/60m rope combo. Fortunately the ropes didn't hang on any of the dozen dead snags or medium sized trees on their way down. I guess my point is, don't do this! It sounds like there are much better options.

I think the criteria for a Top 100 route in the Select guide are fairly subjective as opposed to just being "The Best 100 Routes Ever". This climb is a little more off the beaten path (but not much) and has some blue collar climbing and one very elegant pitch. It's definitely worth doing!
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