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Margin Of Error 

YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ British: E3 5b PG13

Type:  Trad, 1 pitch, 140'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.10+ French: 6b+ Ewbanks: 21 UIAA: VII+ British: E3 5b [details]
FA: Tony Bubb, Joe ?, March 1995.
New Route: Yes
Page Views: 1,082
Submitted By: Tony B on Jan 22, 2007
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A good route, a harder finish to a classic line, complete with hard moves and runout. Be careful of my proposed grade. I do not know in fact how hard the line will be in all. I rated it only for its moves, not sustenance.
It has just been affirmed by some locals (Chris Watford & John Liles) that this was a probable F.A. and likely still unrepeated.

The following was a description I wrote in 1995 and just recently found again with Google:

"I got up Sunday morning just before sunrise and cooked some oatmeal before heading up the hill. I was up there by 8am, and climbing. I hooked up with Joe, a guy who was also alone that day, at least until his pal showed up in the afternoon. Joe is a guide and instructor for a local climbing school, and knows Twall pretty well. Joe asked what routes I did the day previous to figure out what I climbed like, so he could choose some good lines for us to do. I mentioned doing "A nastily runout 5.10+ that seemed to be more like a 5.11 to me" Joe said "Was it called MEAN CUISINE?" Apparently the route has a reputation...

Joe and I warmed up on the moderate, yet sustained "PASSAGES (5.8)". It is a **** lovely route, about 130' tall, a must-do. Joe cruised up behind and we rapped off. I spent some time doing some boudering and snagging a few routes before Joe and I decided to do a 5.10a dihedral called "Margin Of Profit" that I'd heard about. I and Joe located it and I quickly jammed up past the first roof, then up to the second roof about 80' or 90' off of the deck. Several people had said something about heading left out of the dihedral, and there was a big horizontal. I placed a few pieces under the roof and looked both left and right. I was getting pumped, so I hastily went left, as I thought I had been advised. Well, as I heel-hooked up and around the arete on which I had arrived I pulled myself to a spread-legged sitting position on the 8 inch ledge/corner and yelled "I must be in the front Row!" A few people looked up and said that I was off route, and that I should have gone right. Standing on the ledge and looking over, I realized that they were right. There the big holds were! I was too pumped to get back down the roof, so I paced a blind nut or two and started strait up. One person yelled "Hey, it's a new route." I responded (20' above my last piece, feeling pumped and on 5.10 moves) "I'll call it 'Margin of Error' if I live.

After about another 10' I got a good piece, and ran another 20' to the top. It was an awesome route, about 130-140' or more in total height. Joe trailed his rope and started up. About 10 falls later he started talking about it being a bit difficult. At the top (20 falls later?) he looked at me with saucer sized eyes and said "That was a stout lead." I looked at him and responded: "Thaths whffath I Wath Sthfinking!" My mouth was still a little to dry to talk correctly...

John Cioci (my usual climbing partner) had arrived to see the latter half of the adventure, and pulled and coiled the ropes while I booted and packed up. We hiked out and started the drive back, my head still abuzz. It would have been my last route of the day whether or not John showed up. I'd had my fun, and the week's climbing had worn on my body."

click to read the full 1995 trip report


Start as for Margin Of Profit, but stay left of the arete and tend left under roofs for the final 10 meters, approaching the route 'Sun King.'


The rack is as for Margin Of Profit plus a few nuts to finish up high. It is a little runout, but there is not much to hit in the event of a fall.

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By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jan 13, 2008

Anyone else ever done this line?

By Stone Brew
From: Chattanooga, TN
Jan 2, 2009

I am not sure where to start with this. The climber says he started on Margin of profit, but mentions jamming up past a roof. There is no roof on Margin of profit. He then mentions jamming up the dihedral and past a second roof. There is no dihedral, or second roof, on Margin of profit. The description matches the start of Hidden assets, except for where he mentions, the second roof, which there is none on Hidden asssets. Hidden assets, however, does have a horizontal crack heading to the arete before the crux. If you follow this, about 6 to 8 ft, you end up on Margin of profit. Confused yet? From here he says he trended left under roofs and ended up near Sun King. If this is the case, then he probably climbed the wide crack/corner to the right of the Sun King finish, which has been climbed many times by people trying to avoid the crux of Sun King. From the description given, the climber climbed 60 ft of Hidden Assets, crossed to Margin of Profit, then did the bailout finish for Sun King. I am always interested in new routes at my home crags, so I am posting this for clarification only.

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jan 3, 2009

Thanks for the comment. This was posted with the intent of gaining more claritifation, and over time, some light has come to it. Perhaps these clues will help.

YOu are potentially correct with respect to some of this. I may have started on Hidden Assets rather than Margin of Profit. At some point however, I was on Margin of profit, seated on the arete notch seen in this image, a short distance below the climber:>>>

From there I went up and left into the series of roofs stepping up and further left to the top, but not so far over to the vertical wide crack/corner which is also seen in the picture referenced above. I believe that is what you call the bail-out of Sun King.

A few things that may influence the description- the seminal climbing here that seemed to be new was from the arete up and left- that is what stuck in my head and what is ostensibly a new finish. Maybe it isn't. For lack of a better term, I would call any blocky overhang a roof, even if the protrusion was only a foot or two. Similarly, I would call any small 2-faceted featue on a face a dihedral. for lack of better terms. These may not qualify for the monikers I have assigned them in others minds. Perhaps that is the difference between my description and what you have observed- or maybe by the time I wrote the TR, the week after the climb, I got soem details mixed up.

There is, however, more discussion of the position of the climb over on the page for Margin Of Profit:>>>

Perhaps you might read more and help me determine the nature of the beast. The first respondants to this by Email were the book author and a few locals who suggested that this was indeed a probably FA of an alternate finish, probably bearing in mind that 14 years ago, things had not exactly been "climbed out" yet.

Any contribution you might have towards clarification would be great. Thanks again.

By Stone Brew
From: Chattanooga, TN
Jan 3, 2009

Tony, I know it was a while back, but do you recall if you stayed on the arete, on its left side? There is some stout face climbing up form the Margin of Profit midpoint ledge, but then any movement left above puts you at a no hands ledge, too tempting to avoid. The next sunny day I will give it a go. Hang tough and look us up next time you are in the south, david

By Tony B
From: Around Boulder, CO
Jan 3, 2009

While I can not say what I had done early on, Once I left the "perch" that straddles the arete in the photos on the Margin Of Profit page, I stayed left. I stood momentarily on a ledge with a tuft of grass which can also be seen in the photo, just left of where I had sat for rest. I headed up the face on the left side of the arete into a horizontal below a small roof into the shallow left facing corner, left again under the small roof, and to another left facing corner, then up and out of that over the last roof and to the top of the cliff. I placed a cam in one of the horizontals along the way and then was out of properly-sized gear. I believe I recall the cam being a Orange HB, which is a #3. I do remember that I had just one cam left and I was for want of a nearby size, smaller or larger.
I can not swear to 100% accuracy of that particular memory after so much time though. So save some hand-to-fist sized cams for up there. I do distinctly recall people telling me I had been quite off route for some time, so I may have spent time below said perch on the wrong side of the arete as well.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes! I'd not had a rest day in a week or more and had gotten on some tough lines (flailed) like Skinner's 'Oregon Message' and so I was generally worn and done. It might be easier or harder than the grade I had guessed at.